Red Sox

Nation STATion: April showers us with stats

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Nation STATion: April showers us with stats

By Bill Chuck
Special toCSNNE.com

April was a month that had Red Sox Nation yelling Mayday! Yet on Sunday they were delightfully dancing around the May Pole (not as well known in these parts as the Pesky Pole) after a very satisfying victory. After all was said and done, April was a month that begun and ended with frustration for the Sox and their fans. Thats what made Carl Crawfords ninth inning single yesterday as much a relief as it was a new beginning.

The Red Sox started May 1-0 after having started April 0-6 before they won 11-of-20. But the end result was still a very disappointing 11-15 record, their second straight losing April, since they were 11-12 in 2010.

It didnt really matter where the Sox played, as they were 5-6 at home and 6-9 on the road. The Sox were 3-5-1 in series, 2-2 in series at home, and 2-7 in series openers.

There were many numbers to look at in April but they all revolve around explaining the answers to a couple of questions.

First, how is a team that is 18th overall in team batting average (.243) end up eighth in on-base percentage (.331)? By being second in the majors with 109 walks.

But then, the obvious question is how does a team who is eighth in on-base percentage end up being 22nd in runs scored?

The answer is simple:

The key stat of the month: in April, the Sox hit .212 with runners in scoring position.

The Sox were shut out three times and tossed three shutouts, but were 1-5 in one-run games (although they did win their only extra-inning game). The Sox had no dispiriting walkoff losses but also had no energizing walkoff wins like their May 1 victory.

Scoring was real issue for this team. The Sox scored two runs or less in seven games and lost them all. On the other hand, the Sox scored seven runs or more in three games and won them all. The 2nd inning was the Sox most productive. They scored a total of 19 runs and once put up a five spot, their most productive output of any inning. But then again, in all of April, they only scored six times in the 5th inning. On an individual level, Jacoby Ellsbury led the team by scoring 16 times.

The Sox scored four runs in a game eight times during the month and were 4-4 in those games. The Sox were 6-2 when ahead at the start of the 3rd inning, 9-5 when ahead at the start of the 4th inning, and 10-3 at the start of the 5th. But, the Sox were 2-5 when trailing at the start of the 2nd inning and didnt win any game if they trailed at the start of the 3rd inning.

The Sox were ninth in the league with 22 homers, hitting 12 homers at Fenway and 10 on the road. The Sox hit nine homers off of righties; only the Twins (six) hit fewer. On the other hand, so to speak, the Sox hit 13 homers off lefties only exceeded by the 14 hit by Texas. The Sox were 0-for-29 in grand slam opportunities, but had 10 solo and 10 two-run homers. Mike Cameron had the only multi-homer game when he hit a pair on April 29. One of the oddest stats was that no one who hit number three in the batting order hit a homer.

While were talking homers, Jacoby Ellsbury hit four as many as Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, J.D. Drew combined (they had one each). David Ortiz hit home runs in the first two games of the season and then went 23 games and 78 at bats without another one.

Kevin Youkilis had an odd month all by himself. Youk led the team in homers with five but only hit .218. He also led the team with 21 walks and 26 whiffs. But he also had six singles, six doubles and five homers.

Jed Lowrie had a good month, making an appearance at every infield position, and hitting .368. His .962 OPS was the best on the team. His .429 average on full counts was also the best on the team. He was the only Sox with a two-, three-, and four-hit game and went 1-for-3 as a pinch hitter, while the rest of the Sox pinch hitters were 0-for-8.

But, Lowrie only averaged 3.44 pitches per plate appearances and Carl Crawford only 3.61. On the plus side, Kevin Youkilis averaged 4.55 pitches per plate appearances and J.D. Drew 4.38.

The Sox used 13 different batters in the month and when they were ahead on the count they hit .276, when the pitcher was ahead they hit .200, and on even counts they hit .255. On 3-0 counts, Youk and Lowrie were 1-for-2, J.D. Drew was 2-for-4, Adrian Gonzalez was 1-for-1; the rest of the team was 0-for-11.

Sox righty batters hit .221 with 13 homers and 45 RBI. Sox lefties hit .257 with 9 homers and 59 RBI. Right-handed batters hit .255 going to the opposite field, left-handed batters hit .254 going in the other direction.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out in 29.1 of all his plate appearances, but Marco Scutaro in only five percent of his plate appearances. Only two percent of Marco Scutaro strikes were swinging without contact; Jarrod Saltalamacchia rate was 22 percent.

Carl Crawford had an ugly April hitting just .155. In the fourth month of the year he had four doubles, four infield hits and four stolen bases. The Sox had 14 stolen bases and Dustin Pedroia had the lone steal of third base.

The guy you want at the plate with runners in scoring position and two out has been Adrian Gonzalez who hit .455 with six RBI. J.D. Drew was 0-for-5 and Darnell McDonald was 0-for-4. Gonzalez though only hit one homer and it is indeed an odd month when A-Gons homer and triple totals were the same. His .354 against righties was good for fourth in the AL. Adrian Gonzalez had 21 singles to lead the team and 10 doubles to lead the team. The notoriously slow Gonzalez even stole a base and had the teams only bunt hit. In 26 opportunities, he hit into three double plays as did Kevin Youkilis (24 opportunities), and David Ortiz (21 opportunities). Jarrod Saltalamacchia (13 opportunities), J.D. Drew (10 opportunities), and Jed Lowrie (19 opportunities) each hit into none.

Behind the plate, Jarrod Saltalamacchia was 3-for-23 in steal attempts, Jason Varitek 1-for-8. Jarrod Saltalamacchias catching ERA was 5.55 with a .267 batting average against, Jason Variteks 2.55 with a .201 batting average against. With Salty on the mound pitchers allowed 20 homers and 20 steals, with 'Tek, seven homers and seven steals.

