Errors, Lack of Hitting Cause Sox to Lose

The Red Sox lost their streak and their momentum with a 3-0 loss last night.  Rick Porcello actually pitched really well, with 0 earned runs.  It was errors that allowed the Blue Jays to score.


Pablo Sandoval had an error again.  Even Gold Glove winner Mitch Moreland had an error in addition to going 0-4 after hitting really well during the winning streak.  The 2nd inning was when the Jays scored all their runs.  The two errors happened back to back at the start of the 2nd inning and all of the sudden it was 2nd and 3rd.  After Justin Smoak struck out, Darwin Barney got a base hit that knocked both of them in.  2-0 Jays.  Kevin Pillar singled to make it first and second.  Then Ezequiel Carrera hit a single down the line for a third run.  It was 3-0 Jays, but Porcello didn’t have a single earned run.  


It was pretty quiet after that, and pitching was pretty good.  But the Red Sox also blew several scoring opportunities.  In the 5th, Sandy Leon grounded into a double play with 1st and 2nd.  Hanley Ramirez did the same thing in the 6th!  Instead of 2 innings in a row where they successfully scored, there were 2 innings in a row of blown opportunities.  

Both starting pitchers, Rick Porcello and Francisco Liriano had amazing games.  Neither gave up any earned runs, Liriano gave up just 4 hits in 5.1 innings, and Porcello gave up just 6 hits in 7 innings.  

I was expecting the defense to back up Porcello but Porcello did fine.  The defense was the problem.  Hopefully, Porcello’s good pitching will combine with good defense for a win the next time he starts.  


The Blue Jays ended up winning, 3-0.  Unfortunately, Liriano got the win, and Porcello got the loss despite a great pitcher’s duel that was ruined by errors.  


Chris Sale starts in today’s game at 12:30.  Will the Red Sox win their 5th out of the last 6 and take this series, or will the Blue Jays surprise them again and win?  

Advertisements

Betts, Moreland Lead Sox to Victory in High Scoring Showdown

The Red Sox came through again.  They topped the Blue Jays 8-7 in a high scoring showdown.

Brian Johnson really got rattled early.  In the first inning, Kevin Pillar led off with a double, followed by an RBI single by Kendrys Morales.  1-0 Jays already.  But Toronto wasn’t done.  Tulowitzki got a base hit to make it first and second and a Justin Smoak double scored a second run.  The Jays were up 2-0 in one inning.  Johnson was able to get out of the inning after that.  But in the 2nd, after a walk, Pillar doubled again, and after intentionally walking Jose Bautista, Johnson was stuck with the bases loaded.  Thankfully, the Red Sox defense helped him get out of the inning without a run.  Hopefully, they’ll do the same for Rick Porcello tonight.


The Red Sox struck back in the third though.  Bogaerts and Benintendi started he rally with back to back singles.  Then Betts made that three singles in a row and a run scored.  2-1 Toronto.  After a strikeout, Mitch Moreland hit another RBI single to score two more runs!

The Red Sox had a 3-2 lead, but not for long.  Justin Smoak smoked a leadoff solo shot to left to begin the bottom of the 3rd.  It was a tie game, 3-3.

The Red Sox took the lead back in the 5th though.  Betts got another base hit, and Hanley Ramirez knocked him in with a long double over Jose Bautista’s head.  It was 4-3 Sox.  But the next at bat, Moreland hit his 10th double of the year to knock in Hanley Ramirez.  That was Moreland’s 3rd RBI, and it was 5-3 Red Sox.  After that, Stroman was done.  Aaron Loup came in, but Sandoval just got another RBI hit to knock in Moreland!  6-3 Sox.  The Blue Jays went to their bullpen again, and Dominic Leone finished the inning.


The Blue Jays just struck right back though. Russell Martin crushed a solo homer, and the Jays narrowed the lead to 2 runs.  It was 6-4 Jays to end the 5th.

But in the top of the 7th Mookie Betts answered.  He nailed a solo shot to left, and made it 7-4 Red Sox.  The 3 run lead was back.  Betts also had his first homer.  The one week I don’t start him in my Home Run Derby pool, he hits a homer!  But it’s good for the Sox.


