Me and Julio: the 2nd half drags on the offense (it’s not who you think)

August 22nd, 2007 → 9:50 am @ // 15 Comments

It’s been a curious season…to say the least. While I know I remain in the minority in claiming that thus far this season, Coco has been the team’s MVP — and as far as I’m concerned, it’s really not even that close — there are likely a much higher number of folks who share my sentiment that Hideki “Darkman” Okajima and Mike “Don’t Call it a Comeback” Lowell are the next two most valuable members of the Crimson Hose. (Why Okie and not Paps? Well, Papelbon was expected to dominate; Okie has saved the bullpen time and time again, and more than a few times has enabled JP to be in a position to get that save in the ninth. As for Lowell, well, he’s picked up an oddly anemic offense.)

But the fact that I consider a center fielder who was almost booed out of Boston a linchpin of the team doesn’t begin to describe the oddities we’re witnessing.To show you just how weird, here’s a quick pop quiz:

Who’s been he worst offensive player on the Sox since the All-Star break?

Nope, you guessed wrong.

And wrong again.

And wrong again.

The correct answer? Kevin Youkilis, who’s put up a .210 BA and a .653 OPS. The only other regular player that comes close to this level of ineptitude has been V-Tek, weighing in at .229 and .669. Here’s the rest of the starting nine (post AS-break only):

Papi: .326, .982
Man Ram: .302, .914
Lowell: .345, .901
DP: .338, .830
Julio “Down by the Schoolyard” Lugo: .326, .810
CC Rider: .290, .774
JDD: .271, .735

So what does this mean? Well, for one thing, it might mean that Youk — who’s been striking out and swinging at bad pitches more than I’ve seen in the past — was talking to himself more than Dustin when he warned of the exhausting rigors of a baseball season. (Seriously, can you imagine wind-up Pedroia ever running out of gas?)

It also shows something interesting about the nature of baseball fandom. My purely unscientific poll shows that some large majority of Sox fans view Julio as the biggest drag on the offense, followed by Coco and Drew; in fact, Lugo is handily topping Tek and Drew in a lot of offensive categories — including RBIs — and is only two ribbies behind Youk (61 to 63) even though he’s hit in the 1 or 9 spots 93 percent of the time; Tek, meanwhile, has gotten 81 percent of his ABs in the 7 spot; Youk has had 85 percent of his in the 2 or 5; and Drew has somehow racked up 73 percent in the five hole.

The moral of the story? If you’re gonna suck, do it in the latter half of the season. By that time, your numbers have been seared into folks brains, and your season-long averages won’t ever look truly atrocious. Maybe next year, Julio. Maybe next year.


Post Categories: 2007 Season & Coco Crisp & Hideki Okajima & J.D. Drew & Julio Lugo & Kevin Youkilis & Mike Lowell & Oblique references to Simon and Garfunkel songs

15 Comments → “Me and Julio: the 2nd half drags on the offense (it’s not who you think)”


  1. dcyprian

    10 years ago

    Seth,

    Good post but I think you didn’t even discuss the Red Sox actual MVP this season. Coco is an interesting choice, I can see what you mean, and for a moment I’m tempted to agree, but his bat is simply not consistent enough and his RBI total not overwheleming — He is a very solid player, not an MVP. I’d be extremely tempted to give the award to Dustin “I’m Better than You” Pedroia, Hideki “I’m keeping you out of 3rd place” Okijima, or Josh “Just win” Beckett. But none of these players have made even close to the consistent contributions of arguably baseball’s best hitter…

    Its frustrating that Mr. Ortiz is hurt this season and can’t drive the ball out of the park with regularity, nor has he been able to provide weekly late inning heroics as is his trademark, but the man still has the best OBP in the league (.428) and the 3rd best SLG (.560). Now just imagine would the Sox be without him?

    Reply

  2. Jack

    10 years ago

    Are you talking about the “anemic” offense that is third in the league in runs scored? Or the one that is 2nd in OBP and third in OPS? (all in a league that features a Yankee offense that is close to scoring 1000 runs this year, btw)

    So, by your math the only two offenses not in need of a transfusion are the Tigers and Yankees…right?

    Jack — good point. I should have said inconsistent…

    – Seth

    Reply

  3. Neil

    10 years ago

    Youkilis just looks like he needs a couple of days off, especially judging by the way he seems to have turned into Paul O’Neill after every called third strike.

    I was surprised he wasn’t given a day off on Tuesday in favor of Hinske vs. Sonnanstine, who sports a .341 BAA vs. lefty hitters.

    Reply

  4. LASoxFan

    10 years ago

    Coco Crisp is finally having the year we thought he’d have last year. Everyone knows his D is outstanding, and he’s certainly picked it up with the bat.

    But I’d have to agree with dcyprian and give it to Pedroia his offense has been amazing, his D more than solid, but more importantly he has to deal with every fucking announcer calling him diminutive or, the little guy. I almost threw up watching the Angels series (I had to watch the FSN West feed) the angels announcers took every chance to criticize the sox. When I checked in on the Yankees-Angels game it was, Torre’s great, they play the game the right way, the yankees rule, etc.

