Nation STATion: 81 down, 81 to go

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Nation STATion: 81 down, 81 to go

By Bill Chuck
Special to CSNNE.com

With the victory over the Hapless Astros Friday night, 81 Red Sox games were in the books. Baseball is funny in that while it is precise about its stats, despite the fact that 81 games is the official halfway point in the season, invariably all the games leading up to the All-Star break are usually regarded as the first half.

But here at Nation STATion we are celebrating 81 games with 81 stats so that you have plenty of tools to decide whether to look at the season as half done or half to go. As you try determine whether the Sox glass is half full or half empty, just remember that GM Theo Epstein sets his offseason goals on assembling a team that can win 95 games, the number he sees as enough to make the postseason. The Sox are 47-34, which projects to 94-68 which means that Theo is on target. But (isnt there always a but?), in the Town Meeting we attended at the end of January, when asked how many wins it might take to win the AL East this season Theo said, "It might take more than 95 games to win the division." Right now, it looks like he may be right.

Here are your first 81:

1. The Sox record is 47-34 (.580), which is second best in the AL East, second best in the AL, third best in the majors.

2. The Sox have scored 422 runs, second only to the Yankees who have played 80 games.

3. The Sox have allowed 338 runs, just slightly better than the MLB average of 343. They rank 13th in the majors.

4. The Sox have allowed only 20 unearned runs. The Sox have committed just 41 errors, second in the AL to the Rays who have just 40.

5. Their 1.04 run differential per game is second in the majors, second in AL, second in their division. Ill give you a second to guess whos first. Times up. The Yankees have a 1.49 run differential per game.

6. As a team, the Sox are hitting .274, the best in the majors. The MLB average is .252, so they are better by a lot.

7. Their OPS (On-base Plus Slugging percentage) is .792, second only to the Yankees .793.

8. The Sox have hit 91 homers, the sixth most in the majors.

9. The Sox have allowed only 71 homers, 18 teams have allowed more.

10. We like it when our team draws walks, but not when they permit walks. Sox pitchers have walked too many batters this season giving up 268. The MLB average is 260.

11. The Yankees have drawn 320 walks, the only team with more than Bostons 306. This means the Sox average 3.77 walks a game.

12. The Sox lead the AL with 169 doubles, only the Astros (?!?) have more.

13. The season started off miserably. However, before the month ended, things were looking better. In April, the Sox were 11-15 .423, but still pretty good considering they started 2-10.

14. In April, Adrian Gonzalez had 33 hits and Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Jed Lowrie each had 25.

15. In May, they went 19-10 .655. It really was their best month of the year. Jon Lester picked up four wins and Jonathan Papelbon had two wins and five saves. The team had a seven-game and a five-game winning streak.

16. In May, Adrian Gonzalez had 42 hits and Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz each had 38.

17. June was a strange month. They went 16-9 .640 and had a nine-game winning streak. But after the winning streak, they ended the month 7-8.

18. In June they outscored the opposition 152 to 95, thats over two runs a game.

19. In June, Adrian Gonzalez had 40 hits, Jacoby Ellsbury had 34, and Dustin Pedroia had 32.

20. Weather has wreaked havoc with everyone this season. In 2009 the Sox had four rain-shortened games in which they 2-2. They had none in 2010, but this season they are 1-1 in rain-shortened games.

21. The Sox are 3-2 in extra-inning games.

22. Their longest game this season was a 14-inning win over Oakland on June 4.

23. The average team has played 24 one-run games. The Sox have played 18 and are 9-9.

24. Frame of reference: The Giants are 23-12 in one-run games, the As are 12-18, the Tigers are 7-9, and the Yankees are 9-11.

25. Heres a stat that reflects the strangeness of this season: The Sox are 27-19 (.586) against teams with a .500 or better record, the best record in the AL. On the other hand, they are 20-15 (.571) against below .500 teams, second to the Yanks.

26. More strangeness: The Sox are 22-16 (.578) at home, the 10th best record in the majors. But they are 25-18 (.581) on the road. I guess its good news that the Sox have 43 more games at home to go this season.

27. This is interesting: the three teams with the best road records in the AL are the Rays (26-16), the Yanks (21-13), and the Sox (25-18).

28. The Sox had 400 hits at Fenway and 376 hits on the road.

29. Usually, the Sox have a great record against the NL, but this year they are just 8-8. The Yanks are 12-4 in interleague play this year.

