There’s a problem in Boston that few are discussing. The Red Sox leave runners on base. As of August 11th, they lead the American League in runners left on base at an average of 15.50 per game. The Red Sox also lead the league in runners in scoring position left on base at 3.78. So if the Red Sox are leaving all teams in baseball with a .283 batting average, then why aren’t we scoring more?
The problem of how the Red Sox leave runners on base has existed for a few seasons now. Up to May 21st last season, the Sox were batting just .199 with eight doubles, three triples and 11 home runs when runners were in scoring position. You’d think after two seasons that John Farrell would focus more on this problem. But so far this season it seems as though the team blows every opportunity to score when the load the bases. It’s particularly frustrating when they load the bases with no outs, and strand them all after three.
Dustin Pedrioa, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and David Ortiz are strong hitters. They can get on base. Betts and Bradley Jr. can steal bases to get into scoring position. They’re doing their part. So that leaves the bottom half of the lineup. Except for Sandy Leon, the Red Sox bottom half of the lineup is mediocre at best. Travis Shaw isn’t hitting the ball like he once was. Aaron Hill has yet to get into a hitting groove. Hanley Ramirez is good when he gets hits but he’s been inconsistent all season. It’s only worse when someone like Ryan Hanigan or Christian Vazquez is catching because their batting averages are lower than some NL starting pitcher’s.
Here’s a radical idea. Instead of making the lineup top-heavy with good hitters, mix the good hitters with the bad. Make it odd/even. Pedrioa starts off, followed by someone like Aaron Hill. Hill’s on-base percentage isn’t too bad this season so there’s a good chance he could reach base. Betts could advance him. Bring up Shaw, who might ground out, but will advance Hill and Betts. Then bring in another big gun like Ortiz or Bradley Jr. to drive them home. Don’t insert anyone into the lineup with a OBP of less than .300. We have plenty of hitters with a .300 or better OBP.
But what do I know? I’m just an English teacher, not a baseball manager. What I do know though is that the Red Sox leave runners on base more often than they should, and it doesn’t look like the problem will get better any time soon.