After Brian Johnson was done, the Red Sox bullpen actually did a somewhat good job quieting down the Jays.  They got in a couple of jams, but managed to hold the Blue Jays without a run for a few innings.    Kevin Pillar actually hit a third double, but Fernando Abad and Matt Barnes (after Abad was done) got them out of the inning. The Blue Jays also had 1st and 2nd in two other innings, but the Sox managed to shut them down.

In the top of the 8th the Sox scored again.  Pablo Sandoval started it with another base hit!  He was 3 for 4 on the day, with one RBI.  The Jays almost got him out on a pickoff but after a review, he was ruled safe.  After Marco Hernandez walked, Benintendi drove in the run with a ground rule double. It was 8-4 Red Sox going into the bottom of the 8th.

After a quiet 9th inning for the Sox, Barnes stayed in the game for the bottom of the 9th.  But he almost blew the game.  After 2 outs, Russell Martin walked, and Steve Pearce hit an RBI single to knock him in.  Then Ezequiel Carrera pinch hit, and he nailed a two-run homer to make it 8-7.  It was a close game now.  The Blue Jays almost came back.  But Matt Barnes put them away before any more scoring occurred.  This was all with two outs, so all that was needed to end the inning was one line drive.  That was it.

IMG_1701

The Red Sox just barely saved the game, a game they would’ve lost without an explosive lineup.  Brian Johnson actually got his first major league win.  The Sox cannot do this every game, but they’ve somehow won 4 in a row since Porcello’s horrid start on Friday.


Porcello starts again tonight.  Will the winning streak live on or will the Red Sox and Porcello blow it?  Check out my latest Baseball Bits for more on Porcello’s case.

Baseball Bits #5: Porcello Struggling, Is This Typical of First Time Cy Young Winners?

img_1569
Rick Porcello did not look good in his start on Friday.  He did not even make it out the 5th inning, pitching only 4.1 innings and giving up 8 earned runs.  This is disappointing because Porcello just won the Cy Young and we were expecting a good year.  Is it the pressure on him that’s causing him to struggle?  There was a lot of pressure on him in 2015 as a new member of the Red Sox and he struggled.  That might be the problem with all the first-year Red Sox pitchers.  On the Sox, the expectations are high and the pressure is on because the team spent has spent a lot of money on this roster.  I thought the pressure was all on Sale this year but Porcello is under pressure as well.


Porcello looked spotless last year though when the pressure was not on him as much.  He won the Cy Young.  But is it typical of a first time Cy Young winner to thrive the next year?  That gave me an idea for more research.  The question is, how many of the first-time Cy Young winners improved their ERA the next year?  I also researched how many had an ERA under 3.25 the next year: here are the results dating back to 1956, when the award was founded.
The Research



Prior to 1967, there was only one Cy Young winner for the entire MLB.


The “Baseball Bits”

  •  Only 18 players (13 AL, 3 NL, 2 when only one MLB pitcher won) of the 75 first time winners had an ERA over 4.00 the next year (just 24%!).
    • Only 2 (Mark Davis and Bartolo Colon) had an ERA over 5.00 the following year
  • Only 6 players (1 AL, 2 NL, 3 when only one MLB pitcher won) of 75 first time winners have ever improved their ERA after winning their first Cy Young (just 8%!). They were:
    • Tim Lincecum (2008, improved from 2.62 to 2.48)
    • C.C. Sabathia (2007, improved from 3.21 to 2.70)
    • Brandon Webb (2006, improved from 3.10 to 3.01)
    • Sandy Koufax (1963, improved from 1.88 to 1.74)
    • Don Drysdale (1962, improved from 2.83 to 2.63)
    • Whitey Ford (1961, improved from 3.21 to 2.90)
  • 38 players (12 AL, 21 NL, 5 when only one MLB pitcher won) have held their ERA under 3.25 the next year. That’s 54.3% of the 70 players who were first-time winners that won with an ERA under 3.25
  • The last pitcher to have an ERA under 3.25 after their first Cy Young was Jake Arrieta in 2015
  • Not including Porcello, 2 of the first time Cy Young winners were on the Red Sox (Jim Lonborg and Roger Clemens). Lonborg was one of the 18 over 4.00, with an ERA of 4.29. But Clemens had an ERA of 2.97 the next year, which was not an improvement but was under 3.25.
  • No player has improved their ERA after their first time Cy Young year since 2008 when Tim Lincecum did it. The last time it happened in the AL was in 2007 when C.C. Sabathia did it.
  • The Cy Young was won 30 times by a multiple time winner. However, only 13 people have ever won the Cy Young multiple times.  That means that some of the 13 have won more than twice
  • No pitcher with an ERA over 3.25 when they won improved their ERA after their first Cy Young
  • If Rick Porcello turns it around and improves his ERA from last year, he would be the first first-time Cy Young winner on the Red Sox to do it. Right now that seems unlikely based on how he pitched on Friday.

