Red Sox have a problem grounding into double plays

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 9: Shortstop Xander Bogaerts
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 9: Shortstop Xander Bogaerts /

The Boston Red Sox are now second in the American League in grounding into double plays. Is this a problem? A historical look at the Red Sox and DPs.

Watching the Sunday game against the White Sox, Xander Bogaerts grounded into a double play (GDP) – and that seems to be a frequent action by the young shortstop.  A few comments were made on the in-game discussion board so I decided to look into the Red Sox and double plays. Do they have a problem?

Traditionally the Red Sox – at least from my perspective – have a penchant for this particularly frustrating offensive event. Boston has had several hitters who were not exactly considered fleet of foot over the years.  A combination that would make you susceptible to the DP.

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Looking at the historical records, the Red Sox certainly do have a knack for that particular statistic.  The American League has kept the record since 1939 when Joe Vosmik – a Red Sox (naturally) outfielder captured the inaugural title with 27. Since then Boston has been honored to lead the league 20 times. But there is certainly a slump that exists.

Adrian Gonzalez won the title in 2011 and before that, it was Wade Boggs in 1988. Boggs hit .366 and A-Gon .338. Only two titles in that span, so something is amiss. From 1982 to 1985 Jim Rice won four consecutive titles, although he did share the 1983 crown with fellow outfielder Tony Armas. No wonder Rice’s license plate read 6-4-3, according to pundits.

That four-year span also produced a remarkable 131 DP’s including a record 36 in 1984.  Jackie Jensen almost duplicated Rice with three titles in four years from 1954 to 1957. Bill Tuttle beat out Jensen in 1955.  One note of interest with Jensen is 1954 when he led the American League in GDP, steals and sacrifice flies. I could not find another player with that trifecta.

What becomes clear is the list of exceptional hitters that have “won” the title.  Rice is in the Hall of Fame and so is two-time winner Carl Yastrzemski. Tony Perez and Orlando Cepeda captured the coveted award while with Boston and both are in the HOF.  So is Bobby Doerr, another two-time winner.  Ted Williams never came close, as his highest yearly figure was 1949 with 22 – Doerr had 31 that year.

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A Red Sox hitter hasn’t led the American League in GDP this century, but have come close in 2001 when the Royals edged them 134 to 132.  Collective over this century, Boston stands fourth in the totals behind the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Royals, but the century is still young. They did capture the 20th-century crown.

This season the Red Sox are in second place and have some serious catching up.  The team total stands at 104 and the Blue Jays are at 118. The Jays have added a secret weapon in new comer Kendrys Morales (18) who joined old standby Jose Bautista (15) to keep the Jays in control. The Jays already have seven in double figures and two with just a hard ground ball away at nine.

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The Red Sox contingent is led by Bogaerts with 14, followed by slow-footed Christian Vazquez with 12. Speedster Andrew Benintendi is tied with Hanley Ramirez at 11. The loss of Pablo Sandoval is certainly felt as the departed Panda contributed four in his short time in Boston.

The only problem the Red Sox have is maintaining first place and that is a nice problem to have.