Let me start this post by asking you a question? Are you familiar with what Confirmation Bias is? Here's Wikipedia's definition:
Confirmation bias (or myside bias) is a tendency for people to prefer information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses, independently of whether they are true.People can reinforce their existing attitudes by selectively collecting new evidence, by interpreting evidence in a biased way, or by selectively recalling information from memory
Ok, now why am I bringing this up? It's because all winter long, the so called experts kept pounding the fanbase with the idea that this team is in a dire need of a "big bat" to "anchor the lineup" and be a "menacing force in the heart of the lineup". Those same called experts kept spinning the idea that the Front Office chose to take the Run Prevention route instead of the Run production route and we should be expecting 2-1 scores all season long.
Although, we kept saying here that the FO was looking for a balanced team at both sides of the plate and that they mastered the art of building a consistent offense (In the last 6 years, the Red Sox O has put FIVE .352 weighted On Base Average (wOBA): Talk about consistency!) and that we shouldn't be worried about that aspect but as soon as the team has hit a rough patch, the uneducated fans started crowding the message boards demanding that Epstein and Co trade for Adrian Gonzalez or Prince Fielder or this team is doomed, why this kind of reaction manifested itself? Because their expectations are met and they inaccurately conclude that they “knew” something was going to happen. There are very few things in life that we know – the rest is different levels of speculation.
Sample size matter and looking at any small sample of data and deciding that it is “real” because it conforms to what you believed before it happened is simply faulty, and underestimates the uncertainty that was involved (or should have been involved) in your original thinking.
With a relatively significant sample size that we have at our disposal, we can have an In depth look at the Sox offense and see what makes it so good.
I will look into the hitting approach of our lineup so we could see if this kind of performance is fluky or is it the result of a solid offensive approach to do that I'll use scouting stats most of the time: This is a data based literally off what Baseball Info Solutions scouts see. There are no fancy calculations and everything is fairly intuitive.
The Red Sox offense ranks 2nd in the Majors with a solid .350 wOBA, They draw walks in bunches (10.1% BB rate) and they hit for power (2nd in the AL in ISO). What makes them this good is their patience and contact skills:
- They have the lowest swing rate in the league: Their Swing% is 41.4%.
- They don't swing at pitches out of the zone: Lowest O-Swing% in the league at 24.8%
- They have the 2nd highest contact rate at 84.7%
To resume, they don't swing at balls, they work counts and they make tons of contact which obviously will lead them to get ahead of opposing pitchers forcing them to throw fastballs and they are pretty good at hitting those! Actually, they are the best hitting fastball offense in the league with a 0.88 runs above average per 100 pitches!
This is some solid, healthy approach that lead me to conclude that they can maintain this elite level of production and even surpass it with better luck on balls in play for instance: We trail the MFY in BABIP although we have a higher LD%, we also trail the Jays in slugging without the hacking approach that they have and will end up by regressing their numbers to the mean.
There's no fluke in what we're witnessing: Let's enjoy it!