Today I look at the Red Sox as matched up with a team of active ex-Red Sox. While I have included BPro Wins Above Replacement figures with each player, I’ve made mental adjustments for expected regression, progression and dark magicks. I ignored bench players and middle relievers because of their inherent replaceability, but I still think this is a good-faith effort to see who’s better, independent of salary.
C: Blake Swihart (-.16) vs. A.J. Pierzynski (Braves, .78)
I can’t believe it either, but Pierzynski is the only real option for starting catcher. Jarrod Saltalamacchia isn’t really in the big leagues and David Ross isn’t an everyday player. That’s pretty much it. For as much bad as we can say about Pierzynski — and we could go damn near forever — we can say very little about Swihart except that, thank the gods, he’s not Pierzynski. Let’s call it even if only from the standpoint of human decency.
1B: Mike Napoli (-.14) vs. Adrian Gonzalez (1.99)
This one’s not really close. Napoli is in a giant slump and Gonzalez has been the best hitter in the game so far this season, more or less. The ex-Sox leap ahead.
2B: Dustin Pedroia (1.24) vs. Mike Aviles (.44)
Pedroia has held the Red Sox’ second base position down for so long that we need to shoehorn Aviles in here just to round out the infield (unless we want Stephen Drew and his 0 WAR, which we don’t). The current Red Sox are as far ahead here as they are anywhere, and we’re more or less even again.
SS: Xander Bogaerts (.33) vs. Jose Iglesias (.40)
This would be Jed Lowrie (1.36) of the Astros, but Lowrie is hurt, as usual, and everybody loves Iggy. Bogaerts may yet become the ninth wonder of the world, but if you had a team with the offenses that both of these teams have, the defense would be the important part if you were playing the game today. Bogaerts’ future means squat here. Slightest advantage to the ex-Sox.
3B: Pablo Sandoval (.73) vs. Adrian Beltre (.05)
There are no losers here. Pats on the head for everyone. Sandoval has been better this year, but Beltre is Beltre. Let’s call it even, with the ex-Sox a tick ahead.
DH: David Ortiz (.07) vs. Victor Martinez (-.29)
Another case of two players I love, both of whom have started slowly. Advantage Red Sox, though, because come on. It’s a dead heat. It won’t stay that way.
Outfield: Hanley Ramirez (.72), Mookie Betts (1.26), Brock Holt (\o/, .44)
Yoenis Cespedes (.27), Jacoby Ellsbury (.97), Brandon Moss (.14)
Both of these teams would rotate their outfielders and both teams have good a good set of them beyond the starters; for the Red Sox, you have Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava and Rusney Castillo waiting in the wings, while for the ex-Sox, you have Coco Crisp and, yes, Carl Crawford. Did I say “Carl Crawford?” Advantage: Red Sox, who are about to get slaughtered.
Clay Buchholz (.81), Rick Porcello (-.15), Justin Masterson (.15), Wade Miley (-.11), Joe Kelly (.03)
Jon Lester (.89), Anibal Sanchez (.50), Bartolo Colon (.71), John Lackey (.80) and Rubby de la Rosa (.10)
Advantage: The ex-Sox by five miles. Maybe 10 miles.
Closer: Koji Uehara (.21) vs. Andrew Miller (.49)
Andrew Miller has been almost as good as possible be this year. His ERA is 0.00 in 15+ innings. He has a 28:8 K:BB ratio. He has 13 saves. He’s a big reason the Yankees are in first place.
Koji is Koji.
Advantage: Red Sox, but the damage has been done. You’re going to want those ex-Sox in a single game, a seven-game series or a season. It’s okay, because the Red Sox are still (really!) damn good, and come into tonight’s game at 41 percent to make the playoffs and the highest expected winning percentage in the AL East, all while being three games below .500.
… if it doesn’t work out, just know the Ghost Sox are doing work out here, too.
Photo by Caylor Arnold/USA Today Sports Images