Spring Training scratches an itch. It’s great to hear the crack of the bat and watch new and familiar faces get ready for the next campaign.
The games, of course, are practically worthless as indicators of how the regular season will unfold. Still, they give us a chance to ease our way into the new season and watch some young talent that may impact the regular season down the line, this year or later.
Over on Twitter, the @RSNStats data stream sputters to life to provide a few light stats during some spring games, though the real data won’t flow in earnest until the official season begins. Exhibition games do, however, offer a chance to exercise some new tools and systems developed in the off-season to greater enhance how the data feed works. As always, your comments about RSNStats, as well as requests for specific types of stats, are welcome anytime.
Now, a few notes and news of interest to Red Sox fans:
- It’s impossible to argue with Chris Sale‘s dominance last season. He reached the 200-strikeout mark faster than any American League pitcher in a single season according to the Elias Sports Bureau, started the All-Star Game, and appeared in his first career playoff game. But fans who watched him throughout the season saw a different, less effective pitcher in the final few weeks of 2017. It’s not a new problem for Sale, whose past late-season tail offs have been well-documented. But Sale and new pitching coach Dana LeVangie have a plan for 2018 and Sale says he’s all in. “We haven’t said one time, ‘September or October,’” Sale told ESPN. “Every time we use only November. That’s the goal.”
- For a long time, the view around baseball was that the Red Sox were leaders in data analytics, but hiring Alex Cora as manager was a wake up call for Boston’s front office. Cora’s knowledge of the Astro’s data crunching systems made it clear, Boston needed (and has now made) some upgrades.
- Despite a paltry 168 Red Sox home runs last year, the major leagues set a new record with 6,105 round-trippers. That total far surpassed the previous record of 5,693 home runs in the 2000 season. Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has repeatedly denied rumors that the ball has been altered, but now new research suggests that baseballs used after the 2015 All-Star Game are slightly different in a number of ways than older baseballs.
- The White Sox have signed smiling Robbie Ross, Jr. to a minor-league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Ross came to the Red Sox after a miserable 2014 with the Rangers, amassing a 6.20 ERA in 27 appearances. But in Boston, Ross offered reliable relief, appearing in 54 games of both 2015 and 2016 with a 3.86 and 3.25 ERA, respectively. Last year, Ross was limited to just 8 games due to injury and underwent season-ending back surgery in August.