Nation STATion: The Red Sox in the second-half: Using the Magic 8 Ball

For reasons unknown, there were technical difficulties with last Thursday’s edition of Nation STATion on Here is the complete post.

There are 10 weeks left to the baseball season and like the rest of you I am a tad curious as to what will transpire for the Red Sox in the games ahead, so I figured I would available tools to find out.

Now as you know, I’m a stats guy. When I want to find out answers, I use the various tools at my disposal like historical second-half records, Batting Average for Balls In Play, Batting Average Against, and WHIP, then I start weighing them and trying to draw a conclusion.


I can make my life a lot easier and simply use the Magic 8 Ball.

You remember the Magic 8 Ball, don’t you? Made by Mattel, since 1950 this clairvoyant “toy” answers yes or no with 20 different answers:

  • It is certain
  • It is decidedly so
  • Without a doubt
  • Yes – definitely
  • You may rely on it
  • As I see it, yes
  • Most likely
  • Outlook good
  • Signs point to yes
  • Yes
  • Reply hazy, try again
  • Ask again later
  • Better not tell you now
  • Cannot predict now
  • Concentrate and ask again
  • Don’t count on it
  • My reply is no
  • My sources say no
  • Outlook not so good
  • Very doubtful

I decided to ask the online Magic 8 Ball some key questions about the Red Sox second half and here are my unadulterated results:

Will Carl Crawford bounce back to have a strong second-half?

I wouldn’t call the first half of Crawford’s first Sox season, a total bust, but there is no way it can be viewed as a success. Crawford is a lifetime .294 hitter and is hitting 51 points below that and has struck out in 16.6% of his plate appearances. After averaging 50 stolen bases a year for the last eight seasons, he has eight this season. When he comes off the DL, the Sox need him to produce at least at the .299 rate he has in the second half throughout his career. But will he?

Magic 8 Ball says: My reply is no

Will David Ortiz continue his success in the first half with a strong second half?

It has been a treat watching the Big Papi revival. There were a number of reasons that Ortiz thrived in the Manny B Manny years, but one of them is that Ortiz is great at learning from other hitters. I would love to hear a conversation between Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez on the art of hitting lefties because that has been a big part of Papi’s success this season. Lifetime, Ortiz has hit .262 against lefties and this season he’s hitting .344 with five homers. Ortiz is a .283 first-half hitter and a .281 second-half hitter although the last three seasons he’s averaged .270. Ortiz is going for a new contract and he’s hitting .304 overall, will he continue his success?

Magic 8 Ball says: Most likely

Will Josh Beckett have an All-Star second half?

If you went outside during the All-Star Game when it was announced that Josh Beckett couldn’t pitch because his knee was bothering him, you might have seen members of Red Sox Nation heading toward the Zakim Bridge. If Beckett has to go on the DL, not only will it mean that every member of the Sox starting rotation from the beginning of the season, will have spent some time disabled, but the Sox will have lost their most reliable pitcher. Beckett has a WHIP of 0.946 and has held batters to a league best 5.8 hits per nine innings. It’s hard to imagine that he can continue his .187 Batting Average Against because his Batting Average for balls in play is a paltry .226 (lifetime its .294 for him), but will he?

Magic 8 Ball says: Reply hazy, try again

Okay Magic 8 Ball, here’s a little more info: in the second half, lifetime, Beckett is 51-41 with a 3.91 ERA.

Magic 8 Ball says: Very doubtful

How about Jon Lester?

Lester was added to the All-Star squad and then was immediately replaced because he is on the DL. For those of you who thought he would be the Cy Young Award winner, that’s not going to happen. But, Lester continues to win ballgames. Charlie Sheen should win as much he does. Lester is 10-4 (.714) and his lifetime record, in his first 100 decisions, is now 71-29, which gives him a major league best .710 winning percentage. His ERA is 3.31 and his WHIP is 1.207, both good, just not award winning. But the Sox need him healthy and winning games in the second half, is that going to happen?

Magic 8 Ball says: Reply hazy, try again

Okay Magic 8 Ball, you are really making me work: in the second half, lifetime, Lester is 31-13 (.705) with a 3.80 ERA.

Magic 8 Ball says: As I see it, yes

Will Jonathan Papelbon have a strong second half?

They say “numbers don’t lie” and while that may be true, I do think they fib a bit. If I told you that a closer was 20 for 21 in saves (that’s 95%), had a 2-0 record, let in only one of five inherited runners, and was averaging 12.5 whiffs per nine innings, you might say, “I’ve got to get me one of those!” But for those of us who have agonized through Jonathan Papelbon’s close calls this season would be far less enthusiastic. His ERA last season was 3.90 and this season its 3.93. His WHIP this year is 1.200, which is 18th in the majors among closers with at least 10 saves. In 36.2 innings, he’s allowed 48 baserunners and considering he just about always appears in save situations that’s way too many for my liking. So, how will he do in the second half?

Magic 8 Ball says: Better not to tell you now

(That’s weird because it’s a nice tease for a planned upcoming edition of Nation STATion)

Those are some of the key questions to be considered for the Sox second half. I really didn’t want to know any more about J.D. Drew or John Lackey and I don’t need a Magic 8 Ball to tell me that Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia will make significant contributions in the second half. But before I put the 8 Ball away, I was curious:

Will Theo pull off a major trade before the July 31st deadline?

Magic 8 Ball says: Outlook good

How yummy is that?

There you have it, the answer to critical questions to get you ready for the second-half of the season.

But, before I go…

I’m just saying:

  • The last time the Red Sox clinched a world championship in Boston was on September 11, 1918, when the Sox beat the Cubs in Game Six.
  • In 2004, the Red Sox swept the Cardinals winning Game 4 in St. Louis.
  • In 2007, the Red Sox swept the Rockies winning Game 4 in Denver.
  • This season, because of the NL winning the AL Star Game, Game 4 of the World Series will be played in the American League city.

So Magic 8 Ball, Will the Sox win the World Series?

C’mon, you don’t really believe in Magic 8 Balls do you? Do you?