The Boston Red Sox are navigating the ship. A ship that’s currently empowered by the vaunted American League East, a division that employs four out of five teams with over .500 records. For much of Boston’s division reign this year, they’ve executed its succinct dominance through a punishing offense, one that’s grown to be feared by everyone.
No other team in the majors have manufactured the type of batting numbers that the Red Sox have. In fact, Boston leads baseball in five offensive categories, all by a wide margin with 336 runs, 596 hits, 994 total bases, a 293 team batting average plus a .847 on-base percentage.
This type of offensive outburst alone is why Boston has engineered everything you want in a modern-day lineup – a canny leadoff hitter, grizzled veterans, even punishing middle of the order guys – right now any mistake has gotten hammered and is damaging any opposing pitcher’s ERA and confidence.
Boston’s blistering offense has become so destructive that it’s withered down their biggest concern, an inconsistent starting rotation, into a minor anomaly. Despite all of the power the Red Sox have assembled, the team still ranks 22nd in baseball in collective ERA (4.37), which will not get the job done over an entire season. This a problem that they must address, but for the time being, isn’t hindering the team’s progress as a whole. Because quite frankly, Boston is still managing a top spot in the AL East with Baltimore.
The reason behind Boston’s torrid pace?
The Red Sox have waited patiently for the emergence of their young guns – Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. – to all peak at the right time. Based off the numbers alone, the lethal trio has filled-in the middle half of the Red Sox lineup flawlessly.
He is the guy that gets it all cranked up for the offense. In the seasons’ first two months, Betts is hitting .285 with 14 home runs and 45 RBIs, which is the most for any lead-off hitter in the game. Betts also did something last week that’s never been done in MLB history: homering in the first and second innings in back-to-back games, which is absolutely insane.
Since the Red Sox installed Betts into the leadoff spot, their offense has flourished. The fact that he is just 23 years of age is mind-boggling because of his cerebral ability and understanding every situation at the plate and in the field. If Betts maintains the pace that he’s on, a starting spot in the All-Star Game in July will be waiting for him.
Xander Bogaerts is another great piece for this lineup, as he is currently raking in a .345 average with six home runs and 33 RBIs. Bogaerts was brought up from the minors at 19 in 2013 and was an instrumental force in the Red Sox’s World Series run. Over the duration of his four years in the big leagues, Bogaerts has improved his plate discipline every year, lowering his SO% percentage significantly from 2014 to 2016. His 26-game hitting streak might have been snapped two days ago, but that still hasn’t discouraged Bogaerts’s presence as one of the best shortstops in the game.
Because while his offensive numbers have been off-the-charts, a resurgence with his glove has made his turnaround into a soon to be All-Star and potential gold glove winner worthwhile. As far as fielding percentage is concerned, Bogaerts is the second best in baseball in this category, safely handling 99.5 percent of the balls hit to him. Did I mention he’s only committed two errors in the process?
Jackie Bradley Jr.
The last of this deadly trio is Jackie Bradley Jr, his story is not all roses like Bogaerts and Betts. He’s experienced trials and tribulations during his young career. So much, that when Bradley Jr. was drafted 40th overall in 2011 MLB draft everyone assumed he was going to be the next center field prodigy for the Boston. However, his rise took a very methodical time to develop. Coming up through the minors, Bradley Jr. was constantly praised over his superlative defense and range in the outfield. But, his bat for the majority of his extended baseball career had always been behind. This stunted Bradley’s growth by not making his MLB debut until the middle of 2013, where his role wasn’t yet needed.
Then came a demotion at the outset of 2014 in order to find his swing. As it turned out, the grave decision turned out to be the best possible scenario for the late bloomer. Right now, in his first full season starting, Bradley has put it all together, as he’s in the midst of breakout year. In 215 plate appearances, he’s hitting .323 with nine home runs and 38 RBIs.
Prior to 2016, Bradley had hit just .233 and looked lost and constantly overmatched. It goes to show what perseverance and little confidence can do for a major league player. It may have taken a little longer than anticipated to succeed at the major-league level, but now that he has it down pat, it appears the Red Sox have found their center fielder for the future.
David Ortiz is reshaping a magical career
The ageless wonder, David Ortiz, has been the face of the Red Sox’s for the better part of the decade and has finally decided to hang it up once the season concludes. While his age may interpret that’s he reached the Mendoza line of his career, his numbers at 40 suggests otherwise. Ortiz is going out with a bang, putting up MVP type numbers and making people rethink of retiring.
Somehow, someway, Ortiz is managing to hit .340 with 16 home runs and 54 RBIs. At the point right now, you’d think he would lose a little bat speed, regress in power, or plate discipline. But not David Ortiz. Not this 2016 season.
He’s simply getting better with age and as confounding as that may sound, Ortiz is proving age is just a number by continuing to be a fixture in Red Sox lore.