Prospective Additions and the BoSox' AL East Title Chances

April 13, 2010 Los Angeles, CA..Arizona's Chris Snyder in action during the Major League Baseball game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The Dodgers defeated the Diamondbacks, 9-5..Josh Thompson/CSM.
There’s no doubt the Sox recent injuries have done a number on the club’s chances of winning the AL East. So we thought it would be interesting to uncover how bleak -- or rosy -- the those chances have become. Prior to the slew of injuries that befell Victor Martinez, Dustin Pedroia, and Jason Varitek, Baseball Prospectus had the Sox at about a 99-win team with an 853-702 scoring differential. That team, with the current standings, would have won the division about 38 percent of the time -- a solid second best to the Yankees' expected title rate of 45 percent. The Devil Rays take the cake about 18 percent of the time while the Blue Jays and Orioles are almost nowhere to be seen. But that was a different team. Injuries have decimated this club and with it, their chances at the division. So, we sought to quantify this question and see just how often the new lineup would win the AL East. We’ll spare you the nitty-gritty details, but the essentials are this: based on the expected run production of the new lineup, we simulated 10,000 “seasons,” the end result being an AL East championship probability. Further, we plugged in some of the club’s rumored trade targets and internal options to measure their effect on the team. Playing time estimates are rough estimates and are subject to change. Production estimates are based on Fangraphs.com’s CHONE projections. Below are the results.
April 13, 2010 Los Angeles, CA..Arizona's Chris Snyder in action during the Major League Baseball game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The Dodgers defeated the Diamondbacks, 9-5..Josh Thompson/CSM.

There’s no doubt the Sox recent injuries have done a number on the club’s chances of winning the AL East. So we thought it would be interesting to uncover how bleak — or rosy — the those chances have become.

Prior to the slew of injuries that befell Victor Martinez, Dustin Pedroia, and Jason Varitek, Baseball Prospectus had the Sox at about a 99-win team with an 853-702 scoring differential. That team, with the current standings, would have won the division about 38 percent of the time — a solid second best to the Yankees’ expected title rate of 45 percent. The Devil Rays take the cake about 18 percent of the time while the Blue Jays and Orioles are almost nowhere to be seen.

But that was a different team. Injuries have decimated this club and with it, their chances at the division. So, we sought to quantify this question and see just how often the new lineup would win the AL East.

We’ll spare you the nitty-gritty details, but the essentials are this: based on the expected run production of the new lineup, we simulated 10,000 “seasons,” the end result being an AL East championship probability.

Further, we plugged in some of the club’s rumored trade targets and internal options to measure their effect on the team. Playing time estimates are rough estimates and are subject to change. Production estimates are based on Fangraphs.com’s CHONE projections. Below are the results.

Current Lineup

Catcher

Kevin Cash, .211/.282/.296 (146.3 PA)

Gustavo Molina, .240/.275/.333 (62.2 PA)

Victor Martinez, .294/.361/.462 (146 PA)

Jason Varitek, .229/.324/.392 (52 PA)

Second Base

Bill Hall, .222/.295/.392 (162 PA)

Eric Patterson, .265/.324/.422 (40.5 PA)

Dustin Pedroia .301/.371/.462 (202.5 PA)

With the replacement brigade taking center stage in this lineup, the team hits for a composite .264/.341/.438 line, though scoring about 35 fewer runs per 162 games. Their winning percentage down to .5895, their AL East title hopes take a considerable hit – falling to 26.5 percent. The Rays are nearly on par with the Red Sox under this scenario, winning the division 21.5 percent of the time, while the Yanks take the title 52.4 percent of the time.

As for the replacements, Kevin Cash’s bat is the one in most dire need of replacement, as his .211/.282/.296 line is very damaging over nearly 150 plate appearances. Inserting a bat along the lines of Pawtucket backstop Mark Wagner (Baseball Prospectus: .222/.309/.444) would give the Sox about 12 more runs of offense, improving the team’s division championship chances by about 8 percent, to 29.7.

Alternate Lineup 1

In: Util Willie Bloomquist

Second Base

Dustin Pedroia, .301/.371/.462 (202.5 PA)

Bill Hall, .222/.295/.392 (101.25 PA)

Willie Bloomquist, .269/.318/.370 (101.25 PA)

Yesterday, MLBTradeRumors.com linked the Red Sox with utilityman Willie Bloomquist – a player possessing a below-average bat who is roughly average at second base. What Bloomquist gains over Patterson in the field, he gives back with the bat. However, given Patterson’s struggles with the bat this season, the move is a veritable upgrade.

Nevertheless, based on CHONE projections of Bloomquist’s and Patterson’s production, there is virtually no difference between the club’s current AL East chances and their new ones. Consider this one a wash.

Alternate Lineup 2

In: C Chris Snyder,

Catcher:

Victor Martinez, .294/.361/.462 (146 PA)

Jason Varitek, .229/.324/.392 (52 PA)

Chris Snyder, .236/.345/.421 (176.3 PA)

Kevin Cash, .211/.282/.296 (32.2 PA)

Snyder’s presence as the club’s starter would constitute a huge upgrade over Cash, giving the Sox about 15 runs in 162 games over the present lineup.

This scenario is a little difficult to project, however, seeing as Snyder would muddy the playing time expectations of V-Mart and Varitek when they return. However, we’ll assume Snyder gets hard-pressed into action while the incumbents are away, then steals some at-bats while Martinez rounds to form.

Bottom line, Snyder picks up the team in a big way and eats up much of the lost production. The Sox win the AL East about 31 percent of the time — approximately a 4.5 percent increase over the Cash-Molina combo.

Alternate Lineup 3

In: 2B Mike Fontenot

Second Base

Dustin Pedroia, .304/.371/.462 (202.5 PA)

Bill Hall, .222/.295/.392 (101.25 PA)

Mike Fontenot, .272/.339/.428 (101.25 PA)

Fontenot was another name linked to the Sox in recent days — and for good reason: Fontenot has recovered from a poor 2009 campaign to post a .297/.346/.419 line thus far in 2010. Though the power hasn’t been there (1 HR in 162 PA), the fact that the second baseman is putting good swings on the ball means the power shouldn’t be far behind.

CHONE likes Fontenot for the remainder of the season, projecting a .272/.339/.428 line, while he has generally been rated a good defensive second baseman throughout his career. Fontenot would be a nice addition — his defense and bat would add about 14 runs over 162 games.

Having a similar value to Snyder, Fontenot would improve the team’s AL East title chances to about 31 percent. As an aside, if Snyder and Fontenot were both added, the team would make up significant ground, improving their chances to about 35 percent.

The indications seem to be clear, that Boston will have to make some kind of addition in order to reestablish themselves as a serious contender for the AL East title. In addition, though not directly measured, these additions could put the Sox in a great position to seize the Wild Card — where they find themselves about on par with Tampa Bay.

** For additional information on the topic, be sure to check out Baseball Prospectus’ Playoff Odds Report and Fangraphs.com’s CHONE projections. Baseball Prospectus’ Team Depth Chart Reports were used to form the baseline of this report.

Categories: Bill Hall Chris Snyder Dustin Pedroia Gustavo Molina Jason Varitek Mark Wagner Victor Martinez

One Response to “Prospective Additions and the BoSox' AL East Title Chances” Subscribe

  1. Doctorogres July 6, 2010 at 11:05 AM #

    Great post. It's informative and well-researched write-ups like this that keep me reading this blog on a daily basis.

    I understand picking up Snyder as a preemptive replacement for Tek, but how would a Fontenot deal go down? Would he just act as Pedey's backup for the rest of the year?