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Is the 2011 squad the best Red Sox team (on paper)?

The following study looks at projected wins using www.baseball-reference.com WAR values for Red Sox clubs from 2000 to 2011 (I'm planning on adding more years later). For each year I did the following

I used the 25-man opening day roster. I then projected wins for that roster based upon historical WAR: For each player I used the average of their last three full or half seasons. Lost seasons due to injury were not included and rookies got a 1.0 WAR for any unplayed season for position players and starters and 0.5 WAR for any relievers. I was trying to come to a "projected WAR" for that player for that season using past recent performance.

Using a replacement level 50 wins, I then could project Wins for that team and of course compare those wins to the actual outcome from 2000-2010. Using the average difference after removing outliers I could then project the 2011 club.  

Stats and Comments below the jump

-BZ

Seasons 2000-2005

Pos 2000 WAR 2001 WAR 2002 WAR 2003 WAR 2004 WAR 2005 WAR
C Varitek 2.0 Hatteburg 1.3 Varitek 1.5 Varitek 1.6 Varitek 2.3 Varitek 3.2
1B Stanley 1.2 Daubach 1.0 Clark 1.5 Millar 2.3 Millar 1.9 Millar 1.6
2B Offerman 2.8 Offerman 2.5 Sanchez 3.0 Walker 1.0 Bellhorn 1.8 Bellhorn 2.3
3B Valentin 3.1 Hillenbrand 1.0 Hillenbrand 1.0 Mueller 1.6 Mueller 2.2 Mueller 2.6
SS Garciaparra 6.6 Grebeck 0.5 Garciaparra 7.0 Garciaparra 6.3 Reese 0.0 Renteria 4.4
LF O'Leary 1.7 O'Leary 1.7 Ramirez 5.7 Ramirez 5.1 Ramirez 5.2 Ramirez 4.9
CF Everett 3.3 Everett 4.6 Damon 4.7 Damon 4.7 Damon 2.7 Damon 3.2
RF Nixon 2.0 Nixon 2.7 Nixon 2.9 Nixon 2.8 Kapler 0.5 Payton 2.0
DH Daubach 1.8 Ramirez 5.7 Offerman 1.3 Giambi 1.2 Ortiz 1.4 Ortiz 2.8
B1 Gaetti 1.2 Varitek 1.1 Henderson 1.0 Hillenbrand 1.9 Crespo -0.4 Nixon 2.6
B2 Lewis 1.4 Lewis 1.1 Mirabelli 1.1 Jackson 1.4 Burks 2.5 McCarty -0.1
B3 Alexander 0.0 Stynes 0.9 Baerga 0.1 Ortiz 0.6 Daubach 1.4 Vazquez 0.3
B4 Hatteburg 1.0 Lansing -0.6 Merloni 0.0 Mirabelli 1.0 McCarty -0.1 Mirabelli 0.4
B5 Frye 0.9 Bichette -0.5 Daubach 1.1 Merloni 0.5 Mirabelli 0.7    
    29.0   23.0   31.9   32.0   22.1   30.2
SP Martinez, P 7.7 Martinez, P. 8.3 Martinez, P 7.6 Martinez, P 6.8 Martinez, P 5.9 Wells 3.5
SP Martinez, R 2.0 Nomo 1.7 Lowe 3.2 Wakefield 2.2 Schilling 6.2 Clement 3.2
SP Fassero 2.1 Castillo 0.7 Castillo 1.3 Lowe 4.2 Lowe 3.8 Wakefield 2.6
SP Schourek 0.0 Ohka 0.9 Wakefield 0.9 Fossum 0.5 Wakefield 3.2 Arroyo 1.4
SP Rose 0.7 Crawford 0.5 Burkett 1.9 Burkett 1.8 Arroyo 0.3 Miller 2.6
    12.5   12.1   14.9   15.5   19.4   13.3
RP Lowe 2.0 Lowe 2.6 Urbina 1.0 Mendoza 1.5 Timlin 0.8 Myers 0.4
RP Wasdin 0.5 Garces 1.2 Garces 1.3 Embree 0.1 Embree 0.4 Neal 0.0
RP Wakefield 1.1 Beck 0.9 Fossum 0.3 Fox 0.9 Williamson 1.0 Embree 0.6
RP Florie 0.3 Schourek 0.5 Arrojo 1.2 Timlin 0.5 Foulke 3.1 Timlin 1.2
RP Cormier 0.4 Arrojo 1.2 Oliver 0.9 Howry 0.9 Jones 0.1 Mantei 0.4
RP Garces 0.6 Wakefield 0.5 Banks 0.2 Lyon 0.4 Malaska 0.2 Halama 0.6
RP                     Foulke 3.0
    4.9   6.9   4.9   4.3   5.6   6.2
  TOTAL 46.4 TOTAL 42.0 TOTAL 51.7 TOTAL 51.8 TOTAL 47.1 TOTAL 49.7
  PROJ 96.0 PROJ 92.0 PROJ 101.7 PROJ 101.8 PROJ 97.1 PROJ 99.7
  ACT 85.0 ACT 82.0 ACT 93.0 ACT 95.0 ACT 98.0 ACT 95.0
  DIFF 11.0 DIFF 10.0 DIFF 8.7 DIFF 6.8 DIFF -0.9 DIFF 4.7

