The Red Sox’ bench passed the eyeball test in 2013. It also stacks up well with the rest of the league when the numbers are crunched.
Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times analyzed the contributions — or lack thereof — of each team’s bench for the 2013 season. His goal was to determine the importance of having a solid roster from top to bottom, although the Red Sox’ World Series victory, on the surface, certainly highlighted the significance of assembling a deep team.
Jaffe took a look at what he considered to be each team’s marginal position players (those not among the eight guys listed as a starter for his team on Baseball-Reference.com), marginal starting pitchers (those not among the top five on the team in games started) and marginal relievers (those not among the top five pitchers in relief innings).
Jaffe used the Bill James stat Runs Created while looking at each bench’s offensive contribution. He analyzed how many runs each bench created versus how many outs each created, and then compared that to how many runs they would’ve created if the marginal players hit like league-average players. (League-average players typically deliver 20 runs worth of value.) As Jaffe points out, benches are expected to hit worse than average, as they are, of course, comprised of backup players. But some teams, including the Red Sox, actually received excellent production from their bench in 2013.
According to Jaffe’s calculations, the Red Sox ranked first with 63 runs — a distant first over the Indians, who ranked second with 48.1 runs. Seven teams eclipsed the 20-run average, and the White Sox finished last with -45.3 runs.
Jaffe offered up the following summary while assessing his collected data.
“If you add it up, benches combined to create 606 fewer runs than league-average hitters would create in that same span. Thus, an average bench was 20 runs below average. So Boston gained about six wins more than a typical team would’ve thanks to its bench plus (plus four instead of minus two).”
Jaffe also compiled data and drew conclusions about each team’s pitching staff, and it can all be found at the link below. Essentially, according to Jaffe, those teams with depth had plenty of it. And the Red Sox certainly had depth.