The Verdict

Based on this research I would not expect Porcello to improve his ERA from last year, especially after his horrid Friday night performance.  But it is possible that his ERA will stay under 3.25.  That will be hard to do.  He put up an ERA of 3.15 last year when he won the Cy Young.  But it is possible.  Is Porcello at the level of those 38 pitchers who did keep their ERA under 3.25?  Maybe not when he’s under pressure because he has stunk under pressure.

Trading for Chris Sale helped strengthen the Red Sox rotation and you would think that would get the pressure off Porcello.  Maybe by winning the Cy Young Porcello has put more pressure on himself, especially now that David Price is injured.  With Chris Sale and David Price (who will be back in June) also in the rotation and Pomeranz doing well, the Red Sox should be able to allow Porcello time to adjust.  I think there’s a chance that we can see the kind of numbers we saw from him in 2016.  I don’t think his 22 wins will be repeated but I think his numbers can be at least respectable if he makes the adjustments necessary.

The research shows that most Cy Young first-time winners keep an ERA under 4.00 (76%).  I believe that Porcello can be part of this 76% because the Sox are one of the best defensive teams in the league and they should help steal a few hits and runs.

Stay tuned for my next Baseball Bits, where I will look at how top home run hitters impact their teams.  Thanks for reading.

2017 NFL Mock Draft: Trubisky to Niners, Tight Ends Go Early

  1. PICK NO.
    1
    CLE
    DE
    TEXAS A&M

    The Browns will be tempted to take a QB, but this guy is the best player in the draft.  The Browns need a defensive end anyways.  Garrett is the easy choice with this pick.  They have another first round pick that they can use on a QB.  The Browns aren’t going to turn down the opportunity to draft Garrett.  If the Browns don’t pick him, they will regret it.

  2. PICK NO.
    2
    SF
    MITCHELL TRUBISKY
    QB
    NORTH CAROLINA

    A lot of people are saying another defensive end will go here but that’s not what the Niners need.  They need a QB or a wide receiver.  Those are urgent needs.  Trubisky is a good fit in San Francisco and he is the best option at QB this early.  The 49ers need to draft a QB in the first round or the options for them will be slim.  They have nobody who’s a plausible starting option at QB right now.  Nobody.  They can’t pass on this opportunity.

