Tuesday, September 02, 2008

City of Dust and the AFC South


He's the Mighty Mite, the Dust Storm. He's possibly the smallest clean-up hitter in the history of the Red Sox. When looking at it from a size perspective, the closest middle of the order you will find is Ted Williams and Jimmy Foxx to today's Dustin Pedroia/David Ortiz pairing. The big difference is that Foxx protected Williams in the line-up, not the other way around.

The team seems to have found Pedroia's spot in the order. To wit - He's batting .208 (72 at bats) when hitting first in the order, an impressive .339 (484 at bats) when batting second in the order, but when he's batting fourth, and yes, 14 at bats isn't a great sampling, but the numbers are obscene - he's hitting an mind-boggling .643, his on base percentage is .647, he's slugging 1.071 and his OPS is 1.718. He has yet to strikeout while batting fourth, while batting second he averaged one strikeout per 12.1 at bats.

In three games in the clean-up spot, his Runs Scored and Runs Batted In Per Game, or as I call it; RSBIG, is 3.33.

With Kevin Youkilis fighting a virus, Mike Lowell and JD Drew injured, Josh Beckett missing a couple of starts, Big Papi playing injured, Manny Ramirez playing his way out of town, and Varitek hitting like his last name should be Mendoza, Pedroia has led the team. Pedroia has been the spark plug, leading a cast that includes Jed Lowrie, Jason Bay, Jeff Bailey, Alex Cora, and Mark Kotsay.

Think about this for a second - The BoSox took two of three from potential post-season contender Chicago with a line-up that includes only opening day starters at only centerfield, second base, catcher, and designated hitter. More than half the starting line-up has turned over. They have missed starts from both of last seasons top two starters - Daisuke Matsuzaka and Beckett, and got virtually no contribution from the five spot in the rotation until recently.

I seem to remember some owner down in New York whining about how his team would be in contention if it weren't for injuries. Maybe they're just not that good a team. At least not good enough to compete with the Dust storm going on in Boston.

And onto the AFC South...

4. Texans - This team is improving, but they might be in the toughest division in football right now. While I believe this team will only win about five or six games tops, I also see them being in a lot of games at the end, losing several by less than a touchdown. If the offense improves and becomes more consistent, look for them to make some noise next season. This just isn't their year.

3. Titans - I see this team taking a step backwards. I still don't trust their quarterback and his desire to play the game. They will likely be 8-8 and out of the playoffs this season.

2. Colts - I think the Colts could still win the division, and I firmly believe that they will be going to the playoffs, but there are concerns around the Colts that mirror certain concerns I have with the Patriots. Manning is coming off an injury that will limit his mobility while playing behind a banged up line. Because of this there's every possibility that the Colts will get off to a slow start this season. Part of the issue I have with the line is that the middle of it is a mess. The big problem that the Colts will have that the Pats don't have is that the Colts face stiffer divisional competition. I see 10-6 and a wild card berth.

1. Jaguars - The Jags also have issues, particularly given the recent shooting incident, and they had a turbulent off-season with players getting in trouble. The Greg Williams defense might even be an issue for this team in getting over the hurdle that is the Colts considering, as good as his defenses have been, they have always lagged in the bottom half of the league in take-aways, and that might be a big problem. If everything clicks, they could win 11 or 12.

1 comment:

David Sullivan said...

How can Dustin not be in the MVP discussion now? He is in a zone that has been rarely entered, maybe Yaz in '67 or Tiger in'02.