A useful corrective

I know the Globe has problems these days, but if they can find a way to hang on to Adam Kilgore, it would be a good thing. His Extra Bases post today is the first sensible thing I've read about this team since the season started. He's one of few mainstream newspaper reporters to use more advanced metrics, and, as a result, he's able to contextualize the team's early struggles in a way that goes beyond simply looking at the baseball-card numbers, which really aren't that meaningful at this point in the year.

One month – let alone one week, which is what has elapsed in the Red Sox’ season – is an inadequate measure of a team. If the Red Sox were playing an NFL season, they would be about halfway through the third quarter of the first game.


First, there is one indicator that favors a turnaround. The Red Sox have a .250 batting average on balls put in play. (This means that if you take away home runs, sacrifices, and strikeouts, the Red Sox are batting .250.) The .250 mark is worst in the American League and better than only the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies. The league average is .300. That means the Red Sox have run into some good defense, gotten unlucky, or both in relation to the rest of the majors.

The Red Sox have been built for a marathon. By the time June comes and attrition forces other team to wedge guys who should be in Triple A into their starting rotations, the Red Sox will be bulwarked by a fresh John Smoltz. Name another rotation where Clay Buchholz could have the spring he did and not make the roster. That advantage won’t be revealed in the standings for another 40 games or so.

And anyway, seven games is such a ridiculously small sample size to base any kind of conclusion on.

Sure, to some readers, this is not groundbreaking stuff. But for any mainstream beat reporter to be talking like this, it's revolutionary.

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