  3. PICK NO.
    3
    CHI
    REUBEN FOSTER
    ILB
    ALABAMA
    The Bears have a boatload of holes and problems right now.  But their biggest gaping hole is at linebacker.  They don’t have a starter for one of their ILB slots.  Picking Foster makes sense for Chicago right now.  They need a QB but when you have defensive needs in this year’s draft, they come first.  The defensive class this year is so deep.  If you don’t draft someone from this class in the first couple rounds, you will miss out on the best.  
  4. PICK NO.
    4
    JAX
    O.J. HOWARD
    TE
    ALABAMA
    The Jags defense is going to be fine.  They could really surprise us this year, and I think the defense is finally up to par.  Now time to focus on offense.  The loss of Julius Thomas is huge, and another tight end out of the draft would really help fill in for him.  
  5. PICK NO.
    5
    TEN
    SOLOMON THOMAS
    DE
    STANFORD
    The Titans have another first Round pick.  Their wide receiver needs take a back seat here because of this rich defensive draft class.  The Titans still haven’t fixed their defensive problems, and the defense is holding them back.  Thomas will definitely help their case.  
  6. PICK NO.
    6
    NYJ
    DAVID NJOKU
    TE
    MIAMI
    The Jets have a lot of offensive problems.  This is one case where drafting an offensive player is appropriate.  Their QB situation is pretty bad, but the gaping hole at TE is also holding the Jets back.  They need to draft one, even if the Jags happen to take Howard.  Njoku is their backup plan.  
  7. PICK NO.
    7
    LAC
    FS
    OHIO ST.
    Ever since Eric Weddle left, there has been a problem at safety on this team. Drafting a top safety is essential for this team right now.  It will give their defense a big boost, and they need it right now.  Hooker seems like the right fit for them.  
  8. PICK NO.
    8
    CAR
    LEONARD FOURNETTE
    RB
    LSU
    I was originally against Carolina drafting a running back, thinking they were alright with Stewart, but the Panthers could use another productive running back to split the carries with Stewart.  If Fournette is still available at this point, he is a must-draft for Carolina.  Forget the cornerback needs, and if you have any kind of RB need, Fournette is a definite must-draft with extremely high NFL potential, almost as high as Ezekiel Elliott’s was.  
  9. PICK NO.
    9
    CIN
    JAMAL ADAMS
    SS
    LSU
    Wow, two LSU picks in a row.  For a good reason though, a lot of LSU players have very high NFL potential.  The Bengals have had this hole since Reggie Nelson left.  Adams is a top prospect, and a good fit for the Bengals.  He is the long-awaited replacement for Nelson.  Adams has very high NFL potential as well as some other LSU players in this draft class.  
  10. PICK NO.
    10
    BUF
    MIKE WILLIAMS
    WR
    CLEMSON
    Another WR named Mike Williams on the Bills.  This guy should be a lot better and last a lot longer though.  This guy was Deshaun Watson’s main target, a superstar that helped Clemson win it all.  For a team like the Bills, they could always use another receiver, and despite the fact that Corey Davis is actually higher in most prospect Rankings, I see Williams as the best receiver in this draft class.  
  11. PICK NO.
    11
    NO
    DEREK BARNETT
    DE
    TENNESSEE
    The Saints need to go defense here.  They have plenty of defensive holes, but they do need a defensive end, and if a guy like Barnett or Solomon Thomas is still available, they should definitely be drafted here.  Drafting a corner is an option, but the defensive line class this year is much better.  
  12. PICK NO.
    12
    CLE
    DESHAUN WATSON
    QB
    CLEMSON
    With a defensive player already drafted #1 for the Browns, this is the time to take a QB.  Watson was one of the leaders in Clemson’s championship winning season.  He will either start all season in Cleveland or replace another starter at some point during the season.  You know Brock Osweiler is not satisfactory as a starter.  The Browns need a QB, either a free agent, a drafted player or someone they acquire.  I think drafting a QB is the smartest way to go.  Not many teams would give up a quality QB, but there’s a chance that the draft would give them one.  I see Watson as someone who could succeed in the NFL.  
  13. PICK NO.
    13
    ARI
    MARSHON LATTIMORE
    CB
    OHIO ST.
    The Cardinals need some other contributors in their secondary.  Honey Badger and Patrick Peterson are good, but they need some quality players around them.  Most of all, the Cardinals need a second cornerback.  Lattimore is one of the best corners in this draft, and if he’s available here, he’s not somebody you should pass on.  
  14. PICK NO.
    14
    PHI
    JABRILL PEPPERS
    SS 
    MICHIGAN
    The Eagles defense is good but it lacks depth, especially in the secondary.  Peppers could really boost the secondary, and I think he has been underrated in prospect rankings.  Peppers is more than just one of the best safeties in this draft.  He is the best safety in this draft class, at least in my opinion.   
  15. PICK NO.
    15
    IND
    DALVIN COOK
    RB
    FLORIDA STATE
    Frank Gore isn’t going to last forever, and eventually, probably in a few years, he’ll get too old to play in the NFL anymore and retire.  The Colts need a backup option who learns over the next few years and then takes over for Gore.  They should probably draft a running back at this point, a lot of the good free agent running backs already signed, and I feel like Cook is a good fit in Indy.  
  16. PICK NO.
    16
    BAL
    JONATHAN ALLEN
    DT
    ALABAMA
    The Ravens trading away Timmy Jernigan and Lawrence Guy says something.  It’s time to rebuild the defensive line.  The Ravens must bolster their line with this pick by drafting a top d-lineman available.  If Allen, Barnett, Thomas or Garrett are available here, the Ravens have to draft one of them.  With Barnett, Thomas and Garrett gone, Allen is a must-draft for Baltimore here.  The Ravens also need a defensive end, but should look for that in the second or third round.  
  17. PICK NO.
    17
    WAS
    OLB
    TEMPLE
    The Redskins did lose some offensive power, but the front seven needs an upgrade if the offense is going to go anywhere.  Reddick will help fill some of the holes in Washington’s defense and will be another strong pass rusher for them.  The Redskins have a lot of options here for their front seven, but Haason Reddick looks like a popular name lately, and that could turn into him being picked early because of it.  
  18. PICK NO.
    18
    TEN
    COREY DAVIS
    WR
    WESTERN MICHIGAN
    The Titans need a receiver with this pick.  Personally, I think one more receiver could really boost this offense.  If Davis is drafted, the Titans offense will thrive, as the defense improves and they’ll be on their way to win the AFC South and make the playoffs.  The Titans need a boost, especially because the AFC South is wide open . 
