After 32 games last season, the Boston Red Sox were 21-11 and on top of the AL East. This season through 32 games, the Red Sox are in third place in the AL East with a 15-17 record. Let’s compare the differences between this year’s Red Sox team and the 2013 team.
In the team’s first 32 games in 2013, the Red Sox were hitting .302 with runners in scoring position, and ranked third in the majors at the time. This season, the Red Sox are hitting .222 (with a .669 OPS) with runners in scoring position. Only the Cleveland Indians and the Houston Astros are hitting worse in the American League.
Having a .244 batting average also doesn’t help the Red Sox. While designated hitter David Ortiz has six home runs, he has a .241 batting average. Outfielders Grady Sizemore and Jackie Bradley Jr. have also struggled, as both are hitting .224 and .215 respectively.
So far in 2014, the Red Sox have failed to drive in runs in a number of their games, including their 3-2 loss Sunday against the Oakland Athletics. During that game, Boston left a total of 25 runners on base.
The Red Sox have had more opportunities than most to score runs. The problem has been moving runners over in scoring position and/or scoring them at all.
The big reason for the success of the Red Sox a season ago was their ability to win close games. During their first 32 games in 2013, they were 4-2 in one-run games and had three walk-off victories. So far in 32 games in 2014, the Red Sox are 3-8 in one-run games.
The bright side for Sox fans so far has been their starting pitching. After 32 games, Boston has a 3.68 ERA, which ranks third in the American League. Jon Lester and Jake Peavy have been the team’s best starting pitchers by far as they both have an ERA under three.
While the bullpen hasn’t been as lights out as a year ago, it still ranks among the best in the majors. Koji Uehara and Junich Tazawa have been great in the bullpen, but Edward Mujica has been a huge disappointment. In 11 games the 2013 All-Star has played, he has given up a total of 10 runs.
There’s no point of mentioning the players who were on the Red Sox last year, because it’s pointless. They aren’t coming back to Boston and this 2014 version of the Red Sox needs to play more consistently. So far Boston doesn’t have that ‘It factor’ it had last season, but that doesn’t mean this team can’t be as special.