 

Comments

2000: The 2000 squad underachieved by 11 wins. They boasted the all-world Pedro Martinez, but after him the rotation was very shaky - relying on such wunderkinds as Jeff Fassero, Pete Schourek and Pedro's brother Ramon Martinez. The offense featured 6.6 WAR Garciaparra and solid players such as John Valentin, Carl Everett and Trot Nixon, but was not dominant by any means.

2001: The 2001 Squad came in with the lowest WAR projection of any of the 12 squads and they underperformed that projection by 10 wins. The team had the 2nd worst projected offense, largely due to the loss of Garciaparra to injury. Craig Grebeck and Mike Lansing offered only replacement level value at SS. Again behind Pedro the rotation was a crapshot relying on Hideo Nomo, veteran Frank Castillo and starting youngsters Tomo Ohka and Paxton Crawford

2002: The 2002 squad was projected for 102 wins and missed by 9. The offense broke the 30 mark on the backs of a return by Nomar and the signing of FA Manny Ramirez. Johnny Damon was also brought on board to offer a spark at the top of the order. The rotation improved as well with the move of Derek Lowe to team with Pedro and the singing of veteran John Burkett. The only weak part of the 2002 squad looked to the the bullpen led by newcomer Ugueth Urbina.

2003:  The 2003 squad like the 2002 squad was projected at 102 wins, coming closer with 95 - only 7 off. Rammirez, Nomar and Damon led a strong offense while the rotation gets better with Lowe improving and Wakefield also stepping in to help. The drawback is a pen that came in a second worst of the 12 with a bunch of retreads in Ramiro Mednoza, Chad Fox, Bobby Howry and Brandon Lyon and no real closer.

2004: The 2004 squad was projected at 97 wins and won 98 on route to the Sox first WS victory in 86 seasons. This squad was one of only 2 to best their proejcted wins (oddly both won the World Series). What makes things really interesting is the 2004 offense was projected worst among the 12 squads at only 22.1 WAR. Again there was a hole at SS due to an injury to Nomar, filled by replacement level Pokey Reese. Aside of Ramirez, the rest of the offense was filled with 2-1 WAR types (Varitek, Millar, Damon, Muller). The rotation pulls the weight for this squad, coming in as the 1st ranked rotation of the 12 at 19.4 WAR. Curt Schilling was acquired from Arizona giving the Sox two aces and they were followed by Lowe, Wakefield and youngster Bronson Arroyo. The pen got a jolt from the acquisition of closer Keith Foulke

2005: The 2005 squad was projected right at 100 wins and managed 95. Newcomers Edgar Renteria, Jay Payton, David Wells and Matt Clements offered hope that 2004 could be repeated, but there was no more Pedro and Schilling also started out hurt (then came back in the pen). David Ortiz who came over from the Twins started to look like a force and Mike Timlin teamed with Foulke to give the pen a decent look.