  19. PICK NO.
    19
    TB
    RYAN RAMCZYK
    OT
    WISCONSIN
    The Bucs really need another offensive tackle right now.  Their biggest offensive weakness is the offensive line.  They have other problems on defense, but the D is underrated and the OT need is urgent.  Winston will not continue to do what he’s done with insufficient protection. Marcus Mariota got better with protection from 2016 1st Round draft pick Jack Conklin.  Winston will benefit in the same way from a guy like Ramczyk.
  20. PICK NO.
    20
    DEN
    JOHN ROSS
    WR
    WASHINGTON
    For Denver, this is early for a wide receiver, but I still believe they need a third contributor behind Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.  Ross will give them the kind of impact they need, plus more.  They will have a great wide receiver trio.  Now they need a tight end and a quarterback to add to it.  Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch will not last forever as starting options.  They’re just not those kinds of players. 
  21. PICK NO.
    21
    DET
    TACO CHARLTON
    DE
    MICHIGAN
    The Lions need a booster in the front seven.  Charlton is yet another strong defensive end in this draft.  The Lions would gladly take him to provide a powerful player across from Ezekiel Ansah.  With that and last year’s addition of rookie A’Shawn Robinson, this defensive line could be great.  
  22. PICK NO.
    22
    MIA
    MALIK MCDOWELL
    DT
    MICHIGAN STATE
    The Dolphins still need defensive help, and McDowell should give some to their defensive line.  Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake are getting old.  They need to add some young talent to their defense.  Not necessarily a guy to contribute right away, more like a long term investment.  That’s just what McDowell serves as in this first round . 
  23. PICK NO.
    23
    NYG
    CAM ROBINSON
    OT
    ALABAMA
    The Giants are desperate for a tackle, especially with Marshall Newhouse on the outs.  Robinson is just the kind of powerful protection they need.  Their offensive line will be so much better with another young tackle to boost it.  Ereck Flowers did it on one side for the Giants.  Robinson can do it on the other.  
  24. PICK NO.
    24
    OAK
    CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY
    RB
    STANFORD
    Marshawn Lynch isn’t definitely coming to Oakland.  In the meantime, they need a young talent alongside DeAndre Washington.  McCaffrey would make for a great duo with Washington, and could work as a backup, third-down back or starter.  If Lynch comes in to the RB scheme, McCaffrey will still make contributions.  Lynch is old, old enough that he retired two years ago and is coming back.  He could get banged up, and that’s were McCaffrey and Washington would come in.  
  25. PICK NO.
    25
    HOU
    PATRICK MAHOMES
    QB
    TEXAS TECH
    A lot of people think that Mahomes is going to the Chiefs.  The Chiefs have interest in him, but I think he’ll go two picks earlier to Houston, and at that point the Chiefs will just give up on a QB until the later rounds.  Tom Savage will not be starting all year, and the Texans need a young, talented QB that can step in when he’s ready.  Savage will open the season as starter, but later he’ll pass on the torch to Mahomes.  
  26. PICK NO.
    26
    SEA
    FORREST LAMP
    OG
    WESTERN KENTUCKY
    The Seahawks need another offensive lineman, and Lamp is a good fit here.  The Seahawks could go tackle or guard with this pick, but in a thin offensive line class, Lamp is the best available, and that’s who you take in this kind of class at the position.  The Seahawks could upgrade their great defense, or chase another RB option, but with Lynch coming back (not neccesarily to Oakland) and Sherman possibly staying, the Seahawks need to take a lineman now or they’ll lose the chance to get anyone good.  
  27. PICK NO.
    27
    KC
    MARLON HUMPHREY
    CB
    ALABAMA
    With the hope of drafting a QB in the first round gone, I think it’s about time the Chiefs fill one of their secondary holes.  Eric Berry and Marcus Peters won’t do the whole job.  They need people around them.  Humphrey isn’t just a compliment to Marcus Peters.  If he comes through, he could be a companion to Marcus Peters, what Peters is but on the other side.  They need someone like that across from Peters, and I think Humphrey could be the guy.  
  28. PICK NO.
    28
    DAL
    ZACH CUNNINGHAM
    OLB
    VANDERBILT
    The Cowboys have a decent secondary, so they can wait on a corner.  The front seven is full of urgent needs for them, so their first round pick needs to be a front seven investment.  Cunningham seems like a good fit for them and he’s a top front seven player so I’d go with it.   
  29. PICK NO.
    29
    GB
    TAKKARIST MCKINLEY
    OLB
    UCLA
    The Packers are another team that need front seven players early.  McKinley would fill their hole at outside linebacker.  They need some linebackers because they do lack depth at the position.  If they don’t go linebacker early, they won’t be able to get a quality starter at linebacker in this thin linebacker draft class.  
  30. PICK NO.
    30
    PIT
    TRE’DAVIOUS WHITE
    CB
    LSU
    The Steelers need front seven players as well, but that can wait with the cornerback and safety needs they have.  White is a fitting first Round pick for them, it helps begin to fill the many secondary holes to fill.  White is a quality propsect that should really do his job and make a mark at cornerback.  
  31. PICK NO.
    31
    ATL
    TYUS BOWSER
    OLB
    HOUSTON
    The Falcons have needs at linebacker and now in the d-line.  Bowser would be a good fit for them and would help their weakness of strong pass rushing.  They have one guy right now, Vic Beasley.  Bowser is a quality pass rusher who should be NFL ready.  The Falcons could use a linebacker, and they may have found their match.  
  32. PICK NO.
    32
    NO
    GAREON CONLEY
    CB
    OHIO ST.
    The Saints need a corner, and fast.  Sure, they have defensive line needs and practically every defensive position needs, but they can take care of those with their 11th overall pick.  The next biggest need is at cornerback.  When Delvin Breaux is your #1 corner, you know you have a problem.  Conley will help finally start to fix the secondary needs the Saints have.  They have more than enough safeties, but they lack cornerbacks. 
    That’s all for my Mock Draft.  Watch the NFL Draft on Thursday, April 27 to see if I’m right.  If you want to make your own NFL Mock Draft and compete with other mocks on Draft Day, try the app MockOut.  I am competing against hundreds of other mocks with this one and you can make your own to compete with too.  
     

