This year, the Boston Red Sox by no means are having a good season. Sitting at fourth place in the American League East with a 34-40 record, only the Tampa Bay Rays have a worse record at a dismal 29-46. Of course, Tampa Bay was predicted by many to win the division with Boston earning around 87 wins. As of right now, it seems highly unlikely that either team meets their expectations. Putting Tampa Bay aside, why is the home town team struggling so much this year? Let’s take a deeper look at why the Boston Red Sox continue to struggle winning games.
The first thought everyone has when a team is bad is to blame the manager. For Boston, this is definitely not the case. Manager John Farrell led the team to a World Series championship the previous season so he must be doing something right. All the other coaches on the team are the same as in 2013, so there definitely is not a coaching problem in Boston.
A second thought is the Moneyball strategy. General Billy Beane built A playoff contending team on about half what other teams spend by putting emphasis on pitching and OBP. The Boston Red Sox rank 12th out of 30 teams in OBP this year with a .321 mark. This is not terrible, but compare this to the outstanding .349 on base percentage they posted in their magical 2013 season. Regilars in the lineup this season with a sub-.300 OBP include: Jackie Bradley Jr., AJ Pierzynski, and Grady Sizemore who was recently released. In 2012, the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series. They led the league in OBP at .338. To put it this way: getting on base wins ball games.
If a team scores runs, they still need shutdown pitching. Obviously a few guys have put up underwhelming performances in the rotation this year (Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, Jake Peavy). Of course, who could forget the struggles of Edward Mujica who has been seriously misused this year. The closer has been a back-end of the bullpen guy used in low leverage situations. He has the closer’s mentality which explains his struggles as he pitched well in a pair of save opportunities this year. The rotation definitely raises some questions, and has not been a strength for Boston this year.
The injury bug struck the Red Sox this year and bit them hard. There have been a total of seven trips to the Disabled List this year for the big league club. This hurt the club and obviously replacement players cannot put up the same numbers as a regular except Brock Holt.
Overall, this year has been rough for the Red Sox. It certainly could get better, but being 74 games into the year, they will need to start playing some serious catch up soon.