One day away

ANAHEIM, Calif — A few things to consider while the Red Sox to work out today at Angel Stadium:

  • Nick Cafardo this morning details the fascinating story about how Mark Teixeira nearly played for the Red Sox organization out of high school.

    Teixeira often has been identified as the potential reason the Angels will overtake the Red Sox in the postseason. He has, without question, made the Angels’ lineup deeper, more dynamic, and more potent.

    But he has not changed the team’s approach or aligned it with the best way to inflict damage in the postseason – wearing down starters with patience and then creaming the bullpen.

    From the season’s outset to July 29, the day before Teixeira made his Los Angeles debut, the Angels saw 3.65 pitches per plate appearance, the lowest rate in the majors. Since his arrival, they have seen 3.64 pitches per plate appearance. They finished the season at 3.65 total, dead last.

    The Yankees made the grind-down-the-starter approach famous during their World Series years in the late ’90s. The Red Sox steamrolled through last October by taking 3.87 pitches per plate appearance. This season, the Red Sox matched that exactly in the regular season and finished sixth in the majors.

  • Apropos of nothing: Teixeira and Manny Ramirez – two players with an obvious connection to the Red Sox and who played in both leagues this year – have some eerily similar statistics in some obscure categories.

    * They both saw 3.92 pitchers per plate appearance

    * They both had 74 extra-base hits

    * They both grounded into 17 double plays

    * Teixeira had 17 game-winning RBIs, Ramirez 16

    Now that is the kind of useless minutiae you can always rely on Extra Bases for.

  • Amalie Benjamin takes a nice look at Jon Lester getting the Game 1 start. We learn from Amalie that Terry Francona is optimistic about Lester’s chances. Allow Extra Bases to point out a statistic that offers more reason for optimism, and requires both a bit of build-up beforehand and a disclaimer afterward.

    Build-up: Lester has made 59 starts in his major league career and has a 27-8 record, a .771 winning percentage.

    Optimism: Among active pitchers with at least 40 career starts, he has the best winning percentage. Among any pitcher in the history of baseball with at least 59 starts, Lester’s .771 winning percentage is second to only Al Spalding, who went 48-12 (.800), threw his last pitch in 1877, and founded Spalding sporting goods.

    Disclaimer: Both stats were gleaned completely with idea in mind of making this particular argument and therefore could be rendered slightly superfluous.

    The overall point remains. The Red Sox are not replacing Josh Beckett, God of Autumn that he may be, with some overmatched kid. At this moment in his career, Lester has a chance to be a historically great pitcher. That’s not an exaggeration, but what the numbers suggest. It is possible that 50 years from now, a baseball fan will stumble upon a yellowed newspaper clipping from the past few days and exclaim, “The Red Sox actually wanted to pitch Jon Lester after Josh Beckett?”

    (Actually, if in 50 years anyone stumbles upon a newspaper clipping, he or she will first say, “What the hell is this?” and then go back to streaming newsfeeds via Google straight into their cerebral cortex. But that’s another, highly depressing story.)

  • We should get an update, and perhaps definitive word, on the playing status of Mike Lowell and J.D. Drew later today. For what it’s worth, here were the Red Sox’ records this season when …

    Drew and Lowell both appeared: 45-42

    Lowell appeared, Drew didn’t: 19-9

    Drew appeared, Lowell didn’t: 13-7

    Neither Drew nor Lowell appeared: 18-9

    Absurd conclusion: Drew and Lowell shouldn’t play.

    Actual conclusion: Stats make no sense. I give up.

  • Norm MacDonald was on my flight to Long Beach. What an honor.
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