Welcome back to Read Sox! For this week’s edition, we’ll look at the possibility that some of 2015’s disappointing players will rebound, John Farrell’s potential role in the upcoming season and optimism concerning projections and error bars.
As we look forward to the 2016 season, it goes without saying that the majority of us expect certain players to bounce back from a terrible 2015 campaign. The Boston Globe‘s Alex Speier sees things differently, however, and questions the notion that Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval are locks to rebound.
Speier hits upon an interesting point here. As much as we’d like to assume the two infielders will return to form next season, it’s not terribly likely that both of them will. Hanley’s on the wrong side of 30, and injury-prone guys don’t usually stop being injury-prone over the course of one offseason or by switching positions to something a tad less stressful defensively. Sure, Sandoval’s already had oscillation in terms of output over his career, but the older he gets, the more the chance for yet another rebound drops, and sooner or later, he won’t be able to reach his peak form anymore. That’s not to say neither of them could be good again, but it wouldn’t be smart to assume that they’ll both round back into four-win-player form. They might be serviceable, but not spectacular.
Speaking of comebacks, John Farrell will return in his usual capacity as manager next season, and Ben Buchanan at Over The Monster speculates that his performance this season will be key to how the Red Sox perform with a lot of new faces and relatively unknown quantities.
I’ll admit, it’s hard to judge managers and their effects on games. You can only evaluate what decisions they make, and sometimes bad choices lead to teams falling backwards into great situations. Buchanan points out that the tolerance for certain players performing badly is lower now than it was, and that Farrell doesn’t have the margin of error that was much wider in the last couple years, health notwithstanding. If a prominent name is routinely performing poorly, things need to change. Farrell has always been seen as a player’s manager, but sometimes hard choices have to be made to keep a team afloat. He won’t be the difference between an AL East pennant and a last-place finish, but being a proactive manager will help this team succeed even more.
Over at Fangraphs, a post by two analysts experienced in how MLB front offices work talked about the state of analytics in the sport. The notion that you can’t have analytics without scouting holds true, as younger players tend to require more scouting than statistical evaluations to gain a clear idea of what that player is, while older players are the other way around. It’s a very curious read for those wondering how front offices are changing post-sabermetric revolution.
Projections are fun, but one cannot put a lot of stock into them, especially if they’re favorable to your team, writes Mike Silverman at the Boston Herald. The margin bars on a team’s win total are seen at about 10 wins or so, meaning that if the Sox are projected to win 90, they could bottom out and only win 80 or go bonkers and reach 100 victories. Luck and injuries will still play vital roles here, as projections systems can’t account for either on a consistent basis. It’s nice to see the Red Sox at the top of the projections, but they were also there last winter, so be wary.
Dustin Pedroia is a defensive wizard. We know that much is true – he’s the kind of player that’s so good with a glove that you just know you’ll mis him when he’s gone. But, like a lot of us, he’s got no use for defensive metrics like UZR and DRS, or seasons where he can’t even play 100 games, as WEEI’s Rob Bradford reports. Pedroia has always been up front about what he cares and doesn’t care about, and not liking defensive metrics isn’t really a bad thing, since they have been notoriously unreliable from year to year. We all know he’s good at what he does, and as long as he’s not hurt, he’ll do well.
Now that’s he’s got a starting job in the outfield, Jackie Bradley Jr. has the demeanor of a guy ready to take on the challenge of being in Boston, as Tim Britton notes over at the Providence Journal. Playing in a Red Sox uniform is not easy, as Carl Crawford can heartily attest to. JBJ’s gotten over the stress and pressure that come from playing in a town that gives so much attention to the sport. He wants to keep proving himself, and for the sake of all of us, I hope he keeps on doing so.
With Chris Davis back in the AL East, the Orioles become more one-dimensional, as MassLive’s Christopher Smith points out. The Orioles sorely needed competent starting pitching, as they were in the bottom 10 of most starting pitcher statistics last year. Their offense will be good, no doubt – Adam Jones, Manny Machado and the re-signing of Davis certainly help there – but the pitching is a major question mark. On paper, they don’t look like they’ll be to challenge Toronto or Boston, but as they always say, that’s why they play the game.
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