The Boston Red Sox suffer from a problem to put runs on the board. It became a problem after the 2013 World Series. It’s only gotten worse since then. For a few years now their hitters can’t seem to come through in clutch situations. They leave too many runners on base. In fact, as of July 26th, the Red Sox rank 24th out of the 30 MLB teams that leave runners on base at 7.03. Seeing the Red Sox reverting to their inability to post runs concerns Red Sox Nation. This problem comes as the New York Yankees seize on a chance to retake the lead in the American League East.
The Red Sox captured first place in the AL East last month but can’t quite hold a comfortable lead. They’ll win a few games in a row, then Rick Porcello will lose a game and the Red Sox find themselves on a losing streak again. A lot of fans blame Porcello for his lackluster pitching this season. According to the Boston Herald, the Red Sox have scored two or less runs for Porcello in 10 of of his 20 starts this season. The offense scored two or fewer only four times in 33 starts last season. So to say that the Red Sox slump falls on Porcello’s shoulders isn’t entirely fair. In fact, it’s not as much the pitching staff’s fault as much as it’s their hitters’.
The Red Sox Reverting To Their Old Ways Will Cripple Them
Several viable teams are contending for a spot in the 2017 playoffs. The Houston Astros will surely give the Red Sox a run for their money. The Seattle Mariners, beating the Red Sox in the first two of a three-game series, will also contend for a spot. With the Red Sox reverting to their old ways of bad offense, now’s the time to rethink strategy.
Let’s start with getting rid of John Farrell. It would jolt the team into some kind of pro-active approach to the game. It would also send a message to the rest of the team that no one is immune to change (David Price is finding that out the hard way). They need a manager like Crash Davis from Bull Durham. Someone who will call out the Lollygaggers and snap them into some real action. Do that and you’ll see more runs on the board!
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.