NBA Playoffs Have Begun: Who Will Win It All?

The playoffs are here for the NBA.  It’s a little late, but my predictions are ready.  Who do I have winning it all?  Find out my surprising pick below.  I have hesitated to write about the NBA since Durant signed with the Warriors and the Cavs and Warriors became unbeatable super teams, but with the Celtics in the #1 seed, I’m feeling optimistic about a different final outcome.

This is my 2017 NBA Playoff Prediction.  Not many surprises early on, with the top seeds winning in every match-up except two, with the #5 Hawks beating the #4 Wizards, and the #6 Thunder beating the #3 Rockets, which could easily happen.  I don’t think the Rockets will be as good in the playoffs, they’re only slightly better than they were last year when they were seeded #8.  The Thunder have triple-double shooting Russell Westbrook on their side.  That should last them at least until they play a Top 2 seed.

The Conference Semifinals is where I have the first of a few shockers.  I have the Spurs, Celtics, and Cavs reaching Conference Finals as expected.  But I do have one surprise in the West.  Golden State will lose in the Conference Semifinals.  For many years now, I have seen Los Angeles as a legitimate contender in the West.  I think they are a team that can beat the Warriors.  They’re not the better team, but in a head-to-head match-up, the Clippers can overpower Golden State.

The Conference Finals bring more surprises.  I think the kind of shocker the Celtics pulled over Cleveland in their one regular season win against the Cavs could happen again.  They would need multiple wins in Cleveland, but especially if Kevin Love is not 100% by the Conference Final, the Celts do have a chance.  Sure, the Celtics won’t be going any further, but they have a chance to win here and go further than they’ve been since 2008.