30. The Sox have a 30-23 record against right-hand pitchers this year. Thats good for fifth in the majors and second in the AL to the Yankees (yes, again).

31. They have 533 of their 776 hits against righties.

32. The Sox have a 17-11 record against left-hand pitchers this year. Thats good for fourth in the majors and second in the AL to oh, cmon, the Yankees.

33. The have 243 of their 776 hits against lefties.

34. Lefty Adrian Gonzalez leads the Sox with 33 hits against lefties. Sox heart and soul, Dustin Pedroia has 30 hits and Big Papi (another lefty) has 28 hits.

35. The Sox had 100 hits on the first pitch they saw from a pitcher,

36. The 7th inning is their most productive with 107 hits and 74 runs (theyve only allowed 30 runs). Theyve only scored 35 4th inning runs.

37. The Sox had one 20-hit game, one 19-hit game, two 18-hit games, one 17-hit game, and two 16-hit games.

38. They were held to two hits once and four hits five times.

39. Jacoby Ellsbury in the 60th game against the Yankees, and Marco Scutaro in the 81st game against the Astros, are the two Sox who led off the game with homers.

40. They had 200 hits with runners in scoring position. They had 19 hits with the bases filled.

41. You know how many grand slams the Sox have? Out of 87 opportunities they have hit none, zero, nada.

42. They are hitting .253 with the bases filled, .259 with runners in scoring position, and .261 RISPw 2 outs.

43. Then there is Adrian Gonzalez. The first half Sox and AL MVP is hitting .375 with the bases filled, .386 with runners in scoring position, and .400 RISPw 2 outs.

44. Overall, Gonzo is hitting .349 with 16 homers, 73 RBI and an OPS of .995.

45. Gonzalez is hitting .380 at Fenway and .322 on the road and .374 against righties and .300 against lefties.

46. When the Sox are ahead, A-Gon is hitting .350, when they are behind .327. In wins he has hit .372, but dont blame losses on him because he has hit .316 when the Sox are defeated.

47. In the first three innings of a game he is hitting .402 and has hit .439 on the first pitch he sees each at bat. Hes hitting .345 when he leads off an inning. Stop me, because I could do 81 items on Gonzalez alone.

48. The other key Sox acquisition, Carl Crawford, hasnt fared as well. CC is hitting .243, 51 points below his lifetime average.

49. Terry Francona has sought the perfect spot for him in this lineup and the sixth slot is what has suited him best. Hes hit .344 there.

50. He has repeatedly told people that he is not comfortable as a leadoff batter and batting first this year he has proven not to be a liar as hes hit .094. What is of concern is that should not also pertain to leading off an inning. This season hes only hitting .167 as the first batter up. Lifetime he has hit .286 leading off an inning.

51. Carl Crawford has a .275 OBP, the same as Bill Hall and Juan Uribe, but not as high as Brandon Crawford (no, they are not related) who has a .276 OBP and .202 BA for the Giants.

52. Carl Crawford has been hit by three pitches this season the same number as last year. That doesnt interest me as much as the fact that he has grounded into two double plays, the same number as last year.

53. Of Carl Crawfords 64 hits, three were walkoffs and three were with the bases full.

54. Crawford had three 4-hit games, 13 2-hit games, and 26 games in which he had one hit. Yeah, he had 25 games with no hits (thats 51 games with one hit or less).

55. Crawford was 8-for-12 in stolen bases. He has 55 career steals of third and is still looking for his first with the Sox.

56. Crawford has been so-so in left, but right field has been ugly. Sox right fielders are hitting .219, the worst in the majors. Then again, the Phillies right fielders are only hitting .220, so dont despair too much.

57. Oh my, look at the number! Were up to 57 and we need to talk pitching. Sox pitchers had a 4.35 ERA at home and 3.59 on the road, yet they allowed 28 homers at home and 43 on the road.

58. They walked more batters at home, 137 to 131, and struck out more batters on the road, 295 to 271.

59. Heres a really good pattern: the team ERA in April was 4.24, in May it was 4.01, and in June it was 3.58.

60. In the Sox wins, their team ERA is 2.25, but in their losses its 8.16.

61. Sox starters were 36-23 with a 4.03 ERA and a 1.270 WHIP.

62. Sox relievers were 11-11 with a 3.81 ERA and a 1.267 WHIP.

63. With runners in scoring position, Sox pitchers held the opposition to a .236 batting average. RISPw 2 outs they are even tougher with a .226 BAA.

