Red Sox: A more strategic playing style is already benefiting the team

Mar 20, 2017; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell (53) looks on from the dugout during a spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 20, 2017; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell (53) looks on from the dugout during a spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /
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In the first game of the 2017 season, the Sox played with a different style that we did not see a lot last year.

Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell talked earlier in spring about being strategic and technical when it comes to playing the game. He mentioned wanting to bunt more to take advantage of the shift. Our website covered it here.

A good summary of what he said is that “We’ve got some things that we’ll look to do to hopefully take back some of those lanes that are otherwise shifted away from.” Shifting has increased in the last few years and any way to take an advantage from it is great.

That opportunity struck when Sandy Leon was batting in the bottom of the fifth inning with Pablo Sandoval at first after he just drove in Jackie Bradley Jr. There were two outs and the infield heavily shifted to the right. The team just scored the first run and wanted to keep the momentum. So what do you do? You smack a perfect bunt down the third base line just by the pitcher. It rolled just the right amount. It was far enough so that Leon, who is not the fastest guy ever, had time to run and be called safe. The bunt worked and prolonged the inning for the eventual Andrew Benintendi 3-run homer. I can hear all the sabermetric guys going insane.

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I am not a huge fan of the bunt, but under certain situations, you have to take advantage of it. It is all about giving yourself the best opportunity to win, no matter what. The whole left side was wide open. Sandy had a shift on for a reason and he was not just magically going to fix his swing in a short-time high-pressure situation. The Red Sox did the right thing and this move was critical to winning the game. More moves like this could define our season.

The team as a whole did not do well in strategic plays in 2016. They couldn’t bunt, sacrifice, or steal when it mattered the most. What Leon did was the perfect execution of a strategic move. It is how the game of baseball should be played. Doing certain plays in certain times when you know certain statistics against the other team is what helps you win.

For example, stealing bases. The Sox in 2016 only stole 75 bases and with our youth on the team, we should have stolen more. On the other hand, the Sox stole 109 bases in 2013. We did have the speedy Jacoby Ellsbury back then, but Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley are both equally as fast. Xander Bogaerts had two stolen bases on Opening Day. It is a sign of the team being more aggressive and not wasting any opportunity. It will help us win more games. Stealing is great. It helps to move the runner up, but also put pressure on the pitcher. It is like a guessing game and it drives the pitchers insane. The Royals did that perfectly during the 2015 season and look what their outcome was.

I hope I see more plays like this. Today was a start in the right direction with the shift bunt and steals. Strategy and being innovative is how you win ballgames. I am a fan and all I care about is winning. I do not care how it gets done, just win! I hope to see many Win Dance Repeats during the season.

Next: Red Sox 5 – Pirates 3: Three final thoughts

I am glad the Sox are starting to play like this and so will everyone else be when we watch them go down Boston in their duck boats. #GOLDBOTTLES