PDA

View Full Version : Reason Sox Struggle With Oakland Revealed?


infohawk
07-10-2005, 12:12 AM
I took a look through some numbers to try and discern exactly why the Sox struggle so much against Oakland. Please note that my conclusions are the result of some trends that seemed to jump out of the numbers at me, so further analysis might either prove or undermine my thesis. At the very least, perhaps this thread can generate some interesting discussion. Maybe the collective intelligence at WSI can "solve" the problems the Sox seem to have with Oakland.

I believe the Sox suffer from a match-up problem, and more specifically, that the primary match-up disadvantage results in a lack of runs scored because of the absence of enough left-handed hitting, especially in the middle of the Sox line-up. The Sox lost by several runs tonight, but I blame that on Ozuna's errors. (I'll also add that today was a perfect example of Crede's value to this team as a defender. He would have been worth at least three or four runs, and perhaps the game.) Regardless, the Sox still only managed to score one run.

First of all, Oakland's pitching splits show an apparent wide differentiation between how Oakland's staff fares against lefties versus righties. Right-handers hit for .227 with an .OBP of .292 against the A's, while left-handers hit .264 with an .OBP of .342. That is a 37 point difference in batting average against and a 50 point difference in .OBP.

Compare that to the Sox differentiation. Right-handers hit for .236 with an .OBP of .293 against the Sox, while left-handers hit .255 with an .OBP of .327. That is a 19 point difference in batting average against and a 34 point difference in .OBP. I use the Sox differentiation because they have one of the top staffs in the league and may make for a useful comparative tool.

Oakland's splits show that their pitching staff is filthy against right-handers. Interestingly, while Zito and company's performance against left-handers is not nearly as good, it isn't horrific. Against left-handed hitters, the A's staff is less effective than the Sox staff, but only by 9 points for batting average against and 15 points for .OBP. What this indicated to me is that the A's success comes principally because of their dominance against right-handed hitters. It would seem to follow that the A's would have great success against predominately right-handed teams (like the Sox), and less success against left-handed line-ups.

To follow-up on this conclusion, I took a look at a couple of the teams that seem to have success against the A's as reflected by Oakland's ERA against. These teams are Toronto and Texas. Again, I don't have the time to take an exhaustive look at every team. I'm just looking for trends. The A's ERA against Toronto is 4.80. Not surprisingly, Toronto has a bevy of players who have good batting averages against the A's. Guess what? Out of the seven players who have a batting average between .278 and .424 against the A's, six are either left-handed (4) or switch-hitters (2).

Oakland's ERA against Texas is 5.93. Again, the Ranger's six best hitters against the A's are hitting between .263 and .385 when they play against Oakland. Three are lefties, two are switch-hitters and one, Soriano, is right-handed.

Finally, take a look at the last two games. The Sox had 9 hits yesterday. Six came from three guys, all lefties. So, out of 34 at-bats, right-handers got 3 hits in 15 at-bats and left-handers got 6 hits in 19 at-bats. Basically, this is 1 hit for every 5 at-bats for righties and 1 hit for every 3.3 at bats for lefties. Tonight was even worse. The Sox had 3 hits over 25 at-bats. Left-handers, represented by Pods and Timo, got 2 hits in only 4 at-bats (note: not plate appearances) while in the remaining 25 at-bats, only one righty (Iguchi) got a hit! You would think our righties would have done better against the left-handed Zito.:?: Like the wider Oakland staff, though, Zito has better success against right-handed batters (by 33 points).

I have to add that A.J. flat-out doesn't hit against Oakland. As a lefty he should have more success, and I can't explain why he doesn't. Pods hasn't done well in the season series, but he picked it up a bit over the past couple of days by getting a couple of hits, walks and steals. My thesis could explain why Timo had a lot of success yesterday (3-4), and why he continued to today with a pinch-hit.

The Sox probably won't see Oakland again after tomorrow, but the ideal line-up (with what we have this year) would probably include Timo, Everett and Gload (and perhaps even Harris).

What do you guys think???

Daver
07-10-2005, 12:17 AM
As a team, they fear white shoes.

slobes
07-10-2005, 12:21 AM
I honestly believe that if there wasn't so much hype about it, the Sox would be able to beat the A's. Instead, the A's feel like they own us and the Sox feel like it's impossible to beat Oakland.