64. With the bases empty the pitchers batting average against is .238, with the sacks full its .283 (ouch!).

65. The Sox used eight starting pitchers in the first half:

Jon Lester 17 starts
Josh Beckett - 15
Clay Buchholz - 14
John Lackey - 12
Tim Wakefield - 10
Daisuke Matsuzaka - 7
Alfredo Aceves - 4
Andrew Miller - 2

66. Frame of reference: Before you think the Sox were unfairly bit by the injury bug, know that the Rockies used 10 starters and the Yanks and the Rays each used seven starters.

67. Josh Beckett was the best Sox pitcher in the first half, by a lot. Probably more than the Sox would care to admit. He is 6-3 with a 2.20 ERA. His WHIP of 0.929 is enormously better than his 1.535 WHIP last year and a lot better than Jon Lesters 1.242.

68. Becketts WHIP of 0.929 is better than Cole Hamels 0.940 (which leads the NL) and Jered Weavers 0.932 and his league leading 1.97 ERA.

69. Josh Beckett was the only Sox pitcher with a complete game or a shutout. But more than that, in 98 innings he only allowed 60 hits. Thirty-eight hitless innings is the equivalent of over four no-hitters.

70. Jon Lester is 10-4, but with a 3.43 ERA and in 110.1 innings has given up 98 hits, the most on the team.

71. Lester may have given up the most hits, but John Lackey has given up the second most, 82, and they came in just 70 innings. For much of the season for Lackey, WHIP has been more about whiplash as hits were whizzing past him so frequently (it could have also been him turning to shout disdain at his fielders). Among the starters, Lackeys 1.557 WHIP is the worst. So is his 6.81 ERA.

72. Frame of reference: Since 2010, among starters, only Kyle Davies, John Lannan and Javier Vasquez have a worse WHIP than Lackey. The good news is Lackeys WHIP in June was 1.239, which is good for him.

73. Clay Buchholz has a bad back, is on the DL, and the Sox need him back. Hes had a so-so season in that he has already given up more homers than all of last year (10 to nine), has an ERA of 3.48 compared to 2.33 last year, and hasnt gone past 7.1 innings in any start. On the other hand, hes 6-3 and the Sox are 9-5 in his starts.

74. The Sox used 16 relief pitchers in the first half:

Daniel Bard appeared in 37 games
Jonathan Papelbon - 32
Matt Albers - 26
Dan Wheeler - 24
Bobby Jenks - 17
Alfredo Aceves - 16
Tim Wakefield - 9
Rich Hill - 9
Tommy Hottovy- 8
Hideki Okajima- 7
Scott Atchison - 7
Michael Bowden - 6
Franklin Morales - 5
Dennys Reyes - 4
Felix Doubront - 3
Daisuke Matsuzaka - 1

75. Bard got off to a rocky start, but his ERA in 11 June appearances was 0.00. In fact in the 36 appearances since Opening Day, when he surrendered four runs, Bard has pitched 39 innings and given up 18 hits and has an ERA of 1.38 and a BAA of .141.

76. Papelbon is 16-of-17 in save opportunities and is 2-0 on the season in 31.2 innings. Nothing to complain about, yet we still do it. His BAA is .242, his ERA is 3.69, and his WHIP is 1.137.

77. The Mariano frame of reference: Rivera is 21-of-24 in save opportunities and is 1-1 on the season in 32 innings. His BAA is .233, his ERA is 1.69, and his WHIP is 0.969.

78. Four Sox pitchers earned saves: Jonathan Papelbon had 16, Aceves, Daniel Bard, and Scott Atchison had one each.

79. Three Sox pitchers were both relievers and starters:

Alfredo Aceves started four games and relieved in 16.
Tim Wakefield started 10 games and relieved in nine.
Dice-K started seven games and relieved in one.

80. Josh Reddick hitting .450 has been a nice addition. Mike Cameron (.149) was a needed subtraction. If Mike Cameron was still as good a player as he is as good a guy the Sox would have been really happy and Mike would still be with the ballclub. Unfortunately, that wasnt the case and his nine hits, including three homers, are now history. Darnell McDonald (.115) is probably packing his bags.