Seasons 2006-2011

2006 WAR 2007 WAR 2008 WAR 2009 WAR 2010 WAR 2011 WAR
Varitek 3.8 Varitek 3.0 Varitek 2.7 Varitek 1.4 Martinez 3.3 Saltalamacchia 0.3
Youkilis 2.2 Youkilis 2.2 Youkilis 2.9 Youkilis 4.2 Youkilis 5.6 Gonzalez 5.4
Loretta 3.5 Pedroia 1.0 Pedroia 4.3 Pedroia 4.8 Pedroia 4.8 Pedroia 4.6
Lowell 2.7 Lowell 3.2 Lowell 3.3 Lowell 4.0 Beltre 2.4 Youkilis 5.6
Gonzalez 1.0 Lugo 3.1 Lugo 0.4 Lowrie 1.0 Scutaro 3.6 Scutaro 3.9
Ramirez 4.1 Ramirez 3.9 Ramirez 3.0 Bay 1.7 Cameron 3.0 Crawford 3.8
Crisp 2.6 Crisp 2.6 Crisp 3.0 Ellsbury 2.3 Ellsbury 2.8 Ellsbury 2.8
Nixon 2.5 Drew 4.6 Drew 3.0 Drew 3.1 Drew 3.7 Drew 3.6
Ortiz 4.1 Ortiz 5.0 Ortiz 5.5 Ortiz 4.2 Ortiz 2.5 Ortiz 1.6
Snow 1.8 Pena 1.1 Ellsbury 1.1 Baldelli 1.7 Varitek 1.1 Varitek 0.3
Stern 0.0 Mirabelli 0.0 Cora 0.0 Green -0.5 Hermida 1.0 Lowrie 1.8
Cora 0.5 Hinske 0.5 Cash -0.2 Kottaras 0.0 Hall 0.0 Cameron 2.6
Bard 0.3 Cora 0.0 Casey 0.7 Bailey 0.0 Lowell 2.8 McDonald 0.1
Pena 0.3                    
  29.4   30.2   29.7   27.9   36.6   36.4
Schilling 3.8 Beckett 2.3 Beckett 3.2 Beckett 3.3 Beckett 4.1 Lester 5.4
Wakefield 2.8 Schilling 3.8 Lester 1.9 Lester 2.5 Lester 3.9 Buchholz 3.6
Beckett 2.8 Matsuzaka 2.0 Matsuzaka 1.9 Matsuzaka 2.9 Lackey 4.3 Beckett 2.2
Clement 2.8 Wakefield 2.1 Wakefield 2.3 Wakefield 1.8 Buchholz 1.3 Lackey 2.8
Tavarez 0.8 Tavarez 0.7 Buchholz 1.0 Penny 2.5 Matsuzaka 2.9 Matsuzaka 2.2
  13.0   10.9   10.3   13.0   16.5   16.2
Papelbon 0.5 Papelbon 2.2 Papelbon 2.9 Masterson 1.4 Papelbon 2.9 Papelbon 2.1
Foulke 2.3 Okajima 0.5 Okajima 1.6 Okajima 1.8 Bard 0.5 Jenks 1.4
Dinardo 0.0 Lopez -0.4 Delcarmen 0.5 Papelbon 3.2 Wakefield 2.0 Bard 1.9
Seanez 0.6 Donnelly 0.7 Corey 0.3 Delcarmen 1.0 Okajima 2.1 Okajima 1.2
Riske 1.5 Piniero 0.1 Timlin 1.5 Ramirez 0.8 Delcarmen 1.0 Wakefield 1.3
Timlin 1.9 Romero 0.3 Lopez 0.0 Saito 2.7 Ramirez 1.0 Wheeler 1.0
    Snyder -0.1 Aardsma 0.0 Lopez 0.7 Atchison 0.0 Atchison 0.0
  6.8   3.3   6.8   11.6   9.5   8.9
TOTAL 49.2 TOTAL 44.4 TOTAL 46.8 TOTAL 52.5 TOTAL 62.6 TOTAL 61.5
PROJ 99.2 PROJ 94.4 PROJ 96.8 PROJ 102.5 PROJ 112.6 PROJ 111.5
ACT 86.0 ACT 96.0 ACT 95.0 ACT 95.0 ACT 89.0 EST 101.5
DIFF 13.2 DIFF -1.6 DIFF 1.8 DIFF 7.5 DIFF 23.6 DIFF 10.0

