Monday, July 02, 2007


At Almost-The-All-Star-Break, the Red Sox are a mile up on their division making the quest for the playoffs almost an after-thought for us residents of Red Sox Nation. Still, all is not perfect. The Sox just finished off a losing June, going 13-14, and started off July on a losing note as well. In a way, the Red Sox are fortunate as the other teams in the division are essentially handing the crown to Boston on a silver platter. Not that I have a problem with that, but the Sox recent play won't fly in the playoffs. The culprit has been the Red Sox offense, who haven't been able to hit with runners on base recently.

The Sox recent offensive anemia is discouraging. To see how bad its been, I looked up the numbers. The surprise is that, while the Sox didn't hit as well in June (duh!) as they had in May and April, the overall numbers with runners in scoring position, with men on base, and with two outs (and all permutations thereof) are right in line with what the Sox have hit as a team so far (.272/.355/.434). There doesn't seem to be any fall off in performance, and the Sox recent slide has only brought them back in line with their seasonal numbers.

If there is one part that concerns me, it is the heart of the Red Sox order. Manny and Papi have both hit well with high averages and excellent on-base presence. The problem has been their remarkably reduced power. At this time last season, Ortiz had 23 homers. He has 13 now. Manny had 20 at this time last season, and has 11 now. This is a substantial decrease. I'm not expecting Ortiz to hit 50 each year, but at this pace he won't even reach thirty, and Manny will end up with his fewest homers since he hit 17 for Cleveland in 1994, his first full season in the majors.

These things can turn around quickly, but I think part of the reason the Red Sox haven't scored as much recently can be attributed to this lack of power from the middle of the order. For the Red Sox to really turn on the wins and finish the Yankees and Jays off, these two have to start to produce. I have no doubt they will. Its just a matter of time.

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