Nation STATion: The mighty zero


Nation STATion: The mighty zero

By Bill Chuck
Special to

Fans love the round numbers. If there is a stat with the mighty zero at the end, people seem inordinately more interested than with, lets say, a six at the end. Dont believe me? Let me give you quick example from last nights bashing of the Royals.

Prior to last night, David Ortiz ranked sixth all-time in RBI in a Red Sox uniform with 996. Of course, nobody really made a big deal about it until after he hit his grand slam (his 10th of his career, obviously more significant than his ninth because of the zero) and the four RBI gave him 1,000 Sox RBI. Now after reaching that milestone, Ortiz ranks sixth all-time in RBI in a Red Sox uniform. Yeah, thats the same ranking as before.

Im fine with the fascination with round numbers; it can always provide good fodder for conversation. The mighty zero is not always a good thing, however. For example, you know how many homers now that Big Papi has hit off of righties since June 14? None. With the homer last night off Bruce Chen, hes had three homers since that date, all off lefties.

Obviously the more zeros at the end of a number, the more interesting it seems to people. While we are talking about RBI, you probably didnt know that Jacoby Ellsbury now has 190-career RBI, but Im pretty confident it will be mentioned when he reaches 200.

I find it more interesting to use a stat as a comparative tool as opposed to merely a milestone collector. I love that Kevin Youkilis has 542 RBI. Why? Because that ties him with Hall of Famer Tris Speaker who spent nine years in a Sox uniform during the dead ball era, 1907-15. And even though the game is so different now, Speaker collected his RBI in 1065 games and Youk has done it in 885 games.

Speaking about games, the Sox (64-38) have now played 102 games this season. The zeroes at the hundred game mark were not significant to most fans because it was just one in a series of 162 games. It had no milestone cache.

But once again I liked it because it gave me an easy frame of reference. Let me show you what I mean. At the hundred game mark, the Red Sox were 62-38, an easily figured out, and very impressive, .620 winning percentage. Thats their best record at the 100-game mark this decade:

Last season, the Sox were 56-44.
In 2009, they were 58-42.
In 2008, they were 57-43.
In 2007, they were 61-39.
In 2006, they were 61-39.
In 2005, they were 55-45.
In 2004, they were 55-45.
In 2003, they were 60-40.
In 2002, they were 59-41.
In 2001, they were 57-43.
In 2000, they were 53-47.

To make Theo Epstein happy, the Sox need to reach his pre-season goal of 95 wins. Thats .586 ball and the Sox are now playing at a .627 rate. But using the mighty zero rule, to make the fans really excited, the Sox need to win 100 games. A record of 100-62 is a winning percentage of .617. The current .627 rate will give the Red Sox about 102 wins, a level not achieved in these parts in many years.

In fact, the Sox have achieved triple figures in wins only three times in their existence: 1912, 1915, and 1946 and finished over the .600 winning percentage mark 12 times.

Here are the Sox best records and where this year ranks:

1912: 105-47-2, .691, World Champ
1946: 104-50-2, .675, AL Champ
1915: 101-50-4, .669, World Champ
1903: 91-47-3, .659, World Champ
2011: 64-38, .627, Lead AL East
1949: 96-58-1, .623
1948: 96-59, .619
1904: 95-59-3, .617, AL Champ
1942: 93-59, .612
1950: 94-60, .610
1978: 99-64, .607
2004: 98-64, .605-2nd of 5 World Champ
1977: 97-64, .602

In the three years that they did win 100 games (with only 54 games remaining on the schedule), heres how they stood at the hundred game mark:

In 1912, they were 68-32.
In 1946, they were 70-28-1.
In 1915, they were 62-35-3.

So for all you zero followers, here are some Sox milestones to look towards:

Tek needs seven hits for 1400
The Muddy Chicken (thats Pedey) needs 10 hits for 800 and six doubles for 200
Jacoby needs 11 doubles for 100
DL Drew needs 67 hits to reach 1500 for his career and eight homers for 250
Marco Scutaro is 43 shy of 1000 hits for his career and needs four doubles for 200
Adrian Gonzalez needs 15 homers to reach the 200 mark

While I minimize the import of most milestones, there is one on the horizon that I know we will all celebrate. Tim Wakefield is one win away from 200 career victories. Wake is one of the really great guys in the game, not as reflected in his 199 wins, but by his Roberto Clemente Award for service to the community. I know, Wake will not reach 300 wins and with 185 Sox wins; Im not sure he will get the eight wins he needs to top Cy Young and Roger Clemens, who each had 192 Red Sox wins making them the winningest pitchers in Sox history, so achieving that next win will be a reason to smile for all of baseball.

Ahh, the power of the mighty zero.

Shaughnessy provides details of Price-Eckersley confrontation

Shaughnessy provides details of Price-Eckersley confrontation

The Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy, citing "six people who witnessed . . . the incident", provided details Sunday of the confrontation between current Red Sox pitcher David Price and Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, now a part-time member of the Sox broadcast team, on a recent team flight from Boston to Toronto.