SoxSpeed22
07-10-2005, 12:36 AM
You're to say that all because they can hit and can pitch to righties, they beat us? Our starting lineup is 7 to 2 for RH. We'll see what Gload can do.

spanishwhite
07-10-2005, 02:31 AM
interesting breakdown, maybe you should send it to KW and Crew.

Nothing else works against this irritating team, couldn't hurt to try.

kingpin_rcs
07-10-2005, 02:33 AM
I'm not too worried about this Oakland problem. Remeber 1990? The A's were the MLB juggernaut that year and the Sox were having a breakout year. The A's had a winning record against every AL team except one - the Sox.

The Sox swept the A's in Oakland that year and it prompted pitcher Dave Stewart to say "There are only a few of those guys, Kittle, Calderon mabey, that could hold my jock!" Priceless stuff.

chaerulez
07-10-2005, 07:14 AM
I think it's a mental thing more than anything. They probably press more against the A's now because of all the talk against west coast teams.

Podzilla_40
07-10-2005, 07:31 AM
I think it's because EVERY player on Oakland looks like they've been downing horse tranqs and roids. Seriously, for a team without much power, they all look like lab experiments.

downstairs
07-10-2005, 08:48 AM
Infohawk:

You're probably right. No matter how good of a team you have, there will always be some pesky under-500 team who owns you.

I have to agree with others about the mental thing as well. Once those mis-matches are in place, and they have one horrible series... I think its hard to shake it.

Especially looking at their record (which is only .500 BECAUSE of us!) If this were the Cardinals, I think the Sox would go into every game, even after dropping a few, with a good attitude.

Even I won't watch the A's games all the way through. If they're losing, I just know its going to be weird and ugly. Oh well! At least they're not in our division.

Wait. Hold on. Scratch everything I said. Its the umps fault!

ode to veeck
07-10-2005, 10:34 AM
As a team, they fear white shoes.


LOL!
And if the As grow back those 70s style handlebar mustashes, look out!

delben91
07-10-2005, 10:36 AM
I honestly believe that if there wasn't so much hype about it, the Sox would be able to beat the A's. Instead, the A's feel like they own us and the Sox feel like it's impossible to beat Oakland.

I agree. Self-fulfilling prophecy, no more, no less.

SOXSINCE'70
07-10-2005, 10:44 AM
I think it's because EVERY player on Oakland looks like they've been downing horse tranqs and roids. Seriously, for a team without much power, they all look like lab experiments.

Bobby Kielty's a scary looking guy.Hey,even his own teammate
Barry Zito admitted as much in a player profile in SI earlier
this season.:o:

Jayhawk73
07-10-2005, 01:46 PM
Infohawk:

Well reasoned, well written post, many thanks!

RallyBowl
07-10-2005, 01:57 PM
good job with the numbers, i have suspected these things all along. good post. now email it to ozzie so we can salvage a game out of this series!

Frater Perdurabo
07-10-2005, 04:16 PM
Infohawk:

Your thesis is as good as any I've seen.

While there certainly can be "mental" and "psychological" explanations in a game as complicated as baseball, I tend to think they aren't as credible anymore since so much of the Sox roster has turned over just since last year. Six of the 14 position players (including DH) were not here in 2004. Dye, Pods, Iguchi, A.J., Widger and Ozuna all are new to the team in 2005. Two more were not here in 2003 (Uribe and Timo). So unless Konerko, Everett, Thomas, Rowand, Crede and Harris somehow transmit negative energy into the other eight, I don't find the mental/psychological explanations all that convincing.

Many of us have said for years the Sox need more left-handed pop in the lineup. It's needed not just to beat Oakland, but to give the offense more opportunities to get on base and score against all different kinds of pitchers.

doublem23
07-10-2005, 05:09 PM
Daver's right... It's just one of those "things." Baseball can't be explained in numbers, no matter how much you want it to be so.

JRIG
07-10-2005, 05:20 PM
I've figured it out. Don't tell anyone, but....

Oakland's been a really freaking good team over the past 5 years.

Now that we know the problem, let's work to fix it.

FarWestChicago
07-10-2005, 05:27 PM
I've figured it out. Don't tell anyone, but....

Oakland's been a really freaking good team over the past 5 years.

Now that we know the problem, let's work to fix it.Dude, I know you're a big A's fan, but I have to deal with the World's Worst Trash Talker tomorrow. Can we keep it clean here? Please?

JRIG
07-10-2005, 05:32 PM
Dude, I know you're a big A's fan, but I have to deal with the World's Worst Trash Talker tomorrow. Can we keep it clean here? Please?

