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How many wins have the Red Sox' injuries cost them?

Aug 31, 2010, 1:30 PM EDT

A lot of people are playing the “what if” game with respect to the Red Sox lately, mostly in terms of “what if they didn’t have all those damn injuries.” Would they be in the thick of the AL East right now instead of hanging by a thread? In the lead? How bad has the injury bug really harmed their status as contenders?

ESPN’s (and Baseball Think Factory’s!) Dan Szymborski figured that rather than just talking it up and down all day like some sports radio goon that he’d try to figure it out.  Over at the WWL today (sorry, Insider only), he does his best to break out the difference in performance between the expected starters and the dudes who have replaced them in 2010.

The verdict: while acknowledging that there’s all kinds of alchemy and magic and unexpected and unintended consequences when imperfect human beings are your variables, Dan figures the replacements have cost the Sox about four wins.  That would have them closer, sure, but not quite as high up the standings as some people in Boston probably believe.

Neat exercise, though, so if you have Insider, by all means, check it out.

  1. Lans Downe - Aug 31, 2010 at 1:47 PM

    That’s nice and all… but a lot of us have moved on to wondering how many wins have Beckett and Lackey cost the Red Sox. Those two starters and the atrocious beginning to the season are the true culprits, I think.

  2. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 31, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    I can’t believe that is true. Considering they haven’t had Ellsbury all season, have lost Pedroia and Youk for the rest of the year, I find it hard to believe they would only be 4 games better. They are 21-21 in 1 run games while last year, they were 22-17, meaning they won more and were involved in A TON less. It is amazing that they have hung in to the point where they are actually the, what, 6th or 7th best record in all of baseball right now. Last year, they were 86-58, and right now they are 74-57. And last year, they didn’t have the Buchholz of this year. I didn’t read the article, because I don’t have insider and can’t read ESPN here at work. But I just think the Red Sox would at least be tied with the Yankers and Rays if they didn’t have all the injuries. I’d say 7-10 more wins.

  3. Ari Collins - Aug 31, 2010 at 2:02 PM

    You also have to take into account that these injuries didn’t just result in lossed playing time, but reduced performance. Which is, of course, harder to objectively quantify and harder to complain about.

  4. GP - Aug 31, 2010 at 2:07 PM

    This is the real problem. The pitching has been terrible. Which is why I’m not totally surprised that the verdict here is only 4 games. The bullpen was so bad I’m sure Tito felt he couldn’t pull a starter until the 8th when he could use Bard. Even then, that meant handing it off to Papelbon who has not been very good this year either.

  5. Kanonen80 - Aug 31, 2010 at 2:16 PM

    Of course the pitching was bad: Boston’s strategy was pitching and defense, and injuries crippled the defense. What is a “pitching and defense” team with their defense decimated by injuries? A weak hitting team with poor pitching.

  6. FrankZappa - Aug 31, 2010 at 2:26 PM

    4? that is ridiculous…i would probably say about 15…

  7. Philip P - Aug 31, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    While an interesting exercise, how about the fact that the teams the Red Sox play have also had to deal with injuries. No one team is ever completely healthy and sure it would suck to lose a #1 starter or 30+ HR guy compered to a utility infielder or back up catcher, the bottom line is that injuries impact every team.

  8. adam - Aug 31, 2010 at 3:17 PM

    The Red Sox have scored the 2nd most runs in the AL, behind only the Yankees. So what was that about weak hitting?

  9. Ari Collins - Aug 31, 2010 at 3:20 PM

    Haha, 15. If not for injuries this would definitely be a 110-win team.
    Or a 110-win troll! (Why do I feed them? WHY.)

  10. Joe - Aug 31, 2010 at 3:25 PM

    I’m not surprised that it’s only four games or so. The guys who have been out the longest – Ellsbury and Cameron – are the guys who you’d expect a lower OPS from. McDonald has an OPS around 780, not that much of a dropoff. And it’s difficult to give too much credit to what Beckett might have done when he’s sucked a lot when he’s been able to pitch.
    For me, the bigger issue is that they don’t have the horses to make up seven games (or even three game, probably), because their two best players are out. Replacing Youkilis with Lowell is an enormous hit.
    GPs point about the bullpen is valid, and the crappy performance there wasn’t injury-related. I think they’ve lost 2-3 games just because Tito was using the starters as their own setup men (Saturday in Tampa, for example).

  11. Md23Rewls - Aug 31, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    How, exactly, do you come about the number fifteen? You’re saying that if the Red Sox had a relatively injury-free campaign this season, they’d have 89 wins at this point? Eight wins more than the Yanks/Rays who currently have the best record in baseball? You’re going to have to explain that logic. I don’t doubt that Boston would be right in the thick of things if they were healthy, but they wouldn’t be running away with the AL East.

  12. yesitsme - Aug 31, 2010 at 4:49 PM

    What is amazing is that the Sox are where they are…..Thier DL would be the starting lineup on most teams.

  13. yesitsme - Aug 31, 2010 at 4:56 PM

    Joe…how right you are……Its been the starter to the 6th or 7th then Bard in the 8th and The Closer in the ninth….Of course with Okejima on the DL and Delcarmen in the doghouse that changes things but Saturday I wondered what Francona was smoking.

  14. Lukehart80 - Aug 31, 2010 at 4:56 PM

    most teams could not afford boston’s DL. but that’s no reason to feel bad for the red sox, that’s reason to feel bad for those other teams.

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