An inability to hit with runners in scoring position has killed the Red Sox in 2022
It feels like every game this season, the Boston Red Sox have loaded up the bases and left them loaded.
It might be the most frustrating thing a team can do in this game, and the Sox often do it multiple times in the same game (they did it twice in Wednesday’s loss).
In Thursday night’s series finale against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Sox embarrassed the Fenway Faithful by losing a very winnable game. Even with Christian Arroyo, Xander Bogaerts, and Tommy Pham all back in the lineup after some injuries earlier in the week, the Sox went 3-for-20 with runners in scoring position, leaving 12 men on base. Collectively, they’re hitting .259/.323/.411 with runners in scoring position and only slightly better with any man on base.
The Sox are somehow above league average in RBI and are tied for the second-most sacrifice flies this season, but they’re a dismal -40.4 in Base-Out Runs Added (RE24); by this metric, only 10 teams are worse at plating runs. Their two-out hitting is significantly worse than with zero or one out on the board: .215/.296/.367, .663 OPS. Across 40 games in which they’ve had two outs and the bases loaded, the numbers are even worse: .200/.286/.460.
In 94 at-bats in bases-loaded situations this season, the Sox have four grand slams, but only 24 hits and 79 runs scored. Hypothetically, if they hit RBI singles to plate two runs in 80 of those 94 chances, they’d have scored 160 runs. In other words, they’re doing very little with big opportunities.
So what can the Red Sox do, aside from cloning David Ortiz? Not much this season, but it must influence their roster reconstruction this winter. Clutch bats are hard to come by, and as fans saw in 2021, when the Sox led MLB in slugging percentage with two outs and runners on (or with Jackie Bradley Jr. in the 2018 ALCS), a clutch batter isn’t always the most prolific hitter.
But this season, the Sox don’t have enough of either kind, and the numbers don’t lie.