Sorry, FWC. Really not trying to start anything. Just saying if a team, any team, is winning 95+ games a season there's a good chance we're gonna have problems with them in those seasons. That's all.

We're in first place with the best record in baseball. I'm thrilled right now.

FarWestChicago
07-10-2005, 05:41 PM
We're in first place with the best record in baseball. I'm thrilled right now.You don't have to face WWTT tomorrow. This guys is worse than a Flubs fan. :o:

Lip Man 1
07-10-2005, 08:11 PM
West:

I feel your pain.

It's happened to me before with Cub fans.

Lip

Ol' No. 2
07-11-2005, 10:28 AM
I took a look through some numbers to try and discern exactly why the Sox struggle so much against Oakland. Please note that my conclusions are the result of some trends that seemed to jump out of the numbers at me, so further analysis might either prove or undermine my thesis. At the very least, perhaps this thread can generate some interesting discussion. Maybe the collective intelligence at WSI can "solve" the problems the Sox seem to have with Oakland.

I believe the Sox suffer from a match-up problem, and more specifically, that the primary match-up disadvantage results in a lack of runs scored because of the absence of enough left-handed hitting, especially in the middle of the Sox line-up. The Sox lost by several runs tonight, but I blame that on Ozuna's errors. (I'll also add that today was a perfect example of Crede's value to this team as a defender. He would have been worth at least three or four runs, and perhaps the game.) Regardless, the Sox still only managed to score one run.

First of all, Oakland's pitching splits show an apparent wide differentiation between how Oakland's staff fares against lefties versus righties. Right-handers hit for .227 with an .OBP of .292 against the A's, while left-handers hit .264 with an .OBP of .342. That is a 37 point difference in batting average against and a 50 point difference in .OBP.

Compare that to the Sox differentiation. Right-handers hit for .236 with an .OBP of .293 against the Sox, while left-handers hit .255 with an .OBP of .327. That is a 19 point difference in batting average against and a 34 point difference in .OBP. I use the Sox differentiation because they have one of the top staffs in the league and may make for a useful comparative tool.

Oakland's splits show that their pitching staff is filthy against right-handers. Interestingly, while Zito and company's performance against left-handers is not nearly as good, it isn't horrific. Against left-handed hitters, the A's staff is less effective than the Sox staff, but only by 9 points for batting average against and 15 points for .OBP. What this indicated to me is that the A's success comes principally because of their dominance against right-handed hitters. It would seem to follow that the A's would have great success against predominately right-handed teams (like the Sox), and less success against left-handed line-ups.

To follow-up on this conclusion, I took a look at a couple of the teams that seem to have success against the A's as reflected by Oakland's ERA against. These teams are Toronto and Texas. Again, I don't have the time to take an exhaustive look at every team. I'm just looking for trends. The A's ERA against Toronto is 4.80. Not surprisingly, Toronto has a bevy of players who have good batting averages against the A's. Guess what? Out of the seven players who have a batting average between .278 and .424 against the A's, six are either left-handed (4) or switch-hitters (2).

Oakland's ERA against Texas is 5.93. Again, the Ranger's six best hitters against the A's are hitting between .263 and .385 when they play against Oakland. Three are lefties, two are switch-hitters and one, Soriano, is right-handed.

Finally, take a look at the last two games. The Sox had 9 hits yesterday. Six came from three guys, all lefties. So, out of 34 at-bats, right-handers got 3 hits in 15 at-bats and left-handers got 6 hits in 19 at-bats. Basically, this is 1 hit for every 5 at-bats for righties and 1 hit for every 3.3 at bats for lefties. Tonight was even worse. The Sox had 3 hits over 25 at-bats. Left-handers, represented by Pods and Timo, got 2 hits in only 4 at-bats (note: not plate appearances) while in the remaining 25 at-bats, only one righty (Iguchi) got a hit! You would think our righties would have done better against the left-handed Zito.:?: Like the wider Oakland staff, though, Zito has better success against right-handed batters (by 33 points).

I have to add that A.J. flat-out doesn't hit against Oakland. As a lefty he should have more success, and I can't explain why he doesn't. Pods hasn't done well in the season series, but he picked it up a bit over the past couple of days by getting a couple of hits, walks and steals. My thesis could explain why Timo had a lot of success yesterday (3-4), and why he continued to today with a pinch-hit.

The Sox probably won't see Oakland again after tomorrow, but the ideal line-up (with what we have this year) would probably include Timo, Everett and Gload (and perhaps even Harris).

