Yankees Offense – Overrated! Red Sox Offense – Underrated!

In the year 2003, the Red Sox broke the record for slugging percentage, .491, which beat the .489 SLG of the 1927 Yankees. In 2004, they led Major League Baseball again with a .472 slugging percentage, the Yankees a distant fourth at .458. And yet, there have been many articles about how the “vaunted” Yankees’ offense rank among the best in the game, about how it was supposed to carry them to another World Series title. Gary Sheffield had gone on record saying that the offense had just failed them in the final games of the American League Championship Series and if it hadn’t, they would have won.
Not so fast, Gary. The Red Sox had a better offense than the Yankees this past year.
Let’s compare each Red Sox and Yankees player statistics. What follows is their 2004 batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, Value Over Replacement Player, and Win Shares. VORP is the number of runs contributed beyond what a replacement level player would contribute if given the same percentage of team plate appearances. Win Shares give you how many wins that player contributed to the team. Three win shares equal one win. I am only doing the eight positions, with the player that accumulated the most playing time at said position being counted.
Player, AVG/OBP/SLG – VORP – WS
DESIGNATED HITTER
David Ortiz, .301/.380/.603 – 71.3 – 25
Ruben Sierra, .244/.296/.456 -9.9 – 9
Jason Giambi, .208/.342/.379 – 4.6 – 8
What can I say? David Ortiz is a “baaaaaaad man!” His words.
CATCHER
Jason Varitek, .296/.390/.482 – 46.0 – 17
Jorge Posada, .272/.400/.481 – 48.9 – 20
As you can see, the two are relatively close. That OBP of Posada helps him jump up in VORP and WS, but Varitek had a higher batting average, so he moved runners over a lot more than Posada. Instead of Posada walking and having first and second, Varitek would single to make it first and third. That value is not apparent in statistics but really needs to be made aware of.
FIRST BASE
Kevin Millar, .297/.383/.474 -37.6 – 17
Tony Clark, .221/.297/.458 – 5.7 – 8
John Olerud, .259/.359/.374 – 7.5 – 6
Millar by far, was better than Clark, and John Olerud who was 223.2 defensive innings behind Clark was not enough of an upgrade to matter. So far we have a wash at catcher, and a Sox win at first base.
SECOND BASE
Mark Bellhorn, .264/.373/.444 – 37.6 – 21
Miguel Cairo, .292/.346/.417 – 22.2 – 13
Not even close. 2-0 Red Sox so far.
SHORTSTOP
Pokey Reese, .221/.271/.303 – -7.3 – 3
Orlando Cabrera, .264/.306/.383 – 14.7 – 5
Derek Jeter, .292/.352/.471 – 59.7 – 26
Not even close. Jeter was heads and shoulders better. Oh, and Renteria’s VORP was 27.3, WS 17, so Jeter still beat Renteria, but the gap is a lot smaller, so that should help. 2-1 Red Sox.
THIRD BASE
Bill Mueller, .283/.365/.446 – 21.8 – 12
Kevin Youkilis, .260/.367/.413 – 7.9 – 8
Alex Rodriguez, .286/.375/.512 – 62.3 – 30
Again, not even close. All the complaints about A-Rod stinking it up for New York are unfoundered. He did have an off-season by his standards, but he still kills the competition here, although Bill Mueller came surprisingly close (a couple more dingers away) to matching Rodriguez’s production. If Mueller had played the same amount of innings, the Win Shares would be a lot closer. 2-2.
RIGHT FIELD
Gabe Kapler, .272/.311/.390 – 1.2 – 5
Trot Nixon, .315/.377/.510 – 13.1 – 4
Gary Sheffield, .290/.393/.534 – 63.4 – 31
Again, heavily in the Yankees’ favor. I know, I know, right now this looks like my point is not being proven. Just wait. 3-2 Yankees.
CENTER FIELD
Johnny Damon, .304/.380/.477 – 51.0 – 27
Bernie Williams, .262/.360/.435 – 31.0 -16
Kenny Lofton, .275/.346/.395 – 10.9 – 8
There, that ties things back up. 3-3.
