Monday, January 30, 2012

Rox Talk - Older Better?

A week ago I tweeted:

"Guess what this is 26, 36, 26, 27, 38, 33, 35, and 38? Age of our opening day lineup! Rox new strategy, out with youth in with experience"

Does experience matter?  With the signing of Scutaro, the blogosphere was abuzz with either what were the Red Sox doing or how was this going to help the Rox.  Run wise adding Scutaro to the mix doesn't do a whole lot as Rox are still are hampered by an unknown quality of just how many runs they might give up with their untested starters.  As to the hole that is second base?  Well we can now pencil in a proven defender which hopefully will prevent a few of those runs by our pitchers.  An interesting study would be does a solid defense aide a young pitching staff or does an older infield commit less errors?  I would think yes as pitchers wouldn't be afraid to be aggressive and get hitters to go after stuff.  To counter this O'Dowd has seemingly gone away from the ground ball pitcher so while he upgrades his infield defense he goes away from that on the mound?  Reminds me of a Robert Frost open, "Two roads diverge in a wood" and O'Dowd decided to take both!

How ever you stack it, I think Scutaro is a great pickup, mostly just for stability purposes.  Tracy has one less worry and the ease of creating a daily lineup should free is mind to create those late inning match ups.     Now back to the age thing.  What does it mean?  Graph below shows the average age for each Rox team since 1993.  The starting lineup wasn't the opening day line up per se but the a line up that was generally used throughout the season (frankly I don't know what algorithm is but for instance 2011 they have Ellis as the second baseman which we can agree on but he only played 70 games while Herrera had 104 games?).  Either way without going too berserk, I figured this was an easy place to start.  Average age is plotted from the left (blue dots) and team winning percentage plotted on right (yellow dots).

As you can see the 2012 projected line up is 3 years older than the average starting lineup over the Rox first 19 years of play (average not shown but is calculated at 29.3 years).  The next closest years are 2004 which was 1.6 years greater than average and 1997 which was 1.7 years greater.  For sentimental reasons the 1997 and 2004 teams consisted of:

2004 Player Age Games
C C. Johnson 32 109
1B T. Helton 30 154
2B A. Miles 27 134
SS R. Clayton 34 146
3B V. Castilla 36 148
LF M. Holliday 24 121
CF P. Wilson 29 58
RF J. Burnitz 35 150

1997 PlayerAgeGames
CK. Manwaring31104
1BA. Galarraga36154
2BE. Young30118
SSW. Weiss33121
3BV. Castilla29159
LFD. Bichette33151
CFQ. McCracken26147
RFL. Walker30153

And more importantly how did these two teams perform?  2004 team won 68 games (average 128 games played by each player) committed 89 errors which was good for 12th in the league and the 1997 team won 83 games (average 138 games played by each player) committed 111 errors and was again 12th in the league.  Let's hope the 2012 team is more like 1997 team which just kind of feels like our team this year versus the patchwork quilt that was the 2004 team...Yikes!

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