Boston Red Sox bats lacking explosion we expected


A revamped Boston Red Sox lineup was expected to return the team to the top of the offensive leader boards, but the early returns haven’t been all that promising.

At first glance you may believe that a team that sits tied for 4th in the majors with 70 runs scored isn’t lacking for offense, but dig deeper and you’ll find that run total to be a bit misleading.

The Red Sox offense has been more mediocre than explosive. The team ranks 12th in the majors with a .312 Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) and 15th with a 95 Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+), per FanGraphs. If you prefer more traditional stats, Boston’s offense is 17th in the majors with a .239 batting average and 12th in home runs with 13. Any way you slice it, this offense falls in the middle of the pack.

More from Red Sox News

There have been some bright spots in the lineup, including the pair of high-priced free agent acquisitions. Pablo Sandoval is third on the team with a respectable .289 average, while Hanley Ramirez leads the team in home runs (5) and RBI (12). Dustin Pedroia is showing a return to form now that he’s finally healthy and the lineup has been boosted by strong starts from Xander Bogaerts and Brock Holt.

Unfortunately, this only tells half the story, as the other half of the lineup has been brutal. Boston has four hitters from their Opening Day lineup stuck below the Mendoza Line and two with an OPS well below .500 for the season.

Boston’s offense isn’t dominating opposing pitchers, they are taking advantage of the miscues of opposing defenses.

More from BoSox Injection

Red Sox opponents have committed 21 errors against them this season, which has led to a staggering 18 unearned runs in only 13 games. That amounts to 25 percent of Boston’s runs this season being attributed to unearned runs, which is clearly an unsustainable pace. It hasn’t all come from facing one disastrous defensive team either, as each of the four teams Boston has faced this season has committed at least 5 errors against them.

While some of those errors ultimately proved to be meaningless, there were at least three instances where unearned runs were responsible for a Red Sox victory.

  • April 10th – The Red Sox defeated the Yankees in a 19-inning marathon after Bogaerts advanced to third base on a passed ball to set up a sac fly from Mookie Betts for the winning (unearned) run.
  • April 11th – Boston feasted on sloppy defense from a Yankees team that committed 3 errors, leading to four unearned runs in an 8-4 victory. Take those unearned runs away and who knows how that game may have turned out. On the heels of that 19-inning game, they may have ended up heading for extra-innings again!
  • April 14th – The Washington Nationals committed 3 errors in one inning, including two by pitcher Blake Treinen, to wipe away a 7th-inning deficit and give the Red Sox an 8-7 victory. Boston scored 3 unearned runs in the inning without the benefit of a hit or a walk, becoming the first team in the expansion era (since 1961) to do so.

In Monday’s series finale against the Baltimore Orioles, Boston tagged Wei-Yin Chen for five unearned runs. Despite issuing five walks without making it out of the 5th inning, Chen managed to lower his season ERA by over a full run due to all five runs against him being blamed on his defense. Boston won the game 7-1, so technically they didn’t need those unearned runs to win, but the game was called off due to the weather in the middle of the 7th inning. Perhaps if it had been a closer game the umpires would have considered making more of an effort to finish the game.

A win counts the same no matter how you seal the victory, but if their opponent’s hadn’t gifted them those wins, the Red Sox 8-5 division leading record would quickly turn into a last place 5-8 record. Often times the margin of error in baseball is slim, but the Red Sox have been fortunate that those errors have favored them more often than not so far this season.