We already know this season, if it gets off the ground in the first place, is going to be unlike any baseball season we’ve ever seen. There are a whole lot of reasons for this, not the least of which being that there will almost certainly be totally empty stands in the background, but the biggest to me is simply the length. There are only going to be 60 games instead of the normal 162, and that is going to lead to some truly wild results. Anyone who watches baseball regularly knows just how much noise is involved in any individual small-sample stretch, and how anything can happen in 60 games.
Seemingly the most-cited example of this has been that the Nationals would not have made the playoffs last season if the season ended after 60 games. They, of course, went on to win the World Series. I also talked about the wildness of small sample sizes with respect to Sandy León and his MVP-caliber run in 2016.
I want to continue focusing on the small sample weirdness over the next couple of days, but focus on the players actually on the Red Sox roster. It is a fool’s errand to try and predict an individual player’s season in a normal, 162-game year. It is downright impossible for a 60-game season. But I was curious just how bad and how good it could get for players. There’s still no definitive answer to this, but we can look to the past to see how good and bad it has been.
So, with that, I looked at all of the regulars on the Red Sox roster, with today being focused on the pitchers, and tried to find their best and worst 60-game stretches of their career. Just like yesterday, I am including players who are both expected to play a significant role on the team if healthy and also have at least a couple years in the majors under their belt. So, that means no Ryan Weber, Josh Taylor and Darwinzon Hernandez, among others.
Good: July 17-September 19, 2019: 13 GS, 81 2⁄3 IP, 2.42 ERA, 83 K, 36 BB, .648 oppOPS
Bad: June 5-August 11, 2016: 11 GS, 58 2⁄3 IP, 5.68 ERA, 50 K, 22 BB, .850 oppOPS
Good: June 26-September 5, 2015: 13 GS, 78 IP, 3.46 ERA, 67 K, 29 BB, .623 oppOPS
Bad: May 1-July 1, 2016: 12 GS, 66 1⁄3 IP, 5.97 ERA, 48 K, 22 BB, .866 oppOPS
Good: July 31- September 1: 12 GS. 79 IP, 3.19 ERA, 56 K, 24 BB. .695 oppOPS
Bad: May 30-August 7, 2019: 12 GS, 64 IP, 6.61 ERA, 50 K, 22 BB, .844 oppOPS
Collin McHugh (as SP)
Good: July 29-October 1, 2017: 11 GS, 58 2⁄3 IP, 3.22 ERA, 58 K, 18 BB, .735 oppOPS
Bad: June 27-September 4, 2016: 13 GS, 68 IP, 5.29 ERA, 70 K, 22 BB, .878 oppOPS
Brandon Workman (as RP)
Good: June 8-August 17, 2019: 27 G, 28 2⁄3 IP, 1.88 ERA, 38 K, 14 BB, .465 oppOPS
Bad: July 23-September 29, 2018: 23 G, 23 2⁄3 IP, 4.18ERA, 19 K, 12 BB, .753 oppOPS
Good: March 29-June 3, 2018: 25 G, 25 2⁄3 IP, 2.10 ERA, 34 K, 12 BB, .459 oppOPS
Bad: June 2-August 5, 2019: 26 G, 21 2⁄3 IP, 7.48 ERA, 39 K, 16 BB, .772 oppOPS
Good: April 4-June 10, 2019: 28 G, 25 1⁄3 IP, 2.13 ERA, 31 K, 11 BB, .601 oppOPS
Bad: July 14-September 21, 2018: 25 G, 18 2⁄3 IP, 5.30 ERA, 22 K. 9 BB, .880 oppOPS
It would make sense for pitchers to have greater variance between their peaks and valleys over smaller sample sizes simply because they play fewer games than position players. This is particularly true of the few relievers who pitched enough to make this exercise. It would also seem to be particularly true of this crop of Red Sox pitchers as there really isn’t a consistent stud in the bunch, though most have pitched like one at one time or another. So, while it’s not likely, there’s some chance everyone puts it together all at once over 60 games. We can dream, can’t we? Between the pitchers here, the average ERAs (not accounting for innings) range from 2.63 on the good end to 5.79 on the bad end. Likewise, the opponents’ OPS’s range from .604 to .835.