Now, when they or Cleveland get to the NBA Championship, that will be the end.  I think no matter what happens, a Western Conference team will win the NBA Championship.  Neither the Celtics or Cavs are capable of beating Golden State, San Antonio or LA in a 7 game series.  So, it’ll be a team from the West raising the trophy.  My pick right now for that team is the Spurs.  They have a good defense, the stars they need on offense and a good all-around team.  This is the year San Antonio finally wins after a few years of waiting on a super team that’s come so close.  They won in 2013-14, and they’ve come so close since, but they can do it again three years later.   It’s hard to believe the Spurs have only won one NBA Championship in the last 5 years with the roster they have.

Baseball Bits #4: Setting The Expectations for Chris Sale in 2017

 

img_1569
Hope you’re excited baseball fans because baseball is back in season! That means it’s time for another Baseball Bits. In the off-season, the Red Sox acquired Chris Sale from the White Sox. On Chicago, he was an ace, finishing as a Top 10 AL pitcher in ERA for the last 3 years. But historically, pitchers with a top 10 ERA in their league often don’t repeat their success the following season if they’re joining a new team. I did some research to prove it. So, don’t think Chris Sale will be the same in 2017 as he was the last two years.
What are the expectations for Chris Sale in 2017? That’s what I did the research for. What I looked for were top 10 pitchers by ERA in their league that changed teams the following year. What I wanted to find out is how many of them had an ERA under 3.50 on their new team. Pitchers that were on my spreadsheet were filtered by the following guidelines:

  1. The pitcher must be in the top 10 or tied for top 10 in ERA that year.
  2. They must have been on a different team the year after they made the leaderboard.
  3. They must have stayed on the team they join for the whole season.
  4. The team they joined must have been joined in the off-season after they made the leaderboard.
  5. The team they joined cannot be a team they left earlier in the year when they made the leaderboard.

I have used this research to set expectations for Chris Sale in 2017, and compare his expectations to the rest of the rotation. I have also projected stats for Sale compared to the rest of the rotation based on the research. Pitchers with ERAs under 3.50 on their new team are highlighted below.
The Research since 1960
AL


NL

The Baseball Bits

  • 95 Pitchers who were in the top 10 in ERA for the AL or NL switched teams the following year.  Of those 95, only 17 (13 AL, 4 NL), improved their ERA. That’s 17.9%!  1 of them did not have an ERA under 3.50 in either year (Tim Hudson, 3.53 Year 1, 3.52 Year 2).
    • Only 37 out of the 95 pitchers (20 AL, 17 NL), just 38.9% had an ERA under 3.50 in their first year with the new team!
    • Only 16 (8 in each league) of these 37 had an ERA under 3.00 (43.2%)
  • Pitchers that changed teams but not leagues actually performed better than those that switched leagues
    • 23 out of 47 pitchers that changed teams but not leagues that were in the top 10 ERA had ERAs under 3.50 in their first year with their new team. That is 48.9%
    • Only 14 of the 48 pitchers that changed teams AND changed leagues that were in the top 10 ERA had ERAs under 3.50 in their first year with their new team. That is 29.1%
  • John Lackey was the last pitcher to have an ERA under 3.50 on a new team, with his 3.35 mark in 2016. Max Scherzer in 2015 was the last from the AL in their Top 10 year. Scherzer changed leagues but Lackey stayed in the same division.
  • Not many Top 10 pitchers League-wide switched teams back in the early 1900s. Between 1900 and 1960, only 9 top 10 pitchers by League ERA overall switched teams the following season.
    • However, 6 of those 9 had an ERA under 3.50 on their new team.
  • The Red Sox have signed/acquired 7 pitchers (David Price, Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, John Burkett, Danny Darwin, Zane Smith, Dennis Eckersley) that were Top 10 in ERA in their league the previous year. Of those 7, only Martinez (2.89), Eckersley (2.99) and Schilling (3.26) have had an ERA under 3.50 in their 1st year. The other 4 averaged a 4.82 ERA in their first years in Boston, Price (3.99), Burkett (4.53), Smith (5.61) and Darwin (5.16).  Only Eckersley improved his ERA.  Sale is the 8th acquisition but we don’t know how he’ll do.
  • 6 active pitchers have had an ERA under 3.50 on a new team after their Top 10 year. However, the lowest ERA on their new team by an active pitcher is 3.34 (Jon Lester in 2015).
  • Only one pitcher has ever changed teams after a Top 10 year and had an ERA under 3.50 more than once in their career, Kevin Brown.
  • Pitchers that changed teams but not leagues actually performed better than those that switched leagues