LEFT FIELD
Manny Ramirez, .308/.397/.613 – 68.6 – 27
Hideki Matsui, .298/.390/.522 – 57.5 – 30
Manny’s power jumped back up after an off 2003 season, but his OBP dipped under .400 for the first time since 1998. It’s curious that Matsui’s WS is higher, although Manny had a much better season. It shows in the VORP, so I have to say the WS are some type of aberration. Anyways, no one in their right mind would take Matsui over Ramirez, so 4-3 Red Sox. So if it’s that close, we can see that it makes sense that the Red Sox’s offense is underrated and the Yankees’ overrated. If it’s that close, the spotlight of New York, and the increased focus on offense would lead people to believe the Yankees’ offense is vaunted. If their offense is vaunted, ours is locked, loaded, and ready to blow the Yankees’ out of the water. Why are we so vaunted? Well, let’s look at two things. The first thing is the lineup. I’ve included the better offensive player for both sides.

Johnny Damon     Derek Jeter
Mark Bellhorn    Alex Rodriguez
Manny Ramirez    Gary Sheffield
David Ortiz      Hideki Matsui
Kevin Millar     Bernie Williams
Trot Nixon       Jorge Posada
Jason Varitek    Ruben Sierra
Bill Mueller     Tony Clark
Orlando Cabrera  Miguel Cairo

The Yankees offense was extremely top-heavy. The bottom of the order for the Yankees was offensive (and I don’t mean in a good way). It’s only going to get worse next year with Tony Womack replacing Miguel Cairo, and Tino Martinez, Jason Giambi and Ruben Sierra splitting time at DH and Bernie Williams regressing even more. Although Jeter was heads and shoulders above the Red Sox shortstops, Johnny Damon had him beat in the leadoff spot. A-Rod takes second (anyone else think they would have been better served flipping Matsui and A-Rod?) and the tandem of Manny and Ortiz beats anybody. Millar beats Bernie Williams, and the OBP-driven Jorge Posada is ill-suited to the six spot with Nixon sliding in nicely, and Varitek, Mueller, and Cabrera is a no-brainer. The problem is that people look at positions and think the Yankees are better because of their large gaps at short, third, and right field. But you can’t do that. You have to look at the lineup, and the Sox lineup is much more balanced and deadly.
The second thing … say, aren’t you curious what the projections are for next year? I know I am, so I went and found projections for the Red Sox and Yankees. As before, let’s go position by position.
David Ortiz – .298/.380 with 35 HR.
Ruben Sierra – .233/.281 with 10 HR.
Jason Giambi – .252/.394 with 28 HR. (Banking a bit much on the non-roided Giambi.)
Pick: Ortiz
Jorge Posada – .265/.385 with 22 HR
Jason Varitek – .274/.361 with 17 HR.
Pick: Wash
Kevin Millar – .288/.369 with 19 HR.
Doug Mientkiewicz – .275/.372 with 8 HR.
Tino Martinez – Not listed, so here are his 2004 stats – .262/.362 with 23 HR. Seems like a good bet to repeat that.
Pick: Wash
Mark Bellhorn – .267/.381 with 16 HR
Tony Womack – .265/.311 with 4 HR
Pick: Bellhorn
Edgar Renteria – .324/.382 with 12 HR and 47 doubles
Derek Jeter – .298/.358 with 19 HR and 39 doubles.
Pick: Wash (hence my showing the doubles to illustrate why it’s a wash). I don’t know, looks like the differential between Renteria’s AVG and OBP is pushing it. Anyways, someone who hits .324 is always going to have more inherent value than someone who hits .298, enough to make up for 7 less HRs and 8 more 2B. So it’s a wash.
Bill Mueller – .289/.369 with 12 HR
Kevin Youkilis – .266/.367 with 9 HR
Alex Rodriguez – .285/.381 with 42 HR
Pick: Rodriguez
Trot Nixon – .282/.371 with 22 HR
Jay Payton – Not listed, so here are his 2002 New York stats in 287 AB – .284/.336 with 8 HR. Seems like a good bet to repeat that.
