The Boston Red Sox had Major League Baseball’s best offense in 2016. Now? Not so much.
So far, the Red Sox have started the 2017 season at an underwhelming 11-10, scoring one run or fewer in five of those losses. They’ve been shutout three times in their last seven games. And even when they put runners on base, Boston simply hasn’t been able to get them across the plate.
But it’s not the time to worry just yet.
There’s no arguing the Red Sox offense needs to improve. If they want to be better than one game above .500 for the rest of the season, the bats need to wake up because the pitching hasn’t been much of an issue, especially of late. But at the end of April, it’s hard to gauge what any team will look like in September.
When you look around baseball, plenty of good teams are underperforming. As of Friday morning, the Red Sox were in better standing than the St. Louis Cardinals (11-11), the Los Angeles Dodgers (11-12) and the Texas Rangers (10-12). They’re also just one game off the pace of the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs, who were last year’s pennant winners and own 12-9 records. Those teams aren’t panicking yet, and neither should the Red Sox.
Boston isn’t even in a terrible place in the American League East, sitting in third just 3 1/2 games back of the Baltimore Orioles. And speaking of the Orioles, their normally powerful lineup hasn’t been lighting the word on fire, either, with just 79 runs on the season to Boston’s 78 in only one fewer game.
With 190 hits, which is tied for ninth in baseball with the Chicago Cubs, who have 26 more at-bats than the Red Sox, Boston isn’t having as much trouble putting the ball in play as they are hitting it out of the yard. Oddly enough, the Red Sox have the seventh-best batting average with runs in scoring position, but they obviously aren’t coming up with big hits when they need them most. The club’s 11 home runs are the least in MLB, and its .368 slugging percentage is sixth-worst.
But there still are 141 games for the Red Sox to improve. With David Ortiz’s retirement, the Red Sox’s young core probably is reeling a little bit, as they’re in a new position where they have to be leaders and don’t have Ortiz’s big personality as motivation. Boston also has faced some top talent pitching-wise, having seen Detroit Tigers starters Justin Verlander and Michael Fulmer, Toronto Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada and the Tampa Bay Rays’ Chris Archer. The Red Sox were shut out by New York Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka on Thursday night. They also went up against Orioles right-hander Dylan Bundy, who’s finally starting to realize his potential as a former fourth-overall pick with a 3-1 record and 1.65 ERA to start the season.
Boston fans have a habit of panicking, but they can take a sigh of relief for now. If the offense doesn’t improve even slightly in the coming weeks, then the Red Sox have a bigger issue on their hands. But with the season just finishing out its first month this weekend, Red Sox fans can take solace in the fact that there’s still a lot of baseball to be played.
Thumbnail photo via Patrick McDermott/USA TODAY Sports Images