81. Let me end with my favorite quirky Adrian Gonzalez stat: While Carl Crawford leads the team with four triples (he has 109 in his career), like Jed Lowrie, Gonzo has three triples this season (he now has 11 in his career) good for second most on the team. Of all the batters with at least the 16 homers that Gonzalez has this season, the only one with more triples is Curtis Granderson who has 21 homers and seven triples. Maybe Gonzo doesnt have speed to burn, but he simply finds a way to do it all.

There you have it, 81 stats in honor of the first 81 games of the Adrian Gonzalez era. My apologies to David Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury both of whom are having All-Star seasons and didnt get attention here. Also, stats simply cant measure the emotional role that Dustin Pedroia plays, but we should have included more of him. On the other hand, stats simply cant measure the lack of emotional role that J.D. Drew plays, and at least we didnt include more of him.

Ill tell you what, come All-Star break well put together another list and include many of the stats we have left out.

In the meantime, tell your friends about Nation STATion and remind them that there are only 81 games to go.

Bill Chuck can be reached at walkoffs@gmail.com.

Cardinals pull away late for 7-2 victory over Red Sox

Cardinals pull away late for 7-2 victory over Red Sox

The Cardinals broke open a close game with four runs in the last two innings against Red Sox relief prospect Chandler Shepherd and went on to a 7-2 exhibition victory over Boston yesterday at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.

Red Sox-Cardinals box score

The loss dropped the Sox to 1-3 for the exhibition season.

Boston had jumped on top, 1-0, on an RBI single by Mitch Moreland in the bottom of the first, but St. Louis countered with two runs in the second and one in the third, all against starter Brian Johnson. It remained 3-1 until the Cards touched Shepherd for two runs in the eighth and two in the ninth. The Red Sox added their final run in the bottom of the ninth when catcher Jordan Procyshen, who spent last season at Single-A Salem, hit a sacrifice fly.

Moreland, Xander Bogaerts and Chris Young each had two hits for the Red Sox. who also got scoreless relief from Teddy Stankiewicz, Noe Ramirez, Robby Scott, Kyle Martin and Brandon Workman. It was Bogaerts' last game before leaving to compete for The Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.

The Sox host the Yankees on Tuesday at 1:05 p.m.

Dustin Pedroia taking cues from Tom Brady to extend his career

Dustin Pedroia taking cues from Tom Brady to extend his career

Dustin Pedroia is no stranger to injuries. That's a big reason why he's no longer a stranger to the sometimes peculiar practices of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

In an interview on WEEI's "Bradfo Show," Pedroia told Rob Bradford that he's been taking cues from the five-time Super Bowl-winning QB to help extend his playing career and make his body healthier and more durable.

“I understand what he does and know what he does. I think it’s awesome,” Pedroia told Bradford. “There’s a reason why he’s successful at his age (39), and he looks better now than he did when he first came to the league. You have to be smarter as you get older and learn different styles -- the way to train and the way you take care of your body to be able to perform and stay on the field. It doesn’t matter what sport you’re playing. He’s definitely got that figured out.”

Pedroia, of course, played the entire 2013 World Series-winning season with a torn ligament in his thumb. He's battled through various other lower body and hand injuries over the past few seasons, as well. But in 2016, he had his best season in recent memory, posting his highest OPS since 2011, as WEEI notes.

Part of that is with his own take on the Brady approach -- which focuses more on pliability and resistance training than extensive, heavy weight lifting -- and a healthier overall lifestyle, something Brady is notoriously infamous for having.

"There’s tons of ways to take care of your body. It’s not just get in the weight room and throw weights around,” Pedroia explained. “As you get older, the human body can’t take the pounding if you’re going in there and power lifting. When you’re younger, you can handle some of that. But as you get older, you got to be smarter. Sometimes less is more -- whether that’s weight or reps or whatever. You’ve just got to be smart. And eating wise, that’s a big part of recovery. If you put the right foods in your body, you’ll heal faster if you’re injured or recover faster. It’s like a car, man. Put bad gas in, bro. It’s not going to be the same as good gas.”

He hopes the approach can, at the very least, keep him moving for quite some time.

“I plan on living until I’m 100," he said. "So we’re not even halfway home."