The Looming Effect of Chris Sale Changing Divisions

This week at BP Boston I wrote about their major offseason acquisition, Chris Sale. Sale is an excellent pitcher — in the top five in the league over the last five years — but there are concerns about him moving from pitching in the soft American League Central to the difficult American League East. I examined this idea by looking at Sale’s career splits against AL East teams and in AL East ballparks, and then waded into the muck of specific batter-pitcher matchups to see if there are any batters currently residing in the AL East with whom Sale has had difficulty.

Go check it out: Chris Sale and the American League East.

Hitting with Two-Strikes: Can the Red Sox Do It Again?

Last week I started a new role as a weekly columnist at BP Boston. In this new role I will be writing an article each week on a Red Sox related topic of my choosing. I will also be continuing with game recaps through the season and roster recaps at the end of the season, but doing fewer (or perhaps none) of the Read Sox, and Fenway’s Future articles that I have been responsible for over the last two years. This is an exciting development.

My first piece in this columnist role went live at the site last week. I wrote about how the 2016 Red Sox offense thrived in two-strike counts. As a group the Red Sox were much better than the rest of the league when the count got to two-strikes, and on an individual level many of the everyday players outperformed their historical level. As we saw that makes for a potent offense, but also suggests there is some regression coming this season.

Head over to BP Boston to check it out: Hitting with Two Strikes: Can the Red Sox Do It Again?

Red Sox Roster Recap: Marco Hernandez

My fifth (and perhaps last) entry in the 2017 BP Boston Roster Recap series went up on the site last week. I reviewed Marco Hernandez’s season. Hernandez is an interesting young player, who does not necessarily stand out in any way but will be a solid option off the bench for the Red Sox in 2017. I would be surprised if he does not earn one of the four (or five) bench roles right out of Spring Training. Now, three of those bench roles are already spoken for by Christian Vazquez, Chris Young, and Brock Holt. This means that Hernandez will be battling for the last spot (or one of the last two spots) with Josh Rutledge and, well, I don’t think there is anybody else who is clearly in the mix for that last spot.

Head over to BP Boston and read about Hernandez’s skillset: Roster Recap: Marco Hernandez Keeps Hitting.

My other Roster Recap articles for the 2017 series can be found at the following links:

Red Sox Roster Recap: Heath Hembree

I have another entry in the 2017 BP Boston Roster Recap series up on the site. This time around, I recapped run-of-the-mill middle-reliever, Heath Hembree’s season. A few years ago, Hembree, then part of the San Francisco Giants’ system, was projected as a high-level, power arm and handed the Closer-of-the-future moniker. Well, it turns out that projection missed the mark by a considerable amount. The Red Sox acquired Hembree at the 2014 trade deadline in exchange for Jake Peavy. Since then he has developed into a catch-all, fringy middle reliever, which is disappointing. With that said, he had success in 2016 in his role and his flexibility and ability to throw multiple innings certainly saved the team in a number of games. But he had tremendous difficulty against left-handed batters, has yet to show that he should be given a more important role, and as such will be fighting for his place in the organization every time he takes the mound in 2017.

Head over to BP Boston and read about Hembree’s season: Roster Recap: Heath Hembree is Every Middle Reliever.

My other Roster Recap articles for the 2017 series can be found at the following links:

Optimizing the Lineup, Setting the Rotation, and Developing Young Talent

I wrote last week’s Read Sox article at BP Boston. In the “Going Deep” section of the article I focused on how the Red Sox should organize their batting order so as to maximize the run scoring potential. In the remainder of the article I highlighted stories on how the free agent market for sluggers has been depressed, how the starting rotation will be filled out behind Chris Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello, how the Red Sox use a development program to initiate their prospects to life in the big leagues, how Rusney Castillo has breathed life back into his career, and how Carson Smith’s return to the big leagues may not be as smooth as many of us are expecting.

This was a fun edition to write. Go check it out: Read Sox: Lineup Optimization, Setting the Rotation, and Rusney Castillo’s Rejuvenation.

Red Sox Roster Recap: Rafael Devers

My third entry to the 2017 BP Boston Roster Recap series went live last Friday. I wrote about recently-crowned Red Sox’s top-prospect, Rafael Devers. He comes to that title largely because other players were promoted to the big leagues or got traded to other organizations, but he is still an exciting player. His main tool is his offense; hitting is what will get him to the big leagues. If he can continue to hold-up as a decent defender at third base then he will be a really valuable player. If he has to move to first base his value will drop considerably, so hopefully he demonstrates that he will be able to handle the hot corner at the big league level.

Head over to BP Boston and read about Devers’ strong second-half and my thoughts on his likely development path: Roster Recap: Rafael Devers Can Still Rake.

My previous Roster Recap articles for the 2017 series can be found at the following links:

Red Sox Roster Recap: Dustin Pedroia

My second entry to the 2017 BP Boston Roster Recap series went live last week. In this instalment I wrote about Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia has been a reliable and productive part of the Red Sox organization for almost ten years now, however the last two seasons have been derailed by injuries. Last offseason he implemented a new workout regimen that appears to have paid dividends, as he was back to his productive self in 2016.

Go check out my thoughts on Pedroia’s healthy 2016 and outlook for 2017: Roster Recap: A healthy Dustin Pedroia is a Productive Dustin Pedroia.

My previous Roster Recap articles for the 2017 series can be found at the following links:

Flexibility in the Rotation and Bullpen, Keeping Swihart, and the Next Big Promotion

I wrote this week’s Read Sox article at BP Boston. I focused much of the article on the state of the Red Sox’s pitching staff. They have considerable flexibility in the rotation — even after the trade of Clay Buchholz — and in the bullpen, which should make the run prevention side of things better in 2017 than it was in 2016. I also discussed the decision to keep Blake Swihart out of any trade, the possible Andrew Benintendi-like promotion of Sam Travis, and looked forward to another year of fun with Hanley Ramirez.

Go check it out: Read Sox: Bye Bye Buchholz, Saving Swihart, and Travis’ Return.

Red Sox Roster Recap: Christian Vazquez

As we did last offseason, over the winter the staff at BP Boston will be devoting a recap article to every player on the 40-man roster. The idea is to review the Red Sox roster, highlighting, for each player, what went right in 2016, what went wrong in 2016, and what to expect in 2017. You can see who has been covered here.

My first entry in the series this year was Christian Vazquez. Vazquez has been a highly touted catching prospect for a few years now. He possesses excellent defensive skills but has trouble hitting his weight, which ultimately limits his value to the team.

Head to the site to read my thoughts on Vazquez’s 2016 and expectations for his role with the team in 2017: Roster Recap: Christian Vazquez is still fighting for time.

Distribution of Wins Above Replacement for 2016

Two years ago I wrote a series of articles examining the distribution of wins above replacement (WAR) for batters and pitchers for the 2010-2014 seasons.I continued this series last year as part of my review of the 2015 season. You can find those articles at the following links 2010, 2011, 2012, 20132014, and 2015. And now I am back with a similar examination for the 2016 season.

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