Ask Nick: Where Wakefield fits in

Welcome to this week’s mailbag.

Lots of concerns about Tim Wakefield’s 200th win and when and under what circumstances he’ll get it. Looks as if the Sox will alter their pitching rotation after the Yankees series this week, so we’ll see where, if any place, Wake fits in. The team wants him to get the win, obviously, but only if it fits with their rotation plans.

Is Jacoby Ellsbury the greatest Red Sox leadoff hitter of all time? We’ll delve into that a bit as well.

Here we go:

Q: Should Terry have trotted out Wake in the 5th inning of the rain-delayed second game on Saturday to get an out and the 200th victory? Not sure if that would qualify Wake as the pitcher of record, and I am sure Wake would not want it that way. Just saying.
Bill Pacelli, Warrenton, Va.

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NC: No way Wake would want to do it that way. Who knows, though, if he finds himself in a relief situation, it may wind up being that way. But I think they’ll get him another start or two so he can achieve it.

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Q: When Tim Wakefield pitched in the series against the White Sox, there was an older gentleman sitting in front of me wearing a number 49 Wakefield jersey with the number 200 (number of wins) on the front- — was that Tim’s dad? If so, has he been following Tim around to be there for his 200th win?
Tim Armstrong, Glen Ellyn, Ill.

NC: May have been. Tim’s dad and mom have followed him around in anticipation of his 200th, but I have no idea without seeing him, if that was him.

Q: In connection with interleague games in 2012, will the Red Sox travel to LA to play the Dodgers in 2012?
Mark Kramer, Cambria, Calif.

No Dodger Stadium trip.

Q: Hello Nick. Going up for the series with the Orioles Sept.19th. Looking ahead for the playoffs, whether its a wild card or East title, my starting three would be Beckett, Lester, and Lackey. I would maybe switch or flip flop Beckett/Lester depending who the opening series opponent would be — Texas or Detroit as of right now. What’s your thought? Thank you!
Bobby Desjardins, New Orleans

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NC: I’m not sure it matters who is No. 1 or who is No. 2 vs. Texas or Detroit. Both are good hitting teams from both sides of the plate, so there’s no real advantage to starting one over the other in Games 1 and 2. Nether guy dominates either team anyway. Right now, I think it would be Beckett. I think being the veteran and the so-called leader of the starting rotation, they would want Beckett to get them off on the right foot.

Q: I was wondering if you have noticed use of a stat of a percentage of runners scoring from third with one out or fewer being used anywhere? I noticed it on the YES Network a while back, but have never seen it on NESN or any of the national networks. It seems the Red Sox have been missing a few too many opportunities in this area, and I would be interested in seeing player and team stats on this.
James, Coeur d’Alene, Id.

NC: Interesting observation. The Red Sox are middle of the pack (15th in MLB) in average (.321) with a runner at third and fewer than two outs, but have driven in 209 runs, second to the Yankees (216). They have an .899 OPS (on-base percentage and slugging) in these situations, which is also second to the Yankees. So overall, not bad I guess.

Q: What does OPS stand for? Where can I find definitions for these types of sports abbreviations. Thank you.
Ron, Palmer

NC: OPS is slugging plus on base percentage. It’s a good indicator of the overall effectiveness of a hitter. Probably a better measurement than just batting average. You can Google it and probably get a good definition.

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Q: Ellsbury may finish the season with 100 RBIs When was the last time a Red Sox leadoff hitter had 100 RBIs or more? How does Ellsbury compare as a hitter to the greatest leadoff hitters in Red Sox history?
Paul Fein, Agawam

NC: No Red Sox leadoff hitter has ever knocked in 100 runs. Nomar Garciaparra holds the Sox record with 98 in 1997. Garciaparra hit .306 with 30 homers and 98 RBIs, 22 steals, and an .875 OPS. Looks like Ellsbury will come real close to those numbers and obviously have more steals than Nomar. Ellsbury would have to be considered one of the best leadoff hitters in Sox history already and by the time he’s through, I think he may the one. Of course, it all depends on what your criteria is for leadoff hitters. Wade Boggs hit .321 with a .413 on base percentage and an .848 OPS in 931 games as a leadoff hitter. Dom DiMaggio hit .298 with a .384 OBP in 1,035 games. In 1950 he hit .328 with a .414 OBP and .866 OPS with 15 steals. Pick your poison.

Q: When the Sox go on the road it must be a huge job to make sure all the equipment is present and accounted for. How many uniforms per player? Do they have contracts with vendors in each city for cleaning? How about bats if a player breaks a few where do the replacements come from?
Dick, Bonita Springs, Fla.

NC: The Sox bring their own clubhouse manager — Joe Cochran — to all road games. Uniforms are laundered at the visiting ballpark. Each player brings his own supply of bats, which are transported with the rest of the equipment. Cochran does an amazing job with all of that stuff. According to Joe, they bring two of everything and catchers have three of everything.

Q: Our manager is trying to get Wake his 200th win, which would be fine if we clinched the East, but he’s costing us the division just for the sake of Wake’s historical feat.
Michael Cioffi, Troy, NY

NC: Don’t think they would pick Wake’s 200th over costing themselves the division. They want to get him the 200, but they’ll be careful from here on out on when they’ll be able to start him. Once the Yankees series ends, the rotation may not include him. We’ll see.

Q: I had 4 great tix for what would have been Sunday’s game and could not take my kids as planned due to the weather. Connecticut was essentially warning people to stay off the road. This really stinks! I understand the urgency for the West Coast team to avoid a makeup … but what about the many fans like me who are getting hurt?
Jake, Middletown, Conn.

NC: I heard a few of these stories, Jake. I know a lot of people who didn’t show up Saturday because of the weather and the impending hurricane. I know in speaking to Red Sox officials they are very upset about this, but right now I don’t know if there are any plans to make it up to those fans. I’m just not sure what they can do. And I’m not sure they know what to do.

Q: Silly question, but in this day and age, why do players still wear helmets with only one flap? I understand why they did why they first started, but most players now have grown up through LL, HS, and the minors wearing two flaps. Seems silly especially for switch hitters.
Tom, Rocky Hill, Conn.

NC: Jed Lowrie wears a two-flapper as a switch-hitter, and you’re right, they’re used to wearing two flaps but they get away from it in the majors. No other Red Sox player wears one. Mark Bellhorn and Carlos Rodriguez also wore them for Sox.

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