JD Martinez says Red Sox offense is “stuck” and “underperforming”
The Boston Red Sox have been trying to work around a power outage all season long.
Under the bright lights of Fenway Park, their bats have gone dark. Home runs elude them, and with them, victories over teams they should be beating.
The Sox should be better than they are. I feel like I’ve been saying it for months, like I’m caught in an endless loop of maddeningly mediocre baseball.
“This is who we are” is Alex Cora’s 2022 version of ‘We have to play better’ in 2019, though he’s used that old chestnut quite a bit this year too. On Thursday night, after they fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates, a team even worse than they are (but not by much), Cora said, ‘We’re better than this.’
Are they, though? They certainly should be, but they’re not.
Among all 30 teams, the Sox rank 19th in home runs, a steep fall from 10th last year. That’s pretty appalling for a team that has J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, and Xander Bogaerts.
At least Martinez owned it on Thursday night:
"“The offense is just stuck right now. We’re really not going forward. This is a potent lineup with three guys in the middle of the order [Martinez, Rafael Devers, and Xander Bogaerts] that really drive the ball and really kind of aren’t doing that right now. It’s kind of just making it one of those offenses that is station to station right now. As an offense, I believe we’re underperforming.”"
Underperforming? You don’t say.
Devers has a respectable 25 homers, the third-most among American League hitters, but he’s the only player on the team to reach 20 blasts. Martinez and Bogaerts aren’t even on pace to finish with half their totals from last season. Excluding the shortened 2020 season, Martinez has hit 20+ home runs every season since 2014. He’s hit nine in 101 games this year. Bogaerts is on pace for more doubles than last year, but significantly fewer homers. His overall numbers are more than solid, but the overarching question remains: where is all the power?
The Sox can point to injuries – Trevor Story and Kiké Hernández, especially – and not retaining Kyle Schwarber and Hunter Renfroe as very valid reasons for the drop in round-trippers, but ultimately, this is still a team that can hit better than they are. So while there’s more than enough legitimate blame to go around, there’s also really no singular excuse to explain why their healthy players have suddenly become allergic to the long ball.
The supposedly re-deadened/un-juiced baseballs would also be a fair excuse if it was impacting other teams to this severity, but plenty of other lineups are doing just fine. Aaron Judge leads MLB with 46 home runs, and dozens of players around the league have 20+ home runs; Devers is the only one on the Sox roster. Last season, he was one of six Sox players who reached the 20-homer mark.
Whatever the Sox issue with homers is, they need to figure it out fast. Or more likely, they’ll just go home in October.