The Verdict

Repeating a top 10 ERA year on a new team does not happen very often. It’s hard to do. A lot of big name players have done it, but I’d say there’s probably one Hall-of-Famer on the spreadsheet that hasn’t done it for every Hall-of-Famer that has.  Is Chris Sale a future Hall-of-Famer and is he as good as the Hall-of-Famers that have succeeded in year one with their new team?  We’ll find out this season. What I can tell you is that I’ve found a reasonable expectation level for Chris Sale based on the research. Typically, pitchers on the spreadsheet that didn’t do well are at least somewhat better in their second year with their new team.  I hope David Price follows that trend despite his elbow issues that will keep him out early in the year.  Sale staying in the same league might help his success this year not hurt it as one would expect facing new players. But, interleague play, better defense, and changing divisions might also be a factor that my research did not include.

Okay, so here are my expectations & predictions for Chris Sale in 2017 based on the research. I’ve compared the predictions to my thoughts on the rest of the Red Sox rotation

For Chris Sale, I’m not expecting him to have an ERA under 3.00. He is pumped to be on the Red Sox though, so I’m expecting a winning record and an ERA between 3.00 and 3.75. He won’t be as good as he was in his best seasons in Chicago but he will be a big help to the Red Sox rotation. The rotation actually looks really good this year. Now here’s my prediction for Sale. Below I’ve also included stat predictions for Price, Porcello, E-Rod, Drew Pomeranz and Steven Wright.

  • Chris Sale: 18-8, 3.57 ERA, 216 K, 1.26 WHIP
  •  David Price: 11-5, 3.66 ERA, 148 K, 1.34 WHIP
  • Rick Porcello: 19-9, 3.28 ERA, 174 K, 1.17 WHIP
  • Eduardo Rodriguez: 16-9, 3.42 ERA, 151 K, 1.32 WHIP
  • Drew Pomeranz: 14-9, 4.04 ERA, 143 K, 1.36 WHIP
  • Steven Wright: 12-6, 3.64 ERA, 117 K, 1.28 WHIP

I expect all the Red Sox pitchers to have decent years, with Sale, E-Rod and Porcello among the best. Price would be up there too, but his injury is holding him back a little bit.

Baseball is back! Get excited, Sale makes his debut today!  And get excited for more post from me!

Benintendi, Porcello Lead Sox to Opening Day Victory


The Red Sox won again on Opening Day.  They topped the Pirates 5-3.  The Red Sox were powered by stellar pitching from Rick Porcello and a 5th inning rally started by a JBJ triple with two outs.  He nailed it into the right corner and speeded around the bases.  Pablo Sandoval went on to drive him in, and by the time Benintendi walked up to the plate, it was 1st and 2nd and the Red Sox had a 2-0 lead. Then, Benintendi nailed a homer into the right field corner, giving the Red Sox a 5-0 lead in the 5th inning.  

Early on, it was a pitchers duel.  In the first 4 innings, Gerrit Cole gave up just 1 hit and struck out 2.  Rick Porcello gave up just 3 hits and struck out 5 in the first 6 innings.  He was backed up by some great defense by JBJ and Andrew Benintendi.  After the 5th inning rally, the Red Sox slipped up a little bit, but recovered.  However, in the 7th inning, the Pirates got back into the game.  

With David Freese on first, Francisco Cervelli crushed a double into left field.  Then soon after Josh Harrison drove David Freese in.  With that, Porcello left the game while it was still going well.  He was credited with a quality start.  Then Matt Barnes came in.  But the rally continued with another RBI single, followed by a walk and a sac fly.  It was now 5-3.  After the 7th inning, the pitchers began to thrive again.  The rest of the relievers that came in during the 7th and 8th were doing well.  Then Kimbrel came in for the Sox in the top of the 9th.  Despite letting the Pirates get away with 1st and 2nd, Kimbrel earned the save.  


The Red Sox won again on Opening Day.  They return to action on Wednesday night, as Chris Sale debuts.