The Boston Red Sox offense has been dynamic, but they may soon have every offensive position with more than 100 strikeouts.
Home runs are leaving the yard at a record pace this season and it seems to be a trend over the last few years. Is the baseball juiced? Are the players juiced? The downside of flaying away is swinging and missing and that is also at a record pace and the Red Sox are not immune to the whiff.
Strikeouts were at one time considered a baseball sin since they were the ultimate in non-productivity. Now it is an acceptable result. The Red Sox are now on the statistical cusp of having every lineup position with at least 100 strikeouts with designated hitter being the replacement of pitchers.
The only laggards are third base and right field, but that is easily within reach with another five weeks of swing and miss available to get every position on board. Rafael Devers (89) and Mookie Betts (90) can get hot in the failure category and notch 100.
Catcher Christian Vazquez (84) is the only other regular to have under 100 K’s, but his catching partner Sandy Leon (39) has contributed mightily to assume the catching department is represented in the 100 club.
So far first base (234) and second base (221) are in a splendid race of frustration but look no further than Michael Chavis whose 127 leads the team. Chavis has seen duty at both positions.
Chavis’s recent stint on the Injury List (IL) has allowed Andrew Benintendi (125) to creep into competition for team leadership. Meanwhile, Jackie Bradley Jr. is still in the hunt with 119. With Vazquez, Betts, and Devers accumulating whiffs the Red Sox could have nine players breaking the hundred barrier.
What is significant is the ability to simply swing and miss or in metrics parlance a Swinging Strike (SwStr%). Chavis is masterful in this category with an 18.6 SwStr% and it goes down to Betts with just a 4.8 SwStr%. As a team, the Red Sox have no chance to lead the American League in this less than prestigious department hovering in a very distant 11th place with a 10.9 SwStr%.
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Within the league, the Red Sox are rather ordinary with accomplishing the slow walk back to the dugout hanging back of the pack with 1092 whiffs for ninth place. Where they stand out is the beleaguered pitching staff that is second in the AL with a 9.8 K/9 and 1289 on the take a seat chart. Pitching is bagging them in droves.
The days are long gone when hitters would walk more than they whiff. No Wade Boggs around and the only one close to a career accomplishment is Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia has 624 career walks and 654 career strikeouts. The only ones (qualified) this season with more walks than whiffs are Carlos Santana and Alex Bregman, but Betts is close.
In 2018, the Red Sox had six players in triple digits and as a team, they went down futility highway 1253 times. With 1092 this season that figure of futility could be compromised, but the Big Kahuna is 2014 and 1337 whiffs. A delightful target!
(Stats through 8/23)