Running on the Red Sox

By Blaidd Drwg

The 9 stolen base disaster the other day got me thinking – I always heard that the Sox, and Jason Varitek in particular, were easy to run against, so I thought I would take a look at just how easy it is to steal against them. The following chart represents the numbers for all Sox catchers over the last 16 seasons. Generally, all of the Sox catchers have been below average to terrible.

Year SBA CS PCT CS Rank League Avg MGR Catcher(s)
2010 36 1 3% 29 25% Francona Martinez, Varitek
2009 151 23 13% 30 28% Francona Varitek, Kottaras
2008 96 32 25% 21 27% Francona Varitek, Cash
2007 107 32 23% 19 26% Francona Varitek, Mirabelli
2006 108 23 18% 29 29% Francona Varitek, Mirabelli
2005 87 29 25% 21 29% Francona Varitek, Mirabelli
2004 123 31 20% 30 30% Little Varitek, Mirabelli
2003 101 35 26% 26 31% Little Varitek, Mirabelli
2002 118 50 30% 20 32% Little Varitek, Mirabelli
2001 223 51 19% 30 31% Williams/Kerrigan Hatteberg, Varitek
2000 159 47 23% 28 31% Williams Varitek, Hatteberg
1999 159 58 27% 25 31% Williams Varitek, Hatteberg
1998 132 58 31% 18 31% Williams Hatteberg, Varitek
1997 171 53 24% 29 32% Williams Hatteberg,Haselman
1996 147 36 20% 29 29% Kennedy Stanley,Haselman
1995 80 41 34% 10 30% Kennedy MacFarlane,Haselman
1994 98 38 28% 23 31% Hobson Berryhill, Rowland

A couple notes about the chart – the League Avg column represents the percentage of baserunners thrown out in all of baseball for a particular year and the Catchers column has the starting catcher listed first (by number of games caught) and the primary backup catcher listed second. Notice the trend down in SB CS % – I keep hearing that teams are being more selective about the places they are choosing to steal (unless you are the Mariners this season) and those numbers seem to indicate that. I was surprised that the Sox were 29th this season in CS % with teams running all over them (the next most attempts against a single team is 18). The Nationals are last with a 0% CS rate, although their opponents have only attempted 6 SB against them, so for the purposes of this exercise, I feel pretty confident saying the Sox have the easiest battery to run against. This chart makes one thing obvious – historically, the Sox are generally in the bottom third of the league in throwing guys out. Really makes me wonder how many runs this has cost them over the years. So, where does the problem lie? Is it Varitek, is it the other catchers, is it the pitcher, manager or some combination of them. Here is the chart of Jason Varitek vs. the other catchers. In most of these seasons, the other catcher represent the battery of Wakefield and the catcher who is not Varitek.

Other Catchers Varitek
Year SBA CS CS PCT SBA CS CS PCT
2010 25 1 4% 11 0 0%
2009 43 7 14% 108 16 13%
2008 30 16 35% 56 16 22%
2007 44 12 21% 63 20 24%
2006 62 10 14% 46 13 22%
2005 22 8 27% 65 21 24%
2004 46 8 15% 77 23 23%
2003 40 12 23% 61 23 27%
2002 37 19 51% 81 31 28%
2001 172 33 16% 51 18 26%
2000 55 13 19% 104 34 25%
1999 35 12 25% 124 46 27%
1998 83 39 32% 49 19 28%

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