What do you guys think???Over a game with, say, 40 AB, a 25 pt differential amounts to one extra hit. I don't think that can explain it.

I'm down with the white shoes theory.

RKMeibalane
07-11-2005, 10:43 AM
The lefty/righty situation has me intrigued. Last night, I started thinking about the Sox teams of the past, and how they differ from this season's team.

1994

C- Ron Karkovice (RHB)
1B- Frank Thomas (RHB)
2B- Joey Cora (SWH)
3B- Robin Ventura (LHB)
SS- Ozzie Guillen (LHB)
LF- Tim Raines (SWH)
CF- Lance Johnson (LHB)
RF- Darrin Jackson (RHB)
DH- Julio Franco (RHB)

2005

C- AJ Pierzynski (LHB)
1B- Paul Konerko (RHB)
2B- Tadahito Iguchi (RHB)
3B- Joe Crede (RHB)
SS- Juan Uribe (RHB)
LF- Scott Podsednik (LHB)
CF- Aaron Rowand (RHB)
RF- Jermaine Dye (RHB)
DH- Frank Thomas (RHB)
*- Carl Everett (SWH)

Baby Fisk
07-11-2005, 10:57 AM
:fobbgod:
"Reinsdorf never told you what happened to your father."

:KW
"He told me enough! He told me YOU killed him."

:fobbgod:
"No, I am your father."

:KW
"No! No! That's not true! That's impossible!"

:fobbgod:
"Search your feelings. You know it to be true."

:KW
"NOOOOOOO!" [*hurls himself down the dugout steps*]

RKMeibalane
07-11-2005, 11:15 AM
:fobbgod:
"Reinsdorf never told you what happened to your father."

:KW
"He told me enough! He told me YOU killed him."

:fobbgod:
"No, I am your father."

:KW
"No! No! That's not true! That's impossible!"

:fobbgod:
"Search your feelings. You know it to be true."

:KW
"NOOOOOOO!" [*hurls himself down the dugout steps*]

:rolling:

Procol Harum
07-11-2005, 12:04 PM
I'm down with the white shoes theory.

:ohno

"It's gotta be the shoes."

ja1022
07-11-2005, 12:08 PM
Damn. And I figured the A's just had a knack for scoring more runs than the Sox.

Iwritecode
07-11-2005, 12:24 PM
Damn. And I figured the A's just had a knack for scoring more runs than the Sox.

I ran the numbers and every single time the Sox lose, that is a contributing factor.

Sxy Mofo
07-11-2005, 12:53 PM
Infohawk:

Your thesis is as good as any I've seen.

While there certainly can be "mental" and "psychological" explanations in a game as complicated as baseball, I tend to think they aren't as credible anymore since so much of the Sox roster has turned over just since last year. Six of the 14 position players (including DH) were not here in 2004. Dye, Pods, Iguchi, A.J., Widger and Ozuna all are new to the team in 2005. Two more were not here in 2003 (Uribe and Timo). So unless Konerko, Everett, Thomas, Rowand, Crede and Harris somehow transmit negative energy into the other eight, I don't find the mental/psychological explanations all that convincing.

Many of us have said for years the Sox need more left-handed pop in the lineup. It's needed not just to beat Oakland, but to give the offense more opportunities to get on base and score against all different kinds of pitchers.

This was a whole interesting analysis, thanks to the thread starter, interesting points.

In response to this "negative energy" thing. I think it's a valid point that these things do transmit. It's like... the minnesota viqueens. No matter which defense players they bring in... their defense will suck. It's ingrained.

soxfan1965
07-11-2005, 10:26 PM
I took a look through some numbers to try and discern exactly why the Sox struggle so much against Oakland. .....
What do you guys think???

I had a hunch that the A's led the league in least strikeouts. I just checked on CNN. They do! They have 421, best in the majors by 31. So the A's batters are not going to help the Sox with their walk count or pitch count. The A's OBP is 8th in the majors. Can the Sox hitters emulate this--getting quality at-bats? Ozuna, for example, swung at the first pitch after Timo's game-tying double to end the innning and the chance to win the game. Oakland pitching is a whole other issue that's been addressed here already. Their GM seems to have a knack for drafting and developing talent until they can't afford it. Look at their 21-year old closer who went the distance--a recent draft pick. Instead of fearing Oakland, are there any adjustments the Sox can make if they face the A's again in the playoffs (it could happen) with their current full strength roster (with a lack of left-handed batters).