Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, April 13, 2014 at 7:00 AM
You know you’re going to get baseball intensity whenever the Boston Red Sox take on the New York Yankees. And, that’s true just when the front offices are spending money! On the field, the Boston Red Sox are defending World Champions here in the 2014 season…while the New York Yankees are feverishly spending on players and brainpower to catch them from behind.
This week’s edition of Sunday Night Baseball gives us a chance to check in on how things are proceeding early in this new season. The AL East is once again loaded with talent. Though, the five divisional teams (these two plus Tampa Bay, Baltimore, and Toronto) were surprisingly close to .500 entering the weekend. They’re not yet up to peak form. And, you’re REALLY going to see that with the Red Sox as we run through the key stats in Sunday’s matchup.
Let’s start with the offenses. Here’s a look at last year’s production for both of tonight’s teams.
OFFENSE (2013 stats)
Boston: 5.27 runs per game, .349 on-base, .446 slugging
New York: 4.01 runs per game, .307 on-base, .376 slugging
Boston was a juggernaut…popping a whopping 5.27 runs per game on an outmatched American League. They got guys on base consistently, and they drove them around. That’s not surprising given the emphasis on stathead fundamentals this team employs. Boston was a machine. The Yankees were an old broken-down wreck. They couldn’t get guys on base. They had some power, but not enough. It’s very tough to make things work in modern baseball with just four runs per game, particularly in the AL. There’s no secret as to what separated these teams last year.
OFFENSE (2014 so far, thru Friday Night’s action)
Boston: 3.6 runs per game, .329 on-base, .376 slugging
New York: 3.5 runs per game, .330 on-base, .382 slugging
Amazingly, both teams are worse at scoring, and are basically dead even offensively out of the gate! It’s not like the Yankees caught the Red Sox. The Yankees have been better at getting runners on, but not at scoring them. Boston’s just fallen off the map with the bats. There’s obviously plenty of time for the team to work their way into regular season form. It’s taking longer than expected. That’s just not going to get the job done for either team. Luckily, some good news may be on the way in the form of Sunday Night’s pitchers.
SUNDAY’S PITCHERS (2014 so far)
Felix Doubront: 9.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, 6.8 K-Rate
Ivan Nova: 8.68 ERA, 2.25 WHIP, 3.9 K-Rate
The parallels continue! We have equally slumping offenses entering the weekend matched up against rotation pitchers from last year who have been awful out of the gate. Those ERA’s and WHIP’s are just out of this world horrible for quality arms. Nova’s also having trouble with wildness, striking hardly anyone out by major league norms. Just what the doctor ordered for these offenses.
Let’s review last year’s pitching numbers for these guys to get a better sense of true talent levels. Both are obviously going to regress to career standards fairly soon (unless there are unreported injuries).
SUNDAY’S PITCHERS (2013 stats)
Doubront: 4.32 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 7.7 K-Rate
Nova: 3.10 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 7.5 K-Rate
Nova is way off last year’s form so far…though his ERA was better in 2013 than it should have been. Doubront has numbers were poor for a full-year starter. Boston can get away with that because their offense can still outscore what he’s allowing. They’ll run out of patience if he isn’t closer to 4.00 or less this season. Given his poor early start to 2014, their patience may be running out quicker than expected.
Tough spot for handicappers because we have offenses who are worse than they should be, AND pitchers who are worse than they should be. If you throw out this year’s short sample size data, you’re left with the better offense throwing the worse pitcher, and the worse offense throwing the better pitcher. What a headache!
JIM HURLEY will be working very closely with his New York sources to uncover an edge here. He won’t force a play if it’s not there. Sunday features a very busy schedule in both baseball and basketball. There’s no reason to force anything if you don’t have to. You can purchase the final word for Sunday right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office Sunday morning before first pitch at 1-888-777-4155.
This week’s NOTEBOOK schedule
Monday: NBA look at Memphis at Phoenix (or possibly San Antonio/Houston or Miami/Washington)
Tuesday: NBA look at New York at Brooklyn if it matters (otherwise baseball, probably Tribe/Tigers)
Wednesday: NBA look at Dallas at Memphis (or another big game with playoff implications)
Thursday: MLB “contenders” series preview for St. Louis at Washington
Friday: Early look at Saturday’s NBA Playoff openers
Saturday: Early look at Sunday’s NBA Playoff openers
Another big week in sports. Be sure you win BIG MONEY with THE BIGGEST NAME IN SPORTS HANDICAPPING, JIM HURLEY!