Previewing the Boston Red Sox | The Process Report

Previewing the Boston Red Sox

Hate them or hate the Rays have to play the Red Sox again. This set will be up in the #BestCity so hide your minorities and let’s delve into how both of these teams looks this year starting with the batters:

As a team the Red Sox have hit quite a bit better than the Rays, though Tampa Bay has fared better on their balls in play. The difference in offensive philosophy is most stark when looking at when the ball isn’t play. The Red Sox play in a park that rewards batters tremendously for putting the ball in play, and crushes mightily those that are unable to do so. I mean, walks are fine, and the Rays shine there, but the strikeout is just so crippling in this minigolf course posing as a Major League Baseball stadium. That is where the Rays will be hurt most in this series. While the Rays leave a guy on 2B after multiple whiffs the Red Sox are able to move him over and get him in with balls that go where they’re needed. Let’s look at wOBA expectations and actual results to date:

The Red Sox have over performed slightly, but nowhere near what the Rays have done. That doesn’t mean they don’t have positive regression candidates like Derek Norris, or Even Longoria, or somehow, the scintillating Logan Morrison. Dickerson and Souza are the furthest in the other direction. Mitch Moreland and Hanley Ramirez, bum shoulder and all, look like the biggest threat at the plate. Not exactly Manny and Papi, but let’s see YOU build a ballclub on $197,000,000. This is probably the series that Jackie Bradley Jr. starts to catch up on where he should be. Let’s take that expected wOBA* and bring in the non-ball in play stuff:

Here is where you see the teams diverge after being somewhat close on expected results on balls in play. I have the Rays with around a 94 xwRC+ as a team while the Red Sox come in at 103. Again we see Moreland and Ramirez showing up as their best hitters, but Benintendi and Betts are also pretty good. Chris Young will probably give Blake Snell fits, but that’s about it. The other side of the coin shows Bogaerts as their worst hitter mostly due to poor contact. The Rays-side shows LoMo on an island and then Rasmus, longoria and Beckham on the plus side. While there are plenty of players in the negative, Kevin Kiermaier stands out on his own as the worst hitter in baseball. His mental mistakes in the field of late should have led to some pine time, but I’m not the manager. Let’s look at the pitching:

The Rays show up a little better on the pitching side thanks to some good starts of late, and a couple of new faces doing well in the pen. Boston shows very well here, especially in walk avoidance and strikeout prowess. They have been prone to some harder contact. Here are the culprits:

Boston has been hit a little harder than the deserved, while the Rays have seemingly gotten off very light. Jose Alvarado has looked like a revelation early, but this is a pen that is getting worn out without any offdays and routine usage.

No surprise that most of their production value comes from Chris Sale. Without him this would be a middle of the pack stable, but they have him. Kimbrel has been better than anyone we have, and Hembree damn near it. That means you’re looking at a couple of relief aces to go with the starter version and Eduardo Rodriguez also has performed well. This bullpen looks nasty, and what we saw earlier this year confirms the notion. The Rays have a couple of nice arms in their pen, but not nearly the number or magnitude. Archer can go toe to toe with just about anybody, but Chris Sale is head and shoulders ahead.

Looking at these two teams it is surprising they’re as close as they are in the standings. If the Rays want to keep it that way they’re going to need to show up this series and play for their lives. Otherwise feels like more shovelfuls being dumped in the hole.

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