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The numbers don't lie

by Christopher Hackett

Red Sox fans are naturally having a tough time moving on from the Manny-Ortiz era. Manny is gone and the Ortiz we loved so much is never coming back. While he may still pop 30 bombs and drive in 100, the days of 40-120 are long gone. Baseball Prospectus has him penned to hit 25 and drive in 89 and it is hard to make a case that he is capable of much more at this point.

The Red Sox have also lost Jason Bay and replaced him with 37 year old CF Mike Cameron. This years Red Sox team isn't going to break any home run records and despite what they are telling us we do have reason to worry.

Youkilis and Pedroia are coming into their prime right now but neither guy is a true middle of the order bat. Martinez, Drew, and Cameron are all veterans who are on the decline. Ellsbury is primed to have a career season, and Scutaro is most likely about to experience the year after his.

The one place in the order as the roster is currently constructed where we don't really know what we will get is 3B Adrian Beltre. We know he is not the 48 homer guy from 2004. However, he is not the broken 8 home run guy from 2009 either. I have been watching Beltre closely throughout his time in Seattle.

Beltre capitalized on a career season far and away better than he will ever have again when cashing in on his deal in Seattle. He failed in his ability to reconstruct his 2004 season but quietly became a very good baseball player mislabeled as a bust. I don't see bust when I look at Beltre.

I see a hard working, extremely competitive, passionate player that Sox fans will love. He is a top of the line defender and great clubhouse guy. He has played the last few seasons in a pitcher's ballpark and still average around 24 HR, 36 2B and 88 RBI in his 4 healthy seasons. Baseball Prospectus predicts a 34% chance he will show improvement and a 7% chance he will have a breakout season. That means a 41% chance we will see an Adrian Beltre who can be a big contributor in the lineup. I say it is even greater now that he is moving back to a hitter's park.

As a right handed free swinger Beltre lost a lot of balls to outfielders gloves the last few seasons that have Green Monster written all over them now. I predict Beltre is still the player who put up 24 HR 88 RBI for 4 years. I adjusted that with ESPN's MLB Park Factors from 2009 and it says he will hit 26 HR, 39 2B, and 100 RBI. If he can do that this lineup is just good enough to put us into playoff contention but nothing more.

If Beltre puts up numbers closer to what is generally predicted the Sox are in serious trouble. The amount of pressure put on the pitchers will be overwhelming. The Red Sox just don't have a single young hitter who is capable of providing substantial power. Nobody is ready and waiting in the minors either. Our entire starting outfield is predicted to hit 46 HR combined this year. Jason Bay hit 36 last year alone. With some holes in their bullpen, some questions in their rotation, and Papelbon still distracted by his paycheck this team is set to implode just like the 2008 Yankees.

Not a single player is actually supposed to hit 30 HR's or drive in 100 runs. It isn't 1985 and the days of blind faith are now difficult when the data is so readily available to tell us what will happen. If the Red Sox don't make a move for Adrian Gonzalez or another true cleanup hitter by the deadline we will have a solid 3rd place season with traditional what ifs and should haves.

We have been truly spoiled in Boston for the last decade but these fans truly deserve better. The numbers don't lie, this offense just isn't very good.

Chris Hackett

2010 Lineup and Projected Stats according to 2010 Baseball Prospectus

LF Ellsbury .297 AVG 36 2B 8 3B 10 HR 55 SB
2B Pedroia .311 AVG 45 2B 16 HR 71 RBI
C Martinez .283 AVG 29 2B 20 HR 90 RBI
1B Youkilis .283 AVG 35 2B 22 HR 86 RBI
DH Ortiz .259 AVG 30 2B 25 HR 89 RBI
3B Beltre .274 AVG 27 2B 17 HR 62 RBI
RF Drew .258 AVG 25 2B 16 HR 60 RBI
CF Cameron .245 AVG 26 2B 20 HR 65 RBI
SS Scutaro .272 26 2B 11 HR 58 RBI

3 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. This article is awesome but do you really think you can project offensive performance with numbers? What about heart, perseverance and steroids?

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  3. If you look at enough numbers you can support most conclusions. So you are correct Numbers Don't lie but they can be distorted.

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