The Boston Red Sox were able to go from last place in the American League East in 2015 to division winners in 2016 thanks in large part to their offense, which was the best in Major League Baseball. The loss of David Ortiz aside, the Boston lineup hasn’t changed much, but the Red Sox are off to a lukewarm start in 2017.
The Red Sox have scored in just nine of their 59 offensive innings, and Sunday’s 7-5 win over the Tigers in Detroit was the only game so far in which Boston put up runs in more than one inning. But there’s no need for the Red Sox to be hitting the panic button only one week into a 162-game season.
No team ever wants to make excuses, but if anyone has them, it’s the Red Sox. The flu has been spreading around the clubhouse since spring training, and it’s hit Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, Mitch Moreland and Brock Holt on the offensive side. Left fielder Andrew Benintendi was throwing up during Saturday’s game against the Tigers. And Holt, who was sick for the first couple of games, said Monday that he was only feeling a little bit better.
Beyond the flu, Xander Bogaerts was placed on the bereavement list after just two games and was supposed to be in the lineup Monday, but his flight from Aruba was canceled. Jackie Bradley Jr. sprained his knee rounding first base on a fly out Saturday and was placed on the 10-day disabled list Monday. Every one of those players besides Holt is a regular starter.
That’s left the Red Sox unable to put forth their best lineup every day, but if anything, it’s best that it’s happening to open the season rather than in September. Boston has 156 games to get back on its feet, and some of its bench players are getting the chance to get in some early reps. Not to mention, the Red Sox’s incomplete lineup has turned in a few big innings, which actually is encouraging as far as depth goes.
That’s not to say the Red Sox’s offense won’t be without its issues later down the line, as there still is an Ortiz-sized hole in the lineup. But after just six games, it’s impossible to say whether the issues now are legitimate or the product of outside circumstances, so it’s not time to worry just yet.
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