Red Sox off to Good Start, but Room to Improve

Red Sox

Courtesy of harvardsportsanalysis.wordpress.com

The Red Sox appear to have started the season at a blazing pace. Most baseball “experts” are probably predicting the Sox to come back to earth, so to speak, in the coming weeks. They are 12-4. If Hanrahan doesn’t blow two saves, they’d be 14-2. They have outscored their opponents by 33 runs already, five runs higher than the second best run differential in the American League held by the Oakland A’s at +28. But the Red Sox lineup has far more room to improve than it has room to come back to earth.

In fact, no single player has gotten off to an otherworldly start to the season. Daniel Nava is the only player hitting well above his career numbers with three homers in just 36 at-bats, a .333 average and .435 OBP. Everyone else has room to improve, and should.

Dustin Pedroia looks like his typical self, hitting .310 and getting on base at a .412 clip. However, he has yet to homer or record a triple, and has doubled only twice in 58 at-bats. His power will increase as the weather warms, per usual. And with Big Papi David Ortiz returning in the lineup behind him, Pedroia will see more pitches to hit.

Jacoby Ellsbury, too, is off to a solid start. His average is up around .300; he leads the majors with three triples and seven stolen bases. Yet in 70 at-bats Jacoby has walked just twice, a rate of one walk for every 35 at-bats. In 2011 he averaged a walk every 12 at-bats. Expect Jacoby to get on base more, meaning more steals, more pressure on opposing pitchers, and more runners on base for Victorino, Pedroia, and Ortiz.

Stephen Drew, Will Middlebrooks, and Jonny Gomes have all started the season in terrible form. Drew is 2-23 at the plate, and has not recorded a single hit with a runner on base. Middlebrooks is hitting .182 overall, has walked three times while striking out eighteen times, and has just one hit in eleven chances with runners in scoring position. Furthermore, the Sox signed Jonny Gomes to hit against lefties—he is 1-12 against lefties with five strikeouts. Yeesh.

So for everyone expecting the Sox to come back to earth, don’t be surprised if they really take off in May.

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