The Red Sox will look to Ryan Dempster in 2013
With Baseball Tonight at Boston Red Sox spring training camp today, here’s a look at notable “Stats to Know” about a team that was very active in the offseason in an effort to avoid duplicating the disaster that was 2012.
How bad was it?
The Red Sox went 69-93 in 2012. Their .426 winning percentage was their worst since going 62-100 (.383) in 1965. 2012 snapped a streak of 45 straight seasons without 90 losses, which was the longest active in the MLB.
The Red Sox top player by Wins Above Replacement was Dustin Pedroia (4.7). The Red Sox have had only one other season in the last 50 in which their WAR leader’s total was so low—in 1980, when Fred Lynn paced the team with 4.5 WAR.
New faces at the plate
The Red Sox projected Opening Day starting lineup contains five new position players from last season's debut lineup. Among the acquisitions, Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes will play the corners in the outfield, Mike Napoli first base, Stephen Drew shortstop, and fill-in reserves David Ross and Mike Carp will catch and play first base respectively.
The acquisitions of Gomes, Napoli and Victorino should help the Red Sox against left-handed pitching. The latter three all rank in the top 30 among active players in career slugging percentage against lefties.
The Red Sox went 26-25 in games against lefty starting pitchers in 2012.
Ross has a reputation as a good defensive catcher, a thought backed up by this stat: opponents have a 64 percent career stolen-base success rate against Ross, fourth-lowest against active catchers with at least 300 games behind the plate.
Mike Napoli vs Breaking Pitches
Last 2 seasons
The most trepidation comes with Napoli, who had to settle for a one-year deal after hip issues uncovered with his physical torpedoed a potential 3-year contract.
Napoli went from striking out in 20 percent of his plate appearances in 2011 to a career-high 30 percent rate in 2012 (seventh-highest in the majors). His effectiveness against breaking pitches declined sharply as well, as noted in the chart on the right.
New faces on the mound
The Red Sox made two significant additions to their pitching staff in starter Ryan Dempster and closer Joel Hanrahan.
Boston hopes to get the version of Dempster who pitched for the Cubs last season to a 2.25 ERA and 1.04 WHIP, rather than the one who had a 5.09 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 69 innings with the Rangers. The key stat tied to his struggles: he allowed only nine home runs with the Cubs, but yielded 10 in 35 fewer innings with the Rangers.
The Red Sox are betting that Dempster's track record of consistency will help lower the starting rotation's 5.19 ERA from last season (a franchise-worst in the Live-Ball Era). His strikeout, walk, and homerun numbers have been consistent over the last four seasons, during which his FIP (an ERA estimator that uses those stats to measure effectiveness) has ranged from 3.69 to 3.99.
Hanrahan had 36 saves and a 2.72 ERA last season. However, a couple of key indicators were outliers for him.
Hanrahan’s percentage of baserunners stranded (89.7 percent) and BABIP (.230) both ranked in the top five among NL relievers with at least 50 innings last season and were far removed from his career averages of 75 percent and .306.