08 January 2010
You can argue that Jason Bay wasn't worthy of a 5-year deal here in Boston, but you can't argue with the fact that he was our best clutch hitter.
In 2009, Bay lead the Red Sox in homers, RBI and OPS with runners in scoring position. Now, he's a New York Met, and the Sox have replaced him with Mike Cameron and his career .788 OPS.
But the issue of clutch performance doesn't end with Bay and Cameron. The Red Sox have restructured their roster to improve on a dismal defensive performance in 2009. In doing so, they've sacrificed offense, and more specifically, offense in key situations. Jason Bay has been replaced with Mike Cameron. Once the Sox make a decision/trade, Mike Lowell will be replaced with Adrian Beltre. Marco Scutaro has stuck his foot in the revolving door at shortstop. And with Mike Hall coming to Boston, it's looking more and more like Jed Lowrie will start the 2010 season in Pawtucket.
Knowing that, below are the clutch OPS stats for the 2009 roster.
Bay and Kevin Youkilis were our best clutch performers and JD Drew, Mike Lowell, and even David Ortiz (thanks to a solid 2nd half) were next in line.
Now here's a look at the clutch OPS stats for the projected 2010 offense:
I've used the past three years worth of info to make sure we get a true representation of the how good the new guys are in key situations. The results aren't good.
Scutaro is an improvement over Gonzalez at the plate, and he's been pretty consistent in the clutch since 2007, but we have to remember that he had a career year at age 34 in 2009.
Mike Cameron actaully had his best "clutch" performance in years with a 0.964/1.042 line in 2009. Those numbers would make him one of the best clutch hitters on this team if he can repeat that performance, but in 2008 he posted a 0.790/.658 line...so I think it's safe to assume that he will be back in the high .800's in 2010.
That's the good news.
Adrian Beltre may have one of the best gloves in the game, but Mike Lowell is a far better hitter in the clutch. And our bench guys aren't exactly world-beaters either with their backs against the wall. Jed Lowrie still has alot to prove, but Mike Hall isn't really an upgrade... especially when you consider the strikeouts.
Cameron, Beltre and Hall all hiT for a lower average than the guys they are replacing and they all hit poorly in the clutch. Not only that, but they all strikeout more often. Add David Ortiz's decreasing OPS and increasing K rate, which was still over .225 in the 2nd half of 2009, and you get a signifgant drop in "clutch OPS" and a heart of the lineup that isn't going to scare anyone.
The new guys may be able to avoid needing to be clutch by holding the opposing team down with solid defense, but this team is positioned to be in a lot of tight games in 2010, and you can win if you don't score.
Bottom Line: We knew this 2010 squad wasn't going to out-hit the Yankees (or even the 2009 Red Sox squad), but these guys aren't just going to hit for a lower team average... they're going to struggle when it matters most.
Buckle up kids... it's going to be a bumpy ride.
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