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Nuggetpalooza: Stat nuggets on newest Red Sox Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino 12.07.12 at 9:05 am ET
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Mike Napoli, a powerful right-handed catcher/first baseman who hit .227 with 24 home runs and an OPS of .812 for the Rangers in 2012, likely will be penciled in as the main guy at first for the Red Sox in 2013. Here are a few statistics that I found interesting:

* – Red Sox-killer: Among players with at least 100 career plate appearances against the Red Sox, Napoli’s 1.075 OPS against Boston ranks fifth all-time:

1.162 – Nelson Cruz (2007-2012)
1.124 – Babe Ruth (1921-1934)
1.099 – Lou Gehrig (1923-1939)
1.084 – Frank Robinson (1966-1976)
1.075 – Mike Napoli (2006-2012)

Napoli’s at-bats per home run (8.33) and at-bats per RBI (3.79) ranks first and second, respectively, all-time against the Red Sox (same minimum). The only player with a lower RBI rate is Gehrig (3.66).

* – Vs. righties: Despite his “off-year” in 2012 (.227 overall average), Napoli still managed an OPS of .861 in 285 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers, the 9th highest OPS in the AL against righties by a right-handed batter (min. 200 such PA):

1.027 – Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
.999 – Mike Trout, Angels
.985 – Adrian Beltre, Rangers
.942 – Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
.892 – Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays
.877 – Josh Willingham, Twins
.864 – Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics
.861 – Mike Napoli, Rangers

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Nuggetpalooza: Sifting through the ashes of another Red Sox heartbreaker 08.24.12 at 9:29 am ET
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Some things I thought you would like to know from Thursday night’s debacle:

* – The Red Sox bullpen allowed 19 baserunners in 7 1/3 innings on Thursday night, a WHIP of 2.59. That’s their highest/worst WHIP in a single game (min. 7 innings pitched) since 1996 and their highest at Fenway since at least 1990:

3.57 – at Twins, Aug. 10, 1994 (25 BR, 7 IP)
2.73 – at Brewers May 9, 1996 (20 BR, 7 1/3 IP)
2.59 – vs Angels, Aug. 23, 2012 (19 BR, 7 1/3 IP)
2.57 – vs Angels, June 8,1995 (18 BR, 7 IP)
2.43 – vs Rangers,  April 17, 2012 (17 BR, 7 IP)

Notes: The game on Aug. 10, 1994, at Minnesota was the final game the Red Sox played that season as the infamous player strike began the day following their 17-7 loss to the Twins. Four Sox relievers (Scott Bankhead, Chris Howard, Todd Frohwirth, Tony Fossas) each allowed at least four hits and at least three earned runs after starter Chris Nabholz lasted only one inning (plus one batter). …

On May 9, 1996, the Brewers crushed Boston, 17-2, as Aaron Sele allowed six runs and didn’t get out of the first inning. Relievers Jamie Moyer (!), Brent Knackert, Rich Garces and Mike Stanton combined to allow 12 hits and eight walks. …

The April 17 game this season, an 18-3 drubbing at the hands of the Rangers, was highlighted by Mark Melancon‘s outing consisting of four hits, two walks, and three home runs without recording an out.

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Nuggetpalooza: The Red Sox and ‘hyper-clutch’ situations do not mix 08.17.12 at 2:04 pm ET
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If you are following me on Twitter (@nuggetpalooza), you would have seen this nugget during Wednesday night’s loss to the Orioles:

Pedroia ends the 7th with a runner in scoring position (with the Red Sox) down 5-3. The Red Sox are 1-for-26 since April 6 with RISP/two outs in the 7th inning or later when trailing by one or two runs.

That’s my definition of a “hyper-clutch” situation. Two outs, late in the game, your team is losing, and you are, at worst, the tying run. There are no “productive outs” in this situation. Execute, or you are probably going to lose the game.

On Opening Day in Detroit, Ryan Sweeney stepped to the plate with two outs in the 9th inning, Darnell McDonald on second base, the Red Sox trailing, 2-1, and the Tigers’ Jose Valverde on the mound, who was a perfect 49-for-49 in save opportunities in 2011. Sweeney raked a triple into the corner to tie the game (only temporarily as it turned out).

Since Sweeney’s hit, Boston hitters are 1-for-26 in those hyper-clutch situations and 0-for-17 since Dustin Pedroia singled against the Rays on May 26 (the Red Sox trailed 2-1 in that one, too, but Kelly Shoppach did not score on Pedroia’s hit). Surprisingly, the Red Sox have not been the worst team in the majors in those situations this season, thanks to the Angels (through Wednesday):

.000 – Angels (0-for-20)
.074 – Red Sox (2-for-27)
.083 – Rockies (2-for-24)
.087 – Blue Jays (2-for-23) Read the rest of this entry »

Nuggetpalooza: The Red Sox and squandered opportunities 08.15.12 at 8:27 am ET
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When a team puts a runner (or runners) in scoring position with nobody out, they have an opportunity to change the game in that inning. Top priority becomes to get that runner home. The next thought is turning it into a big inning. When innings like those are squandered without scoring, they are recounted in the postgame as major reasons why the game ended up in the loss column.

