Situational Hitting Not Part of Red Sox Arsenal So Far This Season

red sox hitting

The Boston Red Sox have scored the seventh most runs in all of baseball through 25 games after Sunday’s night contest against the New York Yankees with 122 runners touching home plate. This also ranks sixth in the American League behind the Toronto Blue Jays, Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics, Houston Astros and now the New York Yankees.

However, the Red Sox have scored some of these runs due to other team’s mistakes (unearned runs) and thanks to 29 long balls on the season. Red Sox hittingThe team has not hit well with runners on base, especially with runners in scoring position, and that could be a concern if the trend continues.

As a whole the Red Sox are hitting .228 with runners in scoring position. That number goes up a tick to .239 with two outs, but that still is rather pathetic for a team that is in the top 10 in runs scored in all of baseball.

The team does have some players hitting well in these positions as Daniel Nava (.333), Mookie Betts (.304), Xander Bogaerts (.300) and Brock Holt (.300) are the only batters with 10 or more at-bats with runners in scoring position with an average above .263.

Players not hitting well in these situations include Pablo Sandoval (.263 in 19 chances), Hanley Ramirez (.227 in 22 chances), David Ortiz (.211 in 19 chances), Mike Napoli (.158 in 19 chances) and Dustin Pedroia (.124 in 24 chances). Now, yes, it is a small sample size for all of these batters and Napoli is hitting less than .170 on the season, but this could be a real concern for this team in its ability to tack on those extra runs in order to win games throughout the season.

The Red Sox have had a grand total of 109 at-bats with runners in scoring position and two outs and at least 14 apiece for Betts and Pedroia should mean a lot of runs. But both hitters have hit less than .150 with a combined four hits and just one extra-base hit for the centerfielder.

With all these numbers showing the Red Sox still haven’t found those timely hits, the team still has a 12-13 record and show that they can contend in the AL East as long as their pitching doesn’t fall off the table once every third or fourth start. Sure home runs help score runs, but timely hitting is what really makes an offense lethal.

Red Sox Bid Adieu to April

Red Sox

With April in the books,  what is different between this years’ version of the Red Sox and the 2014 team? At first blush, one might think, ‘Well, clearly the pitching is a little better than last year and the hitting is much better.’ Not so fast, Rem Dog disciples.

Last years’ pitching staff was actually BETTER through one month than the current staff.Red Sox Through one month, the ERA in 2015 is a league worst 5.04.  Last year at this time it was 3.95, right in the middle of the pack. As far as the number of earned runs that have been given up, the Sox are atop all of Major League Baseball in that category with 113 allowed. Not exactly the type of stat you want to brag about. Last year, they actually played four more games in April and gave up 9 fewer earned runs.

At the plate, most folks thought with the addition of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval that balls would be flying over the Green Monster at epic proportions, and even fantasized that the Mass Pike would have to be closed down during games for driver safety.  While Ramirez just tied David Ortiz’ record for most home runs in April, with 10, the team batting average is well, just average. At .245 it is good enough for 6th overall in the league, which at least is better that the .245 of a year ago that was 11th best.

Even with new sluggers added this year, some numbers are still very close when looked at year to year.  Last years’ slugging percentage was .384, this year it is at .379.  A year ago the OPS was .333, this year it is at .332, and this year’s OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging) is .711 while a year ago it was .717.

What does all this mean?  WHO KNOWS?! A year ago the Red Sox were a sub-.500 team, 2.5 games out of first place behind the New York Yankees.  Now, they are 12-10 and just one game behind the Yankees, who come to town this weekend.

It’s obvious that pitching is the weak link, and that the roster is overcrowded with some guys who can still hit (Daniel Nava, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli) and might be able to help a team, and with others who may have enormous upside such as Brock Holt and Jackie Bradley Jr.  Let’s also bear in mind that Rusney Castillo and Yoan Moncada represent an enormous investment and they’ll be at Fenway Park before too long. It’s time for Ben Cherington to play ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ and beef up the pitching.

What is Wrong With the Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

OK, I will go ahead and say what every baseball fan is thinking: what the hell has happened to the Boston Red Sox?! What happened to the team that went 97-65 last year and won the World Series? This team isn’t even remotely close to the team we saw raise the World Series trophy last October.

The low point of the 2014 season happened on Thursday when the Red Sox were routed by the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park 7-2. The loss was Boston’s seventh in a row.

The Red Sox went winless on their home stand for the first time in 20 years. Boston has a multitude of issues right now, the first of which is their lack of offense.

Last season, the Red Sox had one of the best offenses in baseball as they were second in the AL in batting average and fifth in homeruns. This season, Boston is 22nd in the majors in hitting as the team is averaging .245. They are also 19th in runs scored.

David Ortiz, who is having another All-Star like season, doesn’t have any protection in the lineup. The Red Sox also don’t have a true lead-off hitter who can take walks and steal bases batting in front of Dustin Pedroia and Ortiz.

First baseman Mike Napoli has missed the last two games with flu-like symptoms, so that hasn’t helped. While he hasn’t had a homerun since April 22, Napoli still provides enough of a threat that teams have to be careful about walking Ortiz.

The signing of shortstop Stephen Drew will help the Red Sox offense a bit since he was .284 with nine home runs against right-handed pitchers last season. However, the team still needs players like Grady Sizemore and Jackie Bradley Jr. to improve on their batting average and production.

The biggest and probably the most shocking issue for the Red Sox right now is the way their starting pitching has performed in 2014.  Clay Buchholz has been plain awful as he has a 2-4 record and a 6.32 ERA. His ERA is the second-highest among all major league pitchers who have thrown at least 40 innings.

Only Minnesota’s Kevin Correia (6.52) has a worse ERA than Buchholz, who has given up 14 runs on 29 hits in his last 15 innings. Buchholz isn’t the only pitcher struggling for the Red Sox right now.

Felix Doubront has been inconsistent as he has a 2-4 record with a 5.12 ERA. Jake Peavy has already given up nine home runs in nine games the season.

Jon Lester, Thursday’s game aside, has been the Red Sox best pitcher, and John Lackey has been steady throughout the season. The problem is the Red Sox need more consistency in the three, four and five spots in the rotation.

There aren’t any immediate plans to bring up Brandon Workman and/or Allen Webster from Triple-A, but if the bottom of the rotation continues to struggle, the team may have to think about bringing one or both of them up.

Catcher A.J. Pierzynski has also been labeled as a problem for the Red Sox and for good reason. He has been behind the plate for four of Jon Lester’s starts, including yesterday when the pitcher allowed seven runs in the first two innings. Lester is 0-4 with a 5.76 ERA while working with Pierzynski this season. When backup catcher David Ross is behind the plate, Lester is 4-2 with a 1.92 ERA.

On May 23, 2013, the Red Sox were 28-20. This year, they are 20-26 and in fourth place in the AL East. Only Houston and Tampa Bay have more losses than Boston.

So while it is only May, the Red Sox really need to start to turn it around now. With the Braves, Tigers and Orioles all on the schedule in the next couple of weeks, the team really can’t afford to get in a deeper hole than they are already in.