Right now, the Red Sox offense is incredible. On any given night, it’s actually a pleasure to watch this team hit, which is very refreshing after some pretty down years. Guys are finally healthy and reaching their full potential, as opposing teams struggle to contain a dynamic lineup that can win games in many different ways, at home or on the road.
Boston currently leads the American League in nine main offensive categories, ranging from runs scored and overall hits to on-base percentage and slugging. However, while the Red Sox offense was once too reliant on the home run, a new approach under hitting coach Chili Davis appears to have transformed this lineup into a relentless unit that hates to make outs. Quite simply, facing the Red Sox must be a terrifying proposition for opposing pitchers, because there is no obvious way of stopping those bats.
A Change of Approach
Just watching games this year, I can sense a different philosophy when it comes to the Red Sox offense. Boston is still a club that values on-base percentage immensely, and the Sox lead the league in that category, but that success is derived from a new offensive plan rather than being the sole cornerstone of it. This year, Red Sox hitters aren’t just taking pitches for the sake of it, or drawing walks because that’s what the front office ordains as the best strategy. Instead, it looks like the Red Sox offense is more focused on finding the pitch it likes then hammering it aggressively. That has led to greater offensive efficiency and, ultimately, more men on base coming around to score.
The fact that Boston leads the American League in slugging percentage but is only sixth in home runs speaks to that refined approach. These hitters aren’t trying to do too much. They’re happy to take the ball where it’s pitched and drive it for a run-scoring single or double. No American League team has a higher opposite field hit percentage than the Red Sox, which illustrates the new altruistic style even further. Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez and Xander Bogaerts exemplify that ethos, in that they’re not swinging for the fences as much as last season. They’re just focused on doing whatever it takes to score runs and help this team win.
Stolen Bases Make Red Sox Offense More Dynamic
A major part of that effort has been the stolen base. Only Houston has swiped more bags than Boston in the big leagues, to the surprise of veteran fans who acquaint the Red Sox offense more with sluggers than speedsters. However, the Sox stolen base success rate of 92% is even more astounding. Statisticians suggest that anywhere in the 75% range is a break-even point for stolen base success, but the Red Sox are demolishing that notion. They’ve only been caught stealing twice all season! That’s exciting to watch and a recipe for glory when coupled with the team-first approach in the batter’s box.
Of course, it’s still early, and the dominance of this Red Sox offense can largely be attributed to a small sample size. But, in all honesty, rival fans would be delighted to see their team top so many different categories at any point in the season. In simple terms, the Red Sox have altered their offensive approach without sacrificing the identity for which this team is so renowned. The home runs will likely arrive as the weather heats up, but fans need not worry if they don’t. With help from a terrific hitting coach, this Red Sox offense is scary. It may even be strong enough to carry Boston into October.