Gary Sheffield – .287/.388 with 33 HR
Pick: Sheffield, although the combo of Nixon and Payton make it close.
Johnny Damon – .290/.367 with 16 HR with 36 doubles and 6 triples
Bernie Williams – .266/.360 with 19 HR with 27 doubles and 1 triple
Pick: Damon
Manny Ramirez – .311/.409 with 38 HRs
Hideki Matsui – .293/.384 with 24 HRs
Pick: Ramirez
So we see here that the Red Sox actually improve. Shortstop is a wash, right field will be much closer, and third is really the only difference for the Yankees this time around, whereas they had SS and RF along with 3B in 2004. So the Red Sox offense should be markedly better than the Yankees offense in 2005.
Hey, just for fun, here are the pitching projections for the Red Sox. Look up the Yankees here, if you wish.
Curt Schilling – 19-6 with a 3.26 ERA in 218 IP
David Wells – Not listed. Kind of annoying. Let’s say he repeats his 2003 season with the Yankees because he had a better season with the Padres. So – 15-7 with a 4.14 ERA in 213 IP
Matt Clement – 13-11 with a 4.05 ERA in 189 IP. I disagree strongly with the IP. He will sniff 200 IP. As for the ERA, I think it’s pretty close to what he will have, but the wins will be different. Derek Lowe had a 16-14 record last year, so I’m going to guess at 17-9 for Clement.
Bronson Arroyo – 11-6 with a 3.83 ERA in 169.0 IP. Don’t like the IP, I think it’ll be around 180 IP, and the record I don’t like, I’d say it’s more like 15-8. But the ERA I think is spot-on. I think it could even hit 3.50.
Tim Wakefield – 10-9 with a 4.80 ERA in 182.0 IP
Wade Miller – 11-10 with a 4.12 ERA in 155.0 IP. Decent, but the wins will be different. This is with Miller on the Astros, so he’ll have more of a 14-9 record. Now something’s gotta give, because we’re not going to have six SPs, so the wins and innings are misleading, but so far, I agree with all the ERAs, which is more important.
Keith Foulke – 79 IP, 3.42 ERA. Whoa, I think this guy is way off-base here. I’m going to say 89 IP with a 2.13 ERA.
Matt Mantei – 39 IP, 3.92 ERA, 47 K. Kind of low in the IP, but I think injuries are factored in. I’ll take it.
Mike Timlin – 81.1 IP (that many?) with a 4.33 ERA
Alan Embree – 52 IP, 3.98 ERA. Optimistic.
Byung-Hyun Kim – 50 G, 13 GS. 9-5, 94 IP, 3.83. Definitely would take that.
Yes, I know John Halama is not here, but I couldn’t find him. Consider that his career as a reliever has an ERA in the 2’s. Take what you will from that.
Fun fact: Abe Alvarez is projected to start 27 games. He has an asterisk next to his name (as do all the other following people), so I assume that needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Perhaps they’re projecting him if he was slotted as a starting pitcher. Makes sense. Anyways, if he starts 27 games (which he won’t) then he’ll have an 11-9 record, 4.87 ERA, 135.0. That is very nice. Lenny DiNardo? Glad you asked. 4.32 ERA in 26 G, 15 GS, 100 IP. I’ve always been high on DiNardo. Mark Malaska 111 IP, 41 G, 13 GS, 4.70 ERA. Anastacio Martinez – 102 IP, 39 G, 11 GS, 5.56 ERA. This guy is way too lenient with games started. If Anastacio ever starts a game, I will be surprised.
There are other projections, like Charlie Zink, Brad Thomas, etc. Zink would be projected to a 6.55 ERA! Yech! Lots of interesting stuff to ponder, but all you should really take away from this are the projected ERAs, which I think all are spot on. I don’t like the inning totals or the win totals at all. Psst – Nomar is projected to hit .288/.339 with 21 HR. I can definitely see that.
Well, this article was pretty stat-heavy and light on the opinion, but we need articles like that every once in a while. Take what you will from this. It will be interesting to look back on this and see where people end up.