MLB Standings Watch: Boston Red Sox bats go silent


The Boston Red Sox (14-17) sit 5.5 games back of the division leading New York Yankees and mere percentage points ahead of the Baltimore Orioles for last place in the AL East. The good news is that every other division in the majors has a last place team much further away from the top, so no team in this division is out of the race yet. The bad news is that the Red Sox are three games under .500 and have a -26 run differential that stands as the second worst in the AL.

The criticism that we’ve heaped upon the Red Sox pitching staff has overshadowed the team’s scuffling offense. Boston has scored a major league-low 22 runs in the month of May and they are hitting a meager .201 as a team this month.

Boston was expected to be able to overcome a mediocre pitching staff on the strength of a powerful lineup, but the offense has been middle of the pack so far this season. The primary reason for their struggles has been an inability to hit with runners in scoring position, where they rank dead last this season with a .203 average.

We have already seen the Red Sox replace their pitching coach in reaction to early season struggles. If the lineup doesn’t start to click soon, will their hitting coach take the fall as well?

AL East Standings
(A look at the division standings, as of Monday morning)

(American League team gaining momentum)

Minnesota Twins: We expected the AL Central to be a tight division race, but the Twins were supposed to be the one team that was unlikely to factor into it. Apparently they had other plans. Minnesota has won 8 of their last 10 games to move up to third in the division and only 2.5 games out of first place.

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Not many would look at this lineup and consider it a powerhouse, yet they rank 4th in the league with 151 runs scored. Veteran outfielder Torii Hunter has been a solid pickup, driving in 19 of those runs to lead the team, while third baseman Trevor Plouffe has an .811 OPS and ranks 12th in the league with a 1.5 WAR. Joe Mauer‘s bat doesn’t profile as well at first base as it once did at catcher, but he continues to do Joe Mauer things by collecting a team-high 35 hits.

(American League team that is struggling)

Oakland A’s: The Red Sox are catching the A’s during a 5-game losing streak that has dropped them to the bottom of their division, as they head west to begin a series in Oakland on Monday.

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While the A’s rotation has been one of their strengths this season, the bullpen has been a disaster. So bad in fact that they were willing to take Edward Mujica off of Boston’s hands because they thought he would provide them with an upgrade. Oakland relievers have combined to post a league-worst 5.16 ERA and have accounted for 9 of the team’s 21 losses this season, tying them for the most bullpen losses in the majors.

The A’s are 1-10 in one-run games and an MLB worst 0-5 in extra-innings. Some of this may purely be bad luck bound to turn in their favor at some point, but much of the blame for their late game struggles falls on their leaky bullpen (a major league-leading 33 errors hasn’t helped either). Sean Doolittle could return later this month to help solidify the bullpen, after beginning the year on the disabled list, but they need more reinforcements.

Boston may have the league’s worst offense so far in May, but Oakland has the worst pitching staff this month with a 5.44 ERA. This should be quite a series. What’s the opposite of when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? We might find out in Oakland this week.

Playoff Outlook
(Division leaders and teams holding a Wild Card spot in the American League)

AL East: New York Yankees (20-12)
AL Central: Kansas City Royals (20-11)
AL West: Houston Astros (20-12)
Wild Card: Detroit Tigers (19-13)
Wild Card: Minnesota Twins (18-14)