Comments

2006: The 2006 was the 2nd worst flop of the 12, with the team managing only 86 wins against a projected 99. Young Kevin Youkilis looked to start his career at 1B, while Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett came over from the Marlins to help at 3B and SP. Ortiz looked to continue his surge and Jason VAritek was becoming one of the league's better catchers. Jon Papelbon looked like a good live arm in the pen and David Riske and Rudy Seanez were hard throwers brought in as well. The team's bench might be the worst of all of the 12

2007: The second squad to outperform their projection and - another WS win. The 2007 squad was the 2nd lowiest projected squad of the 12 yet somehow manged to outperform by 2 wins (96 vs. 94). The offense looked very solid with Ramirez, Ortiz and JD Drew who was brought in to play RF. Youngsters Youkilis, Papelbon and the new 2B Dustin Pedroia also offered hope for improvement. Outside of Paps, however, this was the worst bullpen assembled - A no-name from Japan (Okajima), 2 converted starters (Snyder and Pineiro) and soft-tossers Lopez and Donnelly. Daisuke Matsuzaka offered youth and hope in the rotation (as well as revenue from Japanese fans)

2008: The 2008 squad looked very similar to 2007 with a better bullpen and a 97 win projection. The team manged 95 wins and a deep playoff run but could not re-capture the 2007 magic, bowing out to the Rays. Pedroia became a find and another young player - speedster Jacoby Ellsbury looked ready. David Ortiz was busy terrorizing right-handers and Josh Beckett was coming off of a season where he established himself as the new ace of the staff. The bullpen was much more solid behind Paps as Okajima established himself and Timlin bounces back from injury.

2009: The 2009 squad which was built on youth and players from the development system was projected to win 103 games. They managed 95 wins again, a difference of 8. Jon Lester emerges as does Ellsbury to join Papelbon, Youk and Pedroia and Justin Masterson turns some heads as well. Veterans JD Drew and Mike Lowell are coming off solid years and even though Manny was shipped out, slugger Jason Bay is ready to replace. The bullpen earns a top grade of the 12 with the addition of former LA closer Saito to Papelbon, Masterson, Oki, Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez.

2010: This will go down as the year that everything fell apart. The 2010 team comes in as the highest projected team of the 12 with 113 wins, yet injury and poor performance leads to only 89 - a 24 win disparity. You could see why many were so high on the squad prior to the season. Young players entering their primes (Youk, Pedroia, Lester, Ellsbury) coupled with newly acquired Mike Cameron, Marco Scutaro, John Lackey and Adrian Beltre - all 2-4 range players. The rotation is 2nd highest of the twelve and the offense is the highest. The bullpen looks to be very solid with returning Oki, Delcarmen and Ramirez to go with young fireballer Daniel Bard. We all know what happened.

Which beings us to.....

2011:  The 2011 squad looks almost equally as fearsome as the 2010 does. The offense is only slightly behind 36.6 to 36.4 with the acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to replace outgoing Martinez and Beltre. The rotation is also close with a 16.5 to 16.2. Lester gets and bump up as does Buchholz while Lackey and Beckett get knocked down a tick. The pen is on par with 2010's on paper and has harder throwers - Jenks and Bard.

The projection is at 112 wins but to get a truer picture, the average (removing outliers) disparity is at about 8 wins

Your 2011 Red Sox - 104-58        

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