The Sox used 15 different pitchers and they allowed 204 hits on the month, second fewest to the Angels in the AL who allowed 203. Red Sox starting pitchers had no shutouts or complete games and allowed 12 runs in the 26 1st innings. The Sox only allowed six runs in the 3rd inning, but 19 runs in the 4th, their worst inning. Overall the starters were 10-10 with a 3.83 ERA, the relievers were 1-5 and a 5.13 ERA.

Jon Lester led the team with five Quality Starts. John Lackey and Josh Beckett had three each, Dice-K had two, and Clay Buchholz had none. Jon Lester had a club best 2.52 ERA, Josh Becketts was 2.65, but John Lackeys was 5.65. Jon Lester recorded 35 strikeouts, Josh Beckett had 32 while John Lackey (17) and Clay Buchholz (15) had 32 combined. Clay Buchholz allowed 16 walks, Jon Lester 14, Josh Beckett only nine. Jon Lester had a .143 batting average against with runners in scoring position, Josh Becketts was .160, Clay Buchholzs was 174 and Jonathan Papelbon was .182.

Josh Beckett has a 0.853 WHIP but on the other side of the ledger, Bobby Jenks WHIP was 2.160. Clay Buchholz surrendered six homers, the same number he allowed all last season. Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Josh Bard each tossed two wild pitches.

Jonathan Papelbon was 5-for-5 in save opportunities, the only saves on the team. Daniel Bards record was 0-3 but he had five holds and allowed none of his five inherited runners to score. Bobby Jenks had a .500 batting average against with runners in scoring position, Dan Wheelers was .444, and Hideki Okajimas was .400.

Defensively, the Sox only committed 10 errors tied with the Brewers for the fewest in the majors. J.D. Drew had the only outfield assist.

You can see that the Sox need their numbers and their wins to continue to flower in May after a month of frustration demonstrated by runners left on base, homers off starters, relievers who struggled, batters who weakly grounded or popped out and Terry Francona getting thrown out on April 19.

May brings the Angels, Twins, Orioles Tigers, Cubs and White Sox to Fenway. The Sox head to Toronto, the Bronx, Cleveland and Detroit and Nation STATion will be here to cover it all.

Nation Station, Bill Chuck's statistically-basedlook at the Red Sox appears on CSNNE.com each Monday andThursday. Email questions for Bill, or Nation STATion, to Bill@Billy-Ball.com.

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

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MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

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Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

Max Scherzer heard his name and thrust his arms in the air, shouting and smiling big before turning to kiss his wife.

Corey Kluber, on the other hand, gulped once and blinked.

Two aces, two different styles - and now another Cy Young Award for each.

The animated Scherzer of the Washington Nationals coasted to his third Cy Young, winning Wednesday for the second straight year in the National League. He breezed past Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, drawing 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Kluber's win was even more of a runaway. The Cleveland Indians ace took 28 first-place votes, easily outpacing Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox for his second AL Cy Young.

Scherzer yelled "yes!" when his award was announced on MLB Network, a reaction in keeping with his expressive reputation. He showed that intensity often this year, whether he was cursing under his breath like a madman during his delivery or demanding - also with expletives - that manager Dusty Baker leave him in the game.

Just a little different than the pitcher they call "Klubot." Kluber was stoic as ever when announced as the AL winner. He swallowed hard but otherwise didn't react, only showing the hint of a smile moments later when answering questions.

Not that he wasn't thrilled.

"Winning a second one maybe, for me personally, kind of validates the first one," Kluber said.

Scherzer's win moves him into rare company. He's the 10th pitcher with at least three Cy Youngs, and among the other nine, only Kershaw and Roger Clemens aren't in the Hall of Fame.

"That's why I'm drinking a lot of champagne tonight," Scherzer said.

Scherzer earned the NL honor last year with Washington and the 2013 American League prize with Detroit.

"This one is special," he said. "When you start talking about winning three times, I can't even comprehend it at this point."

Scherzer was 16-6 with a career-best 2.51 ERA this year. The 33-year-old righty struck out a league-leading 268 for the NL East champion Nationals, and in an era noted for declining pitcher durability, he eclipsed 200 innings for the fifth straight season. He had to overcome a variety of ailments to get there, and Washington's training staff was high on his thank-you list.

"Everybody had a role in keeping me out on the field," he said. "I'm very thankful for all their hard work."

Kershaw has won three NL Cy Youngs and was the last pitcher to win back-to-back. He was 18-4 with a league-best 2.31 ERA and 202 strikeouts. This is his second runner-up finish. Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals finished third.

Kluber missed a month of the season with back pain and still easily won the AL award over Sale and third-place finisher Luis Severino of the New York Yankees. Kluber led the majors with a 2.25 ERA, and his 18 wins tied for the most in baseball. He added to the Cy Young he won with the Indians in 2014 and is the 19th pitcher to win multiple times.

The 31-year-old Kluber was especially dominant down the stretch, closing out the season by going 11-1 to help Cleveland win the AL Central. He and Minnesota's Ervin Santana tied for the major league lead with five complete games - nobody else had more than two. Kluber also led the majors with 8.0 wins above replacement, per baseball-reference.com.

Kluber and Scherzer both had rough outings in the playoffs. Kluber gave up nine runs over two starts in an AL Division Series against the Yankees, and Scherzer blew a save in the decisive Game 5 of an NL Division Series against the Cubs.

Scherzer said he couldn't even watch the League Championship Series, although he did tune in for the World Series.

"That will eat at me this whole offseason," he said.

Voting for the awards was completed before the postseason began.

The final BBWAA honors will come Thursday when the MVP awards are announced in the AL and NL.

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