As earlier reported, Price berated Eckersley over innocuous on-air comments by Eck regarding a rehab start by Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez. From Shaughnessy:

On the day of the episode, Price was standing near the middle of the team aircraft, surrounded by fellow players, waiting for Eckersley. When Eckersley approached, on his way to the back of the plane (Sox broadcasters traditionally sit in the rear of the aircraft), a grandstanding Price stood in front of Eckersley and shouted, “Here he is — the greatest pitcher who ever lived! This game is easy for him!’’

When a stunned Eckersley tried to speak, Price shot back with, “Get the [expletive] out of here!’’

Many players applauded.

Eckersley made his way to the back of the plane as players in the middle of the plane started their card games. In the middle of the short flight, Eckersley got up and walked toward the front where Sox boss Dave Dombrowski was seated. When Eckersley passed through the card-playing section in the middle, Price went at him again, shouting, “Get the [expletive] out of here!’’

When Price was asked about it the next day, he said only, “Some people just don’t understand how hard this game is.’’

Price later said he was merely standing up for his teammates and "[whatever] crap I catch for that, I’m fine with it.’’

Shaughnessy, citing "three people close to Eckersley," reported that neither Price nor manager John Farrell has apologized to Eckersley.

Drellich: The pros and cons of Rafael Devers' promotion

Drellich: The pros and cons of Rafael Devers' promotion

BOSTON — Rafael Devers is here and there’s a bundle of reasons to be excited. There’s reason, too, to be skeptical. 

WATCH: Did Sox make right move? / BASEBALL SHOW PODCAST: On Devers

Here is a look at the potential pros and cons, depending on Devers’ success. We’ll start with the good as the 20-year-old top prospect heads to the big leagues for the first time.


Infusion of energy

In the same way a trade can bring a boost of morale, so too can the promotion of a top prospect. It’s new blood walking through the door, either way. There’s help for a group of hitters — and by extension, pitchers lacking run support — who need to see a lift from the front office. Sox manager John Farrell previously acknowledged the sense of anticipation leading up to the trade deadline. The mood heading into Devers’ first game should be an exciting one.


Virtually anything is better than what the Sox have had offensively at third base. Devers’ minor league hitting has been a spectacle. They wanted to see how he adjusted to Double-A pitching and he did so admirably. He walked into Triple-A and kept raking, with three hits in his final game. The ceiling is very high.

Trade leverage

Theoretically this applies to Devers directly. If the Sox wanted to deal him, he’d be worth more as a big leaguer with some success. But if we believe everything the Sox say, they don’t want to trade him. They’d be crazy to do so. Leverage, then, comes in another form. Those teams that the Sox have talked to about third-base help, or hitting help, in general now get a message from the Sox of “Hey, we don’t need you.” Potentially, any way.

Feet wet for the future

A taste isn’t always a good thing, but it often is. One way or another, the Red Sox have to hope that Devers’ first stint in the big leagues lays the groundwork for the future. Growing pains might be inevitable but in some way, the sooner he can go through them, the better. If he comes off the bench at times, that’ll be a new experience he can have under his belt, although you wouldn’t expect he’ll need that skill too much early in his career.

Prospects saved, or repurposed

It’d still be a stunner if the Sox don’t make a trade at the deadline. It just wouldn’t be the Dombrowski way to stay idle. But Devers’ arrival might allow for a different allocation of resources. Whatever prospects the Sox were willing to put toward a third-base upgrade could go toward another bat, or a reliever or both.



This is the biggest concern. Even if Devers rakes for the first week and thereby convinces the Red Sox they don’t need to trade for a third baseman, what does one week really tell them? A month isn’t really enough, either, but it would have been a lot better. (There is always the possibility of a trade in August.) Devers is still missing what the position has been missing all along — a known quantity. Someone with a major league track record, someone who can provide as much certainty as can reasonably be found.

Public about-face

Promoting Devers to the majors for the purposes of evaluation ahead of the non-waiver trade deadline would have been wiser at the start of July. He was raking after two months at Portland. It’s clear the Sox didn’t intend to move Devers with this kind of speed. They’ve adjusted on the fly, which is necessary sometimes, but Dombrowski said on July 14 — the day Devers was moved to Triple-A — that "I don't want to put it on his back that we're counting on him in a pennant race.” Didn’t take long for that to change.


Devers made four errors in 12 games at Pawtucket and has 16 in 72 games between there and Portland. One scout who has seen Devers doesn’t think he’s ready defensively yet. From there, it’s worth noting the context at this position: how chaotic third base has been for the Sox this season. Basic plays were not made for a time, and that’s how Deven Marrero ended up with a job. A drop off in defense is fine, but repeated errors on routine plays won’t work, particularly at a position where the Sox have already lived those woes.


It’s a natural worry for a 20-year-old kid: if he doesn’t do well, can he handle it mentally? He wouldn’t be in the big leagues if the Sox didn’t think so. At the same time, you run the risk of a slow-down for a player who was chugging right along. Devers is poised to share time for now, which means he may well come off the bench, something he hasn’t had to do.

Loss of leverage

If Devers looks bad for a week — as in, truly overmatched — the Sox aren’t going to have any better position for a trade for an established infielder or bat. If anything, the potential trade partner would gain ground.