Red Sox aggressiveness on base paths leads to running into outs

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 14: Tuffy Gosewisch
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 14: Tuffy Gosewisch /

The Boston Red Sox aren’t shy about taking an extra base when the opportunity presents itself – or sometimes when it doesn’t.

Being aggressive in certain situations can be beneficial in baseball, but sometimes plays can be too aggressive. The Boston Red Sox are finding that out the hard way.

The Red Sox will jump at any opportunity to take an extra base. The team is second in the majors in Bases Taken, which tracks the number of times a player advances a base on a fly ball, passed ball, wild pitch, balk or defensive indifference.

They also take an extra base – advancing more than one base on a single or more than two on a double – on 44 percent of the available opportunities. Only three major league teams have a higher XBT% and none of them attempt to take that extra base as often as the Red Sox.

A lineup that doesn’t produce many home runs has to manufacture other ways to score, making aggressive base running a necessity. Unfortunately, those risks can work against them. Boston has made 59 outs on the base paths, by far the most in the majors.

More from Red Sox News

Thursday night’s win over the Chicago White Sox was a perfect example. Sure, Boston piled up nine runs and walked away with a victory. We certainly can’t complain about the outcome, yet we also can’t help but wonder how many runs were left on the table by base running mistakes.

Chicago tried to hand the Red Sox a gift when left fielder Nick Delmonico misjudged a routine fly ball off the bat of Rafael Devers that fell harmlessly beside him. The play was ruled an error, although no damage would be done. Hanley Ramirez saw the mistake as a free pass home, only to be easily thrown out at the plate. Turns out, the mistake was his.

This marked the 23rd time a Red Sox player has been thrown out at home, the most in the majors. The Los Angeles Dodgers are a distant second with 17, while league average is 12.

The base running blunders didn’t end there. Andrew Benintendi was responsible for a pair of bonehead mistakes. After he doubled to lead off the bottom of the fourth, Benny was thrown out attempting to advance to third on a ground ball hit in front of him on the left side of the infield. Rookie mistake.

Benintendi would later run into an out attempting to advance from first to third on a base hit by Eduardo Nunez. Instead of runners on the corners, the inning came to an abrupt end.

More from Red Sox News

You won’t be surprised to learn that Benintendi holds a share of the major league-lead with 10 outs made on the bases. The 23-year old gave a sheepish smile when asked about his base running mistakes in a post-game interview on NESN, but nobody would be laughing if this occurred in a loss. This is a part of his game that the rookie needs to improve upon. He has the speed to make plays on the base paths, such as when he scored from second on an infield single by Ramirez. That’s great heads-up base running. Don’t lose that aggressiveness, just play smarter.

The aim here isn’t to pick on Benintendi, who clearly isn’t the sole reason that the Red Sox lead the majors in outs on the bases. Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts and Hustle Hanley have all made seven outs on the bases this season. The major league average is five. Sandy Leon has been thrown out on the base paths four times and he only plays in about half the games! He would have added one more to that total if not for an outstanding acrobatic dive at home plate to give the Red Sox a walk-off win last week. Sometimes aggressive base running pays off even when it shouldn’t have.

The Red Sox are an above-average base stealing team, ranking eighth in the majors with 67 steals and a 75 percent success rate. The addition of Nunez, whose 21 steals rank seventh with an 81 SB%, will improve those figures. They have picked their spots wisely when it comes to swiping a bag, yet the same can’t be said for the rest of their base running habits.

Next: Tim Wakefield gives back to Little League

Making a mistake on the base paths can go overlooked in a game where the team still piles up runs and wins by a comfortable margin. That won’t always be the case, especially if this team makes it to the postseason. Being aggressive can be a good thing, even if it doesn’t always pay off. Being foolish rarely works out. Time for the Red Sox to clean up this aspect of their game before these mistakes come back to haunt them.