A fan of the Yankees, Red Sox, and large sample sizes.
RETURN OF THE KINGS
Last year, the Red Sox led the known universe in most of the important offensive categories, including the most important category, runs. Many predicted a return to merely very good this year, and that was before Nomar and Nixon were lost to injuries. Both of those guys are close to returning, and it begs the question, how much will they help the Red Sox offense.
Joe Morgan, a sabrmetric fave, said this in his recent ESPN chat:
No, I don't think they will be lights out when they get back. But it will put them closer to where they were last year. They won't run away from the Yankees. The Yanks offense is just going to get better. The only thing the Yankees have to worry about is their pitching. I wouldn't get too overjoyed when Nomar and Trot come back.
I'm not picking on Joe. I've moved past step 11 on the ladder of baseball competence.* But I disagree with him in this case, and it's a good question to answer. Let's take a look at how the Red Sox will look with Nomar and Nixon back in the lineup.
Using the Marcel the Monkey projection system (I'd link to it, but the old Baseball Primer articles aren't available right now), here are what Nomar Garciaparra, Trot Nixon, Pokey Reese, and Kapler/Daubauch/McCarty were projected to do this year:
Nomar:.298/.345/.509 5.6 AVG/OBP/SLG RC/25
If we figure that each position's RC/25 is 1/9 the total offense (not true since RC/25 doesn't combine linearly), then the switch at both positions yields about .3 runs per game more. Over 162 games, that's an extra 50 runs. Using the estimate of 10 runs/1 win, the Red Sox improve by 5 wins per 162 games. If we prorate that to perhaps 3/5 of a season, the Red Sox will gain 3 wins.
Now, the Red Sox will not run away from the Yankees most likely (how do you run away from a team that good?), but 3 wins is awesome. Personally, I will be overjoyed when Nomar and Trot get back.
Ladder of Baseball Competence
1. Fall in love with Joe Morgan, Rob Dibble, Harold Reynolds, Jim Kaat, and other ex-ballplayers sharing their wisdom.
2. Start reading Jayson Stark and Peter Gammons, who provide lots of news, notes, and useless information.
3. Watch enough baseball to realize that hey, David Eckstein looks outmatched, but he gets the job done.
4. Start reading Rob Neyer, and have daily epiphanies for a week.
5. Start reading Baseball Prospectus, who Rob Neyer occassionally links to.
6. Fall out of love and start bashing Joe Morgan, Rob Dibble, Harold Reynolds, Jim Kaat, and other ex-ballplayers.
7. Fall in love with Baseball Prospectus.
8. Start cheating on BP with other BP, Baseball Primer.
9. Start bashing Rob Neyer.
10. Realize you're more than a two-website guy, and start reading all the baseball blogs.
*11. Stop bashing Rob Neyer, Jayson Stark, Peter Gammons, Joe Morgan, Rob Dibble, Harold Reynolds, Jim Kaat and everybody else, realizing that everyone has their own contributions to the baseball world, and you can pick who you listen to.
12. Start your own blog, and spout off information that other people can make fun of.
13. Write blog entry referencing your own blog, and begin destructive self-referencing cycle.
14. Dunno, haven't gotten there yet.
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