Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Difference Between '04 and '05

I'll tell you what the biggest difference between the '04 and '05 Sox has been - the 5th starter slot.

In '04, the 5th starter slot went 5-15 (team record) with a 9+ ERA in 20 games. In 2005, the 5th starter slot went 18-14 in 32 games. That's going from 10 games under .500 to 4 games over .500 in a single year. That's enough to account for the Sox going from 83-79 to 97-65 right there.

Moreover, the 12 additional starts pitched in by the 5th starters mean that the front 4 of the rotation threw 3 fewer starts each. That may not seem like much, but that almost 10% fewer starts. Buehrle, Garland, Garcia and Contreras were throwing on full rest (and a lot of times, 5 days' rest) almost the entire season.

If you look at the 18-14 record, you'll note that El Duque was 9-9 and McCarthy was 3-2, which is only 12-11 in its own right. The Sox were able to pull out a 6-3 record in the other games started by those guys because, unlike in 2004, they weren't so completely incompetent such as to put the Sox in 11-0 deficits or 7-2 deficits right away. They kept games close for the Sox bullpen and offense to pull them out. The 5th starter spot, more than anything, made the difference for the Sox.

By the way, the 2005 team was .263/.323/.425 compared to .268/.333/.457 in 2004. That's a drop off, but not a huge one; Ozuna and Perez did get nearly 400 at bats for this team.

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