Saturday, May 06, 2006

A couple first month thoughts 

What to make of Mike Lowell?
After 27 games, I can't help but be incredibly impressed with what Mike Lowell has been able to accomplish this year. His defense has come as advertised, but his bat has been sooo much more productive than expected. When Theo made the trade for Josh Beckett, the Sox were required to take Mike Lowell, the $9 Million alabtross, for the trade to go through.

One month into the season, Mike Lowell is leading the league with 16 doubles. Will he keep up the .350 batting average? Not likely. Will he remain on pace for 95 doubles? Of course not. Mike Lowell may not have the 30+ homerun power he had in years past, but you can be sure that he will play a Gold Glove-caliber base while getting on base at an above-average clip. One question for the pundits out there -- I thought Mike Lowell didn't have any bat speed?

It's also important to note Lowell's split vs RHP and LHP. Coming into this season, Lowell's ability to hit LHP was his only saving grace, but this year he has shown an incredible ability to hit righties. This bodes well for his future prospects. His numbers vs LHP should rise, so if he can continue to hit righties at an above-average clip, the Sox will have themselves a serious threat. We must temper our excitement however, as the season is only one month old. Below are Lowell's RHP/LHP splits.

Who leads off when Coco returns?
In Coco's absence, Kevin Youkilis has done nothing but get on base. Should he remain in the top spot when Coco returns? Personally, I believe he should, but will Tito do this? I find it hard to believe. Youkilis needs to lead off for two important reasons. 1) His OBP is far superior to Coco's, and 2) Crisp's speed is much more valuable further down the lineup than in front of the Ortiz and Ramirez. With the big boppers coming up, it is safer to play station-to-station. If Coco steals seconds, the opposing team is likely to just walk Ortiz or Ramirez with first base now open.

What I'd like to see is Crisp batting in front of Loretta, preferably lower down in the order. With Loretta putting the ball in play 93% of the time, hit-and-runs could be executed to perfection with Crisp. However, vs LHP, this is difficult, because aside from Crisp and a rebounded-Loretta, there really is no one else to bat in the 2-hole. The lineups I'd like to see are to the left.

However, I think there is about a 5% chance these lineups are actually employed by Terry Francona. Look for Crisp in the top spot with Youkilis batting 2nd. It's not the most effective lineup construction, but it'll get the job done, I suppose.

Also note that the 2006 Sox Sabermetric Stats have been updated through Friday night's game.

1. Crisp & 2. Youk makes some sense if you assume Crisp will get on, steal 2nd, and score when Youk gets a hit. But I'd still rather see Youk stay at the top of the lineup.

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