The Red Sox lineup has been horrible to begin the 2022 season
The Boston Red Sox offense has been so dreadful this season that we should be offended. There’s no way to sugar coat it, this lineup has been pathetic.
At the end of April, Boston ranked 26th in the majors in OPS (.609), tied for 25th in homers (12), 24th in runs (76) and 21st in average (.225). The Red Sox are averaging a meager 2.88 runs during their current road trip and they have failed to score more than three runs in 10 of their last 13 games.
It’s only one month, but if the Red Sox were to maintain their current pace, their .225 batting average and .273 on-base percentage would be their worst in franchise history. Their .336 slugging percentage would be their second-worst since the dead ball era, with the lone exception being 1943 (.332 SLG), the year that Ted Williams left to serve in World War II.
Their offensive ineptitude was magnified in a loss to the lowly Baltimore Orioles on Saturday. Nathan Eovaldi was brilliant, taking a no-hitter into the sixth and delivering seven shutout innings. Boston spoiled his gem by giving him only one run of support. The bullpen promptly blew the lead once Eovaldi was removed and the Red Sox went on to lose in extra innings.
The Red Sox have lost all four games this season that went to extra innings. In each of the last two, the lineup failed to drive in the “zombie runner” that begins extra-inning frames on second base. Get ’em over, get ’em in. Basic baseball fundamentals with a runner in scoring position that are highlighted under these extra-inning rules, but Boston has failed to get the job done.
You can’t earn a playoff spot in April but you can bury your chances with a slow start. It’s getting late really early for this team. Manager Alex Cora had a sense of urgency when discussing his team’s offensive woes, per MassLive’s Chris Cotillo.
"“The bottom line is we’ve got to swing the bats,” Cora said. “We had a horrible month in April. We didn’t do our job. We can talk about, ‘It’s early’ and all that stuff but we have to put better at-bats. That’s the bottom line. It seems like we get going and we stop and all of the sudden you look up, it’s the seventh or eighth inning and it’s a close game. We know we’re capable of doing it.”"
Boston’s bats are still capable of punishing the ball, ranking 10th in the majors with a 40.3% Hard Hit rate and 89.4 mph average exit velocity, per Baseball Savant.
Cora says his lineup needs to “swing the bats.” That’s not the problem though, the Red Sox swing the bat at a higher percentage than any team in baseball. The issue is that they aren’t swinging at good pitches. The Red Sox are swinging at 36.4% of pitches outsize of the zone, easily the highest rate in the majors. It’s no coincidence that their 13.3 swinging strike percentage also leads the majors.
Boston isn’t piling up an abundance of strikeouts – their 21.6 K% is actually among the 10 best in the majors. However, they aren’t drawing walks either, sitting tied for last with a 5.9 BB% this season.
Their aggressive approach prevents them from getting ahead in favorable counts. They aren’t making opposing pitchers work, allowing them to get into a rhythm to cruise through their outings. The Red Sox aren’t putting together competitive at-bats. The more they struggle, the more they are pressing.
The key to turning this offense around is plate discipline. They need to stop chasing pitches, draw more walks and be patient enough to wait for a pitch they can drive. We know there are plenty of bats in this lineup that are more than capable of doing it. It’s not a lack of talent that is derailing this offense, it’s their approach at the plate that needs an overhaul.
Now that the calendar has flipped to May, it’s time for a fresh start. The Red Sox need to put their April swoon behind them and focus on what’s ahead of them. There’s no reason to believe this will be a historically bad lineup so it can only get better from here.