March 26, 2013

Mind Game

Mind Game
Steven Goldman, ed.


(March 26, 2013)

The very capable analysts at the estimable Baseball Prospectus attempt a sabermetric analysis of the 2004 Boston Red Sox. Rejecting the cute but silly belief that the Red Sox had been cursed by fate, the authors examine some reasons the Red Sox had historically failed and explore the moves that made them champions in 2004.

This enjoyable and well-edited collection of articles breaks less new ground and reveals fewer new insights than I'd expected. Lots of questions remain unanswered.

We understand, I think, why the Yankees and the Red Sox differ, so elucidating this doesn't really add much to our appreciation of the game. But how do the current Red Sox differ in philosophy and execution from the A's? Are the Red Sox simply the Athletics with an adequate budgets? Where do the Indians fit in the picture?

My impression is that Theo was building the team toward a pennant in 2005, or perhaps toward a pennant in the 2004-2006 window. Is this true -- or consistent with the team's actions?

Back in the day, Bill James would find more interesting things to say about minor figures on bad teams than BP discovers in a rich and colorful championship. Nevertheless, a fine, intelligent, and serious look at the construction of a winning team.