The Boston Red Sox are in a doubles race with the Texas Rangers, with the Rangers just one double behind in the American League. The Red Sox consider doubles an inherited franchise right, and being challenged is making good theater.
I have always had a fascination with doubles. In another age, it would be part of listing daily statistics in the newspaper - remember them? As a younger player, I never hit one, nor did I risk stretching that rare single into a double.
Fenway Park is a playground for doubles, reflected in team totals and individual honors. The result of the consummate line drive hitter such as J.D. Martinez leading the AL with 42 in 2021 and Rafael Devers hitting 56 two-baggers in 2019. The list of Red Sox doubles champions is extensive, including the all-time MLB leader in Earl Webb.
Verdugo and Duran's doubles spree will help ignite Red Sox offense
Webb set the standard at 67 in the 1931 season, but the lefty never topped 30 in any other season. The rumor was Webb would bypass the triples option to pad his doubles statistics. More on Webb can be examined here.
This season the Red Sox will have another doubles champion in Jarren Duran—an adventurous prediction on my part. Duran has 27 and is one behind Matt Chapman of the Blue Jays. Duran has that necessary gap power and a world of speed that can turn a grass-cutting single into two bases, especially with an inattentive outfielder. Being a lefty certainly gives Duran an excellent start towards first with his elite sprint speed.
Duran has internal competition with Alex Verdugo, who is one behind Duran in doubles. A left-handed hitter, also, Verdugo is piecing together a season that could catapult him into a healthy contract extension. Like Duran, Verdugo is not a home run machine like former Red Sox doubles champion David Ortiz. Both are more in the mold of Wade Boggs with wall and gap power.
Now back to the competition for Duran/Verdugo, and the leading contender will be the Ranger's Corey Seager. Seager is part of the Ranger's league-best offense and has 26 doubles in 269 plate appearances which matches up closely with Duran's 251 plate appearances. Unlike Duran, Seager will get the call every game, while manager Alex Cora has measured Duran's time. That approach may change by Cora.
Cora has yet to expose Duran to lefty pitching routinely. Still, I suspect he'll get more opportunities, especially if Boston pulls the unlikely trade trigger on Adam Duvall, reducing the right-hand power option. Duran is the future, and after his piling up at-bats, this is no longer just a Lou Clinton-like hot streak.
The Red Sox offense is third in the AL and can best be described as inconsistent. With the pending return of Trevor Story and Story hits a lot of doubles!