• Bosox: Our Yardstick Differs From Yankees

    Posted by on February 24th, 2010 · Comments (11)

    Via the Providence Journal -

    The New York Yankees are famously held to the highest standard in baseball, that of “World Series or bust.” The perception is that every season that does not end in a World Series trophy is considered a failure by the Steinbrenner family.

    After a decade of consistent winning, Boston’s ownership group — John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino — sat side by side and mulled over an interesting question; with all the recent success, and the outcry that begins when the Sox bow out early in the playoffs, have they, too, reached that point?

    Henry paused — then shot that idea down.

    “I think that our goal every year is to make the playoffs. If we make the playoffs, we’re going to win at some point in the postseason. We’ve been fortunate to do that twice,” Henry said.

    Moments later, he turned to Lucchino. “Do we have a stated goal of number of wins?”

    Lucchino had that answer at the ready.

    “We always kind of get fixated on 95. That’s a nice round number that we like and we achieved last year, of course,” Lucchino said.

    By that standard, they’ve done pretty darn well. Only in 2006, when they won 83 games and missed the playoffs, and 2002, the first year of the Henry-Werner-Lucchino team, did they win fewer than 95 games. Not coincidentally, those were also the only two years the Sox missed the playoffs under this ownership group.

    In the last 12 years, the Red Sox have reached the post-season 8 times. However, only one time in the last 12 years have the Red Sox reached the post-season as a result of winning their division.

    In total, the Boston Red Sox have been the “wildcard” team in the post-season seven times. The Colorado Rockies have been a wildcard three times – as have the Yankees. No other team in baseball has ever been the wildcard three or more times. In fact, no American League team, outside of New York and Boston, has been the wildcard more than once since the berth was born.

    It’s not a reach to say that “the wildcard” has been the Red Sox favorite toy. And, without baseball going to the six-division alignment, the Red Sox’ “goal” would have not been met outside of one year (2007).

    Former Red Sox CEO John Harrington was the chairman of the schedule format committee back in 1993 who championed the six-division format. Perhaps John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino should thank Harrington for setting up things in a manner that would make meeting their goals a lot easier?

    Comments on Bosox: Our Yardstick Differs From Yankees

    1. Rich
      February 25th, 2010 | 12:19 am

      I think it’s a distinction without a difference. We are really only talking about a few marginal wins over which no one has any real control.

    2. jay
      February 25th, 2010 | 10:01 am

      When I read that quote from Henry, I immediately thought that Epstein had sold him on something that’s emphasized in Moneyball: your run differential will get you wins over the season, but it’s more of a crapshoot in the playoffs. So from that, you just try to make the playoffs and then roll the dice. Now, it’s become a little more advanced in recent years, where some studies have shown (and I think they’ve been mentioned here) that there are high correlations between postseason success and starting pitching, defense, and offenses that don’t strike out a lot.

      The interesting thing to me when you consider this is, is it smart to use your teams resources (money and prospects) to build a team that can win the division (ie having the highest run differential) or a team that can likely make the playoffs (which 95 wins will almost guarantee) and then be built for a World Series run because of pitching and defense. I’d argue that Boston has latched onto to the latter and it’s been a good strategy for them.

    3. MJ Recanati
      February 25th, 2010 | 10:30 am

      @ jay:
      Boston is definitely in the latter camp today but it would be hard to argue that the early part of their success in the Werner-Lucchino-Epstein era embraced those ideals. Mueller-Millar-Ramirez-Bellhorn weren’t exactly defensive stalwarts, were they?

    4. jay
      February 25th, 2010 | 10:40 am

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      @ jay:
      Boston is definitely in the latter camp today but it would be hard to argue that the early part of their success in the Werner-Lucchino-Epstein era embraced those ideals. Mueller-Millar-Ramirez-Bellhorn weren’t exactly defensive stalwarts, were they?

      Maybe they weren’t solid defensively, but those teams had solid starting and relief pitching.

    5. MJ Recanati
      February 25th, 2010 | 10:55 am

      jay wrote:

      Maybe they weren’t solid defensively, but those teams had solid starting and relief pitching.

      Boston Red Sox ERA+ 2002-2006:

      2002: 121
      2003: 104
      2004: 116
      2005: 96
      2006: 98

      Looks like when Pedro’s career in Boston ended, so did their pitching.

    6. Corey Italiano
      February 25th, 2010 | 11:06 am

      It’s not a reach to say that “the wildcard” has been the Red Sox favorite toy. And, without baseball going to the six-division alignment, the Red Sox’ “goal” would have not been met outside of one year (2007).
      =========
      6 Divisions? I don’t think I’ve ever heard this layout, can ya elaborate?

    7. clintfsu813
      February 25th, 2010 | 11:19 am

      @ Corey Italiano:
      I guess he means the NL East, Central West..same 3 with AL.

    8. Corey Italiano
      February 25th, 2010 | 11:21 am

      clintfsu813 wrote:

      @ Corey Italiano:
      I guess he means the NL East, Central West..same 3 with AL.

      Oh, duh. My bad, brain fart there ;).

    9. clintfsu813
      February 25th, 2010 | 11:23 am

      @ Corey Italiano:
      Its all good. For a sec I thought you would reply that you were being sarcastic, lol.

    10. Corey Italiano
      February 25th, 2010 | 11:26 am

      @ clintfsu813:
      haha, nah I just read the sentence wrong.

    11. jay
      February 25th, 2010 | 11:28 am

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      jay wrote:
      Maybe they weren’t solid defensively, but those teams had solid starting and relief pitching.
      Boston Red Sox ERA+ 2002-2006:
      2002: 121
      2003: 104
      2004: 116
      2005: 96
      2006: 98
      Looks like when Pedro’s career in Boston ended, so did their pitching.

      Yeah – didn’t you say that the early part of their success in the W-L-E era? That’s what I was referring to.. so 02-04 certainly fits.

      Also, ERA+ for the team for the year is a bit misleading. Not all of the guys who contribute to the ERA+ get to pitch in the post season. Maybe a better way to look at it would be the top 3 starters.. so let’s look at ERA+.

      02: Lowe (177), Pedro (202), Burkett (101) – won 93 games but didn’t get the WC
      03: Lowe (104), Wakefield (114), Pedro (210) – lost in ALCS game 7
      04: Schilling (150), Pedro(125), Arroyo (121) – won WS
      05: Wakefield (109), Arroyo(100), Clement (99), Wells (102) – swept in the ALDS
      06: Schilling (120), Wakefield (103), Lester (100), Beckett (95) – won 86 games, didn’t make the playoffs
      07: Beckett (145), Schilling (122), Lester (104), Matsuzaka (108) – swept WS
      08: Matsuzaka (159), Lester (144), Beckett (115), Wakefield (112) – lost in ALCS game 7
      09: Lester (138), Beckett (122), Buchholz (111), Wakefield (102) – swept in ALDS

      Obviously it’s a small snapshot, but it looks like when these teams made it to the postseason 2 studs and a quality 3rd guy, or even 3 studs, they either won the WS or came damn close.

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