Sox Talk with Will Middlebrooks is a recurring content series on NESN.com. Middlebrooks, a former Red Sox player and current NESN analyst, gives his insight and opinion on pertinent Red Sox storylines throughout the season. You can read the latest stories from the series here.

MLB offenses became boom or bust over the last several seasons. The approach was hit as many home runs as possible or just go down swinging trying to do so.

The Boston Red Sox have operated differently this season, and it is fueling their new-found offensive success.

When MLB implemented new rules last season by outlawing the shift, adding a pitch clock and enlarging the bases, it opened up a different style of play teams could adopt. The Red Sox leaned into that as they turned to more speed and athleticism on the roster.

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The result? The Red Sox forged an offensive identity that is currently paying dividends.

“It’s old-school baseball,” Will Middlebrooks told NESN.com.

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The best example of the impact Boston’s offensive approach can have came this past Sunday against the New York Yankees. The Red Sox ran wild, swiping a franchise record nine bases in a 9-3 win.

Boston then stole five bases Wednesday night to finish off a sweep of the Blue Jays and sit first in the American League with 76 steals heading into the weekend.

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“I think teams have a hard time defending this style of play because they don’t see it very often, so they don’t really prep for it,” Middlebrooks said. “And we saw one of the best teams, if not the best team in baseball crumbled against guys just running all over the place. It affects the game in a lot of different ways.”

But it isn’t just stealing bases propelling the Red Sox. It’s hitting for average — Boston is fifth in all of baseball with a .254 batting average — and then putting strain on the opponent once the ball is in play, whether it’s booking it down the line, going first to third, turning a single into a double or just swiping bags left and right.

Sure, there’s still pop in Boston’s bats as evidenced by the four home runs they hit to beat the Blue Jays on Monday night. But it’s not at the center of the offense this season for the Red Sox, who have ripped off five straight wins.

“There’s also just way more opportunity to be successful when you’re not trying to hit home runs,” Middlebrooks said. “There’s reasons guys only hit so many home runs. You get way more hits than you do home runs. … You still have guys who can do it, but I think it’s just balancing a lineup and it’s preventing some of those valleys and peaks of baseball. I think with speed and the way they play the game hard and they’re base-to-base, they’re giving you hard 90s, it really is going to prevent the super low lows. I think it’s going to keep them more consistent.”

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Having someone at the top of the order like Jarren Duran to ignite the offense certainly has allowed the Red Sox to play in this fashion. Other players have followed his lead. David Hamilton found his niche with 20 stolen bases in 50 games this season while Ceddanne Rafaela, who got off to a rough start, hit his stride in June by batting .377 this month.

The Red Sox might not have exactly planned it to be this way for their offense, but this is how it came together and they’re running with it.

“They just have the perfect personnel group for the way the game’s evolved,” Middlebrooks said.

Featured image via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images