Vampire David Ortiz desperately attempts to hide his face from the harsh, burning glow of the afternoon sun. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Assuming that at some point you have either watched NESN or read some article involving the Red Sox this year, you are well aware that they stink during the day. And by stink, I mean a much stronger word that I just wouldn't feel right about putting on the front page of this. Specifically, during day games, they are an absolutely horrendous 9-16; a worse record than any other team in the majors, barring the last-place Diamondbacks' 8-20 mark. It's so bad in fact, that despite being stuck solidly in third place in the AL East right now, they have the best record in the majors during night games.
So why is this? Is it bad pitching? Is it bad offense? The fact is, it is both. The team ERA during day games is a terrible 4.82, compared to 4.12 during night games- the pitching staff has also been unable to fool batters during the day, striking out on 5.9/9 innings, compared to a decent but unexceptional 7.2/9 during the night. For this post, however, I want to focus on offense.
Lets start with trying to figure out the mystery of why a team batting ..278/.354/.473/.827 during the night can only manage a line of .254/.327/.424/.751 during the day.
Follow me into the jump...
To look at this, because there has been so much roster turnaround this year, I decided to look only at the 9 players who have appeared the most in their position (I took the top three outfielders, and then threw in Cameron as well, because he has played practically as many as Hermida) and looked at their stats (thanks, Baseball-Reference.com!). I looked at the splits from this year and then, to see if this is something we could have predicted, looked at career splits.
What I found was interesting. While a few players- Drew, Cameron- had splits close to even, almost every player was significantly worse at hitting during the day.
The very worst offender was Adrian Beltre, who, in his absurd career year, actually has an OPS during the day lower than his career OPS- a very weak .734. His night OPS is nearly 400 points higher, at a ridiculous 1.101. This made me think- remember those silly goggles he started wearing for a few games in ST? Maybe it's time to bring those back? Interestingly, over his career, his OPS during the night is only 18 points higher than the day, and most of that difference is probably attributable to this absurd offensive year.
Next up is David Ortiz, who has hit onlyto the tune of an OPS of .678 during day games while OPSing and impressive .965 at night. Once again, his career numbers are very close and this difference really couldn't have been foreseen. Maybe it's just time for our whole team to invest in new sunglasses.
Darnell McDonald (I ignored his career numbers because, well, this year is most of his career), Kevin Youkilis, Victor Martinez, and Scutaro have all also been significantly worse during the day. Some of these were more predictable than others- Youk, for example, has nearly even night/day career splits, but this year, has an OPS 63 points lower during the day. Scutaro has actually performed better in the day than night over his career, but not this year. Martinez has always been a better hitter at night, but the effect is greatly exaggerated this year.
Only two of the players I looked at have actually had more success during the day-
Pedroia has hit an impressive 1.012 OPS during the day (highest on the team) while OPSing .883 at night. Over his career, again, he HAS been a better hitter during the day, but not quite this much.
Hermida actually hasn't been terrible during the day, sporting an OPS of .768 compared to his atrocious .609 during night games. This was actually completely predictable, as his career day OPS is .149 higher than his career night OPS. Perhaps some sort of odd platoon is in order where he takes the place of either McDonald or Ortiz during day games, depending on whether it's a lefty or righty pitching... OK, that's probably a little too out there of a platoon, but it just might work.
So what did we learn?
1. The Red Sox need to start going to bed earlier. Except Hermida, who appears to be going to bed before the night games start
2. We need Pedroia back to start winning these day games.
3. stop cheaping out on sunglasses.
Overall, it doesn't really look like something that could have been predicted coming into the year. It's probably just some degree of chance which exaggerates some of the players less-impressive offense during the day.