Red Sox Spring Training (Don’t Forget Your Calculator)

Being a Red Sox fan used to mean being stereotyped as an angst-ridden, dark-night-of-the-soul type of person. Great literature (and great pulp fiction) was the result of the 86 year gap between World Series championships (1918-2004.)

However, since the hiring of Theo Epstein as General Manager in 2002, the Red Sox have been the most successful franchise in baseball. The Sox are run professionally, their actions reflecting the cutting edge research on baseball performance that has blossomed in the past 10-15 years.

The stereotypical image of the Red Sox fan is now that of the seamhead: a person debating arcane points of esoterica, backed up with mathematical formulas. The victorian author has been replaced by the geek with a pocket protector.

Log onto web sites such as Sons of Sam Horn and you will enter into a world of VORP (value over replacement player), a metric designed to determine the worth of any player over the contributions of a mythical “replacement player” and Equivalent Average (EqA) a metric intended to express the production of hitters in a context independent of park and league effects.

So, the most recent stat tidbit that I’ve been able to pick up:the Great AL Rotation Depth Disparity, recently posted on Sons of Sam Horn.

Using the combination algorithm called PECOTA (the Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm) Eric Van rates the potential starting rotations for all the American League teams. He rates each team on the number of pitchers each team has that match up with the typical stats of an American League starting pitcher.

Most teams do not have five starters that are even average starters. The three best teams in the AL East–Rays, MFY and the Sox–all have at least 7 capable starters, the Sox have the most at 9. It’s gonna be a hell of an interesting division race.

Anyway, since I know I don’t have the math skills to hang with the seamheads, I’ll stick to my new favorite Sox site–Soxaholix. That’s where I heard about this rotation business . . . and even I can understand their site, it’s a cartoon! (and funny as hell.)


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