    As far as Youk and his numbers being seared from the first half, the argument could be made that he’s earned a reprieve from the fans during this little slide — if you prove you can do something, people generally accept that you’ll turn it around.

    Reply

  5. tinisoli

    10 years ago

    Anyone who’s been watching since the break knows that Youk’s been the worst hitter on the team since then.
    I worry about his stress level. He goes crazy with every strikeout, every pop-up, every weak groundball. He’s a heart attack waiting to happen.

    Reply

  6. Jack

    10 years ago

    Yes, inconsistent is a more accurate choice….although “anemic” makes for better (albeit misleading) copy. Dirtdogs would have used something like “craptacular”. And he has a lot more pageviews than you…so what the hell do I know anyway? Keep up the good work.

    Reply

  7. benschon

    10 years ago

    Youk’s second half dive is almost entirely due to strikeouts. He’s walking at about the same rate as before the All-Star break, but he’s whiffing twice as often. Before the break, strikeout every 7.3 at-bats, after, strikeout every 3.7 at-bats. (I would like to see a break down of how many of those Ks are swinging and how many are looking.)

    Is an big jump in strikeouts really a sign of fatigue? Is it really that fatiguing to play first base and go 0 for 4? I suspect it’s mental. Whatever it is, it’s disturbing.

    Reply

  8. benschon

    10 years ago

    Seth,

    Can you devote a post sometime to why you express hitting stats in the format BA/OPS rather than the becoming-more-common format BA/OBP/SLG? I like the trifecta, since it disaggregates the walks from the home runs. I wonder what you think.

    Youkilis Before All-Star break: .328/.419/.502

    Since All-Star break: .210/.324/.329

    Reply

  9. tinisoli

    10 years ago

    Daisuke’s getting screwed. Is there anyone in the AL with worse run support in the last two months? Goddamn it…
    At times it’s hard to tolerate the rest that the usual starters are enjoying lately. Would be nice to see Manny pinch-hitting for 0-for-4 Varitek in the 9th.

    Reply

  10. redsoxrantsfromchina

    10 years ago

    Great Post. To do list for tomorrow. “send Memo to Tito: Please don’t bat Tek in the top of the 9th with the tying run on base.” However, as Manny was really the only viable option off of the bench for pinch hitting duties–and he has really stuffed that role up during his career–Tito did not have much of a choice, even though Tek has hit .229 since the All-Star Break and was 0-4 and had ended an inning each time he was at bat — with men on base each time no less. MVP for the year in my mind is clearly Mike Lowell. Leads in several offensive categories or is 2nd or 3rd in those areas he does not lead. Although he has an unusual amount of errors this year, he does lead AL 3rd baseman in double plays and is 3rd in assists. Please see more about this at: http://redsoxrantsfromchina.blogspot.com

    Reply

  11. rog

    10 years ago

    I guessed Youk correctly. Why hasn’t he been sat down more often during this slump? And why is he batting so high up in the order (I know he still walks a lot, but Loogie and Crisp probably deserve to be high in the order a lot more than Youk right now). I always thought that Wily Mo was more of a DH/1B but now we’ll never know if steady at bats at 1st would’ve worked.

    Reply

  12. johnw

    10 years ago

    Youkilis has a consistent pattern throughout his major-league career: he’s a fine hitter in the first half, and inadequate in the second. Earlier this year, there was talk that his 2006 falloff was because of foot problems (plantar fasciitis, if I recall correctly). But this year, it’s happening again.

    So there’s a lot of evidence that this isn’t a slump, an injury, or fatigue… it simply, as Bill Belichick would say, is what it is. Unti he proves otherwise, Youkilis is a first-half standout and a second-half burden.

    Add the two halves together, he’s a pretty good #2 hitter, nice OBA no matter what, but his production is marginal for a first baseman.

    Reply

  13. jackmack

    10 years ago

    How about ever since Youk has had his blog? This is where his problem with the bat had started to spiral down-ward. He doesn’t blog much, but maybe he’s stressed out on what to write in his next entry and it’s affecting his swing and decision choice?

    Youk: Shut down the blog and all of your problems will be solved, or you’ll be in Washington w/Wily Mo next year!

    Reply

  14. rln2433

    10 years ago

    I think that Youk’s problem has been that he is asked to be more than he can be. His game is driving up opposing pitch counts and getting on base. When he’s trying to hit fly balls or play the role of a 3-4 or #5 hitter it simply doesn’t work out for him. His swing is a bit big so if he slows down then he’s not going to do much save for pop up the ball or whiff.

    It would also help if he would protect the plate on strike two counts. A ten pitch at bat is still an expensive out for the other team.

    Reply

  15. redsoxrantsfromchina

    10 years ago

    Seth, your post got me to do some more digging. Here is what I found.

    Batting in the 6th slot in the order, where he has had 391 at bats this season, Lowell has a batting average of .304, an OBP of .358 and OPS of .842

    In the 5th spot in the order, Lowell has had 69 at bats and is batting .464 with an OBP of .537 and an OPS of 1.276.

    Please see: http://www.redsoxrantsfromchina.blogspot.com for more discussion on this

    Reply

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