Boston Red Sox: Where have all the home runs gone?

BRADENTON, FL - MARCH 13: Infielder Lars Anderson
BRADENTON, FL - MARCH 13: Infielder Lars Anderson /

The Boston Red Sox have not developed a significant starting pitcher for a decade. Add not developing a home run hitter to that list.

Where have all the home runs gone? That is the Boston Red Sox home runs since apparently every other team in the American League hit more than Boston during the 2017 season. Home runs and offensive output are synonymous with the Red Sox. The Big Picture saw a record number of MLB and World Series home runs, but for the Red Sox, they are falling like dandruff from a bald man.

Mookie Betts led the team in home runs (24) in 2017 and that was the third time this century a home-grown player led the team in going deep. The other two were Jacoby Ellsbury (2011) and Kevin Youkilis (2008). Neither could be considered a traditional home run hitter.

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Where is Mo Vaughn? Where is the next Jim Rice? Boston has suddenly come up as a wasteland for producing sluggers. The Yankees have Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. Even Greg Bird looks like the real deal with a made for Yankee Stadium swing, but in Boston, a drought continues.

The minor league system can boast the International League home run leader in Bryce Brentz, but Brentz – a former number one pick – seems to be on the outside looking in. So much for his right-handed power is in the mix.

The Red Sox do have another slugger of note in the minors in a long time minor league journeyman Jeremy Barfield. Barfield was picked off the independent league scrap-heap and seat to Portland where he feasted on Double-A pitching to the sweet tune of 27 dingers in just 92 games. Barfield – a right-handed hitter – will be in Pawtucket if he remains with the organization.

The Great Right Hope (sorry) is Michael Chavis, a now 22-year-old right-handed hitter who came into his own going yard in 2017. Chavis toasted 31 out between Salem and Portland, but that .250 average in Portland may say Mr. Chavis has some work to do. Still, Chavis is The One in the system for power and youth.

Why the blight? The Red Sox system has certainly produced some remarkable talent in the last 20 years, but that seems to hit a wall – unfortunately not the left field wall – when it comes to churning out sluggers. This seems to mirror the dearth in developing starting pitching.

The best of times for the Red Sox happened when Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz were the tandem for opposing pitchers to deal with. The rest of the lineup just fed off the two sluggers and it was a fun time at Fenway Park if you enjoyed scoring and World Series flags.

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The Red Sox will have to go outside the system as they have had to do with pitching – especially starting pitching. The management will scour the free agent list, trade options, Korean rice patties, and anyplace else where someone of power may surface. As with the pitching, the price will be high in major league talent. Do you want Giancarlo Stanton? I do. Wave goodbye to Andrew Benintendi for starters. Need J.D. Martinez? Just who did he recently hire to represent him?

I have no idea what goes on in the drafting war room as far as talent projections regarding the draft. All a mystery to me like the drive train of my car. Whatever it is the assessment seems to be faulty. No one seems to put it together as expected. Ryan Lavarnway? Long gone. Lars Anderson? Surfing? Will Middlebrooks never worked out.

Travis Shaw certainly did the job with 31 home runs, but that was with the Brewers. Hanley Ramirez gave his best – elsewhere. Sam Travis looks like Tarzan and hits like Jane according to a friend of mine. Travis will probably hit .300 somewhere in his MLB career and be fortunate to hit a dozen out.

Next: Red Sox free agent/trade options to replace Dustin Pedroia

Maybe something will happen? Baseball is often cyclical especially in the gathering of young players. One year the system may have nothing in the catching department and a few years down the road tossing a top catching prospect into left field. But this cycle for power has been a really long one and it does not seem to end anytime soon.