On Opening Day in Detroit, the Red Sox’ David Ortiz doubled to lead off the 2nd inning in a still-scoreless game. However, Justin Verlander retired the next three batters, Kevin Youkilis, Cody Ross, and Ryan Sweeney, stranding Ortiz and creating the season’s first “squander” (an inning in which a team puts a runner in scoring position with no outs but fails to score). Of course, over the remainder of April, the Red Sox would score in 27-of-36 such innings (75%), averaging 1.89 runs in such innings for the entire month, third best in the majors:

1.96 – Rockies
1.90 – Blue Jays
1.89 – Red Sox
1.79 – Rangers

In May, Boston put a RISP with no outs in 40 different innings and squandered 14 of those opportunities (35%), averaging just 1.15 runs per chance, the fourth WORST mark in the majors that month:

0.95 – Phillies
1.06 – Padres
1.15 – Red Sox
1.16 – Diamondbacks

During the entire month of May, the Red Sox managed to put a runner in scoring position with no outs in the first inning only once (the fewest in the majors) and squandered that opportunity. What’s more, they had 11 such chances in the 7th or 8th innings in May, and managed only eight runs (with six squanders).

The Red Sox surged again in June, squandering just 25% of their chances (scoring 30-of-40 times) and averaging 1.60 runs per opportunity, 7th best in the league as the White Sox (1.81) and Rockies (1.71) led the way. Over a six game interleague stretch from June 19-24, Boston scored in all 10 innings in which they had a RISP and none out.

Then came July.

The Red Sox had 41 RISP and no outs opportunities in July and squandered a whopping 18 of them (44%), including seven in a row over this stretch:

2 – July 8 against the Yankees (7th and 9th innings)
2 – July 13 at the Rays (7th and 9th innings)
2 – July 14 at the Rays (5th and 8th innings)
1 – July 15 at the Rays (4th inning)

From the 5th inning on during July, Boston had 22 such opportunities, but managed a total of just 17 runs (an average of 0.77). Only the Indians (0.63) had a lower such average.

For the season, the Red Sox have had 171 RISP-and-no-outs innings, second most in the league behind (I was surprised too) the San Francisco Giants (177). But Boston has  squandered 33.9% of those chances, the 9th highest squander rate in the league. Here’s another surprise for you: The highest squander rate in the majors this season belongs to the Yankees, while the lowest, by a large margin, belongs to the White Sox:

23.6% – White Sox
28.0% – Mets
28.3% – Rays
28.4% – Angels
28.6% – Blue Jays

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Nuggetpalooza: Three disappointing nuggets on the disappointing Red Sox 08.10.12 at 8:41 am ET
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Noting the Red Sox following their disappointing, 5-3, loss at Cleveland on Thursday night:

* – With Thursday’s 5-3 loss to Cleveland, the Red Sox fell to 7-15 in road trip openers since the start of last season, scoring three runs or fewer in 12 of those games (55%).

* – Since July 1, Jarrod Saltalamacchia has reached two strikes in 62 plate appearances and wound up striking out in a whopping 42 of those, easily the highest such percentage in the majors in that span (min. 50 two-strike plate appearances):

67.7% – Jarrod Saltalamacchia, BOS
64.0% – Bryan LaHair, CHC
59.6% – Brandon Belt, SF

He is also hitting just .034 (2-for-58) in two-strike situations since July 1, the lowest/worst mark in the majors in that span (same minimums). And look who’s fourth-worst:

.034 – Jarrod Saltalamacchia, BOS
.065 – Carlos Pena, TB
.067 – Bryan LaHair, CHC
.083 – Cody Ross, BOS

Prior to this stretch, Saltalamacchia had struck out in 52% of his two-strike plate appearances.

* – On Thursday, the Red Sox went 0-for-1 with two outs and runners in scoring position after the 5th inning (i.e. once they were trailing by two runs). Since the beginning of May, they’ve had just one single in 24 such plate appearances (two outs, RISP, trailing by one or two runs, 6th inning or later), the lowest such average in the AL in that span:

.042 – Red Sox (1-for-24)
.045 – Blue Jays (1-for-22)
.059 – Angels (1-for-17)

Note this: The one hit belongs to Dustin Pedroia (1-for-5), who is the only member of the Red Sox with more than three such plate appearances in that span. It’s also notable that no Red Sox have coaxed a walk in any of those plate appearances.

Note this too: Last season, the Red Sox picked up 16 hits and five walks in those situations, hitting .264.

