Just a quick link here to detour you to an e-mail interview/conversation I had over the past few days with Patrick Sullivan and Marc Normandin on the outstanding Red Sox Beacon site.
You probably know them from some of their other work, and if you don't, you should. Patrick writes the great Change-Up column for one of my longtime favorite sites, Baseball Analysts, and is also very accomplished at poking Jon Heyman with a stick on Twitter. Marc is a staple at Baseball Prospectus, which is to say he's equally adept at progressive analysis and engaging writing. Suffice to say you'll be reading these guys long after you're tired of my nonsense.
I was actually a little intimidated chatting with them, since they're even more sabermetrically inclined than I am. As much as I appreciate FIP and BABIP -- and I do -- I still catch myself resisting the temptation to say "well, so-and-so passes the eye test" when the numbers don't agree with my perception. The example in this instance is Clay Buchholz, who had a 2.33 ERA but a 3.61 FIP last season, suggesting he's a prime candidate to regress this season.
What I saw in Buchholz last season was a poised 26-year-old with an elite starter's repertoire who utilized his fielders rather than trying to pile up the strikeouts like young pitchers are often prone to doing. Barring the unforeseen, I expect Buchholz to be just as effective this year; the numbers, based in part on his low K/BB ratio and low K-rate last season, things he is specifically responsible for independent of how his fielders perform, don't. I'm extremely curious to see how it plays out, because it's going have an impact on my faith in FIP.
One other loose thought about the Red Sox' starting pitching: A couple of readers mentioned that I excluded Daisuke Matsuzaka in my column discussing the Bill James Handbook's projections for various Red Sox in 2011. I did that not for any weaselly reason, but because I simply didn't want to list everyone. But I did look up Matsuzaka's projection, and it is remarkably, frighteningly similar to that of another Sox starter. Check it out:
- Matsuzaka: 10 wins, 9 losses, 3.85 ERA, 27 starts, 174 innings.
- Josh Beckett: 10 wins, 9 losses, 3.86 ERA, 26 starts, 168 innings.
I believe there is only one accurate response to that:
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.