Nuggetpalooza: Stats from the tough Red Sox’ weekend against the Twins 08.06.12 at 9:06 am ET
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Let’s clear out the notebook from this weekend’s disappointing series against the Twins:

* – The Red Sox have allowed two “go ahead” home runs while one strike from victory (i.e. leading in the game) this season. The other was Alex Avila’s two-run walk off shot given up by Mark Melancon in the 11th inning on April 8 in Detroit. Other than the two allowed by the Red Sox, there have only been two other such homers hit this season in major league baseball. There were no such home runs in the majors during all of last season.

Note this: Joe Mauer’s blast on Saturday was the first such homer this year when the hitter was on the road. Since 1988 (the first year that ball/strike counts were tracked), the Red Sox have now allowed four such home runs at Fenway, the most in the majors. Prior to Saturday, the last was given up by Keith Foulke in 2005.

Note this too: The last Twins player to hit such a dramatic home run was Kirby Puckett, who hit a 3-run walk off shot while down, 6-4, on a 2-2 count against Seattle in 1995.

* – On Sunday, Vicente Padilla became just the fifth Red Sox reliever ever to allow two home runs and not record an out, joining Mark Melancon (April 17), Manny Delcarmen (2009), Rob Murphy (1990), and Calvin Schiraldi (1987).

Note this: The Red Sox became just the ninth team to have two pitchers suffer such outings in the same season. Only one, the 2010 Cubs, have had three such relief outings in one year.

* – Through their first five August games, the Red Sox have allowed an inning of four or more runs in three of them and in 10 different games since the beginning of July. Only Cleveland (with 11) had more games allowing a big inning in that span. During the entire month of June, Boston allowed just one four run inning, tied for the fewest big innings allowed by any team in a single month (Dodgers in May and Giants in July).

* – Boston held Minnesota scoreless in the first inning on Sunday, extending their streak to six games without allowing a first inning run, tying their longest such streak of the season. Only two teams’ longest such streak this season is shorter than Boston’s: Colorado (4) and Minnesota (5).

Note this: Back in 2009, the Dodgers did not allow a first inning run in 30 consecutive games. They gave up one on July 30 and then another one on September 1. Over that entire 162-game season, the Dodgers allowed 54 first inning runs. Boston allowed 54 such runs this season in a 44-game stretch from June 10 through July 30.

* – From July 25 through Sunday, Red Sox relievers allowed eight home runs in 31 innings pitched. Prior to that, they allowed eight home runs in their previous 152 1/3 innings pitched (May 28 through July 24).

* – The Red Sox have now won five of the last six games in which Adrian Gonzalez has hit a home run, dating back to June 24. Prior to that, Boston had lost nine straight in which Gonzalez had homered (from last September 7 through June 8). That’s tied for the longest such streak in the majors since at least 2008.

Note this: In his career (since 2009), Arizona’s Gerardo Parra has homered in 21 different games. The Diamondbacks lost the first game in which he homered, and lost the most recent game in which he homered (June 19). In between, Arizona won all 19 games when Parra went yard.

Nuggetpalooza: Monday’s Red Sox nuggets 07.31.12 at 8:45 am ET
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Five things I noticed Monday:

* – On Monday, both teams scored in the first inning. Again. That’s 10 times it’s happened in Boston’s 25 games in July (and the Red Sox have gone 4-6). In their 402 games from the beginning of the 2010 season through the end of June, both teams scored in the first inning only 39 times, and Boston went 33-6.

Note this: In the last four seasons, no other team has had more than eight such games in any month (September 2011 Orioles, June 2010 Indians).

* – Monday’s victory over Detroit gave the Red Sox three consecutive wins over American League opponents for the first time since May 28, 29, and 30. Against Detroit.

* – Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz allowed a home run to Austin Jackson leading off the top of the first inning last night, the second such homer allowed by Boston this season (and the second in nine days after Toronto’s Brett Lawrie did the trick off Jon Lester on the 22nd).

Note this: It was the third time in his career that Buchholz has allowed a leadoff homer at home, putting him one behind Tim Wakefield for the most all-time by a Red Sox pitcher (since 1950). The all-time MLB leaders (since 1950):

11 – Jamie Moyer
9 – Randy Johnson
9 – Tony Cloninger
9 – Don Sutton
9 – Randy Wolf
9 – Javier Vazquez

Note this too: The team that has best avoided allowing a home run leading off the game is Minnesota, who hasn’t given one up since August 18, 2008. Since that date, Brewers’ pitchers have allowed 16 such home runs.

* – The Red Sox tripled twice on Monday. It was just the fourth multiple-triples game at Fenway for the Red Sox since 2005 (the other three such game, all losses, came last season).

* – Dustin Pedroia drove in three runs in Monday’s win, his first game with 3+ RBI since May 11, snapping a streak of 52 games with two or fewer, the fourth longest of his career. His longest was 112 games from June, 2007 through May, 2008.

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