Red Sox Power Outage

Imbricus

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I didn't see a thread that this observation fit into, so I figured I'd start a new one. Out of curiosity this morning, trying to figure out why this year's Red Sox have been so meh so far, I looked up some MLB team stats. At first I was curious where they stood in batting average; I thought maybe there was a sizable decline there, but:

#1 Washington 0.290
#2 Houston 0.278
#3 NY Yankees 0.275
#4 Boston 0.266
(tied with Atlanta)

Okay, not that. Then pitching would be the culprit? E.R.A. is a decent metric, and with Price out, and a couple of premium relievers sidelined, maybe they're middle of the pack? Not even close:

#1 Chi Sox 3.20
#2 LA Dodgers 3.40
#3 Boston 3.51

Then I decided to check this category and bingo:

#29 Boston 0.66
#30 SF Giants 0.63

That's home runs per game. Basically, they're next to worst in the MLB, barely scraping past the Giants. This is particularly pathetic considering on a good day, with the wind blowing out, a fly ball should hit the net over the Green Monster. So there's a power outage here. Is this a real problem or are they just in a slump?
 

Buzzkill Pauley

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I vote real problem. X has like 3 XBH all year.

Also when did they put nets back on the monster?
Yeah, I agree it looks like a real problem.

Bogaerts is suddenly swinging like he's Juan Pierre, and JBJ's swinging like he has to hit 50 bombs all himself to make up for losing Ortiz from the lineup. Honestly, it seems like both these guys are overreacting in opposite directions to losing Papi.

Too bad the Sox offense projecting to remain better than average presumed both guys hitting 20-25 HR was a real thing.

Add in the expected crash to earth by the catchers and -- once again -- the suck from 3B, and that neither Mookie nor Pedroia hitting for quite as much power as last season.

It's a perfect storm.

The one easy non-transactional move they have is to bench JBJ for a few games to work on shortening his swing, and give those starts to Young.

The one easy transactional option they have to fix things is to call up Swihart to try to improve offense at C. But they'll have to wait for him to get off the DL and hope that his line of AAA suck was really due to the finger injury that got him placed on there.

There's no easy answer for SS and 3B. They're going to have to keep putting Xander out there to flick singles until he straightens himself out.

I have no words for 3B. It is the literal worst.
 

grimshaw

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The one easy transactional option they have to fix things is to call up Swihart to try to improve offense at C. But they'll have to wait for him to get off the DL and hope that his line of AAA suck was really due to the finger injury that got him placed on there.
Swihart isn't fixing an outage of any kind right now, until he can crack a .400 slugging. He hasn't done at any of his stops since 2014 in AA. I get we love him, but his career OPS in the minors is .753 and it's closer to .675 in AAA for whatever reasons. He needs lots of time at one level to show some consistency for once.

I'm not even sure replacing him over Leon would help given how good defensively Sandy is.

The internal options for the other positions are pretty bleak. Holt would at least restore sanity to the defense if he is able to recover from his vertigo/concussion issues, but he's not helping the lineup.

Aneury Tavarez is the only pseudo prospect in AAA (other than Travis who isn't displacing anyone right now), and he's a 4th outfielder. Devers has been decent in AA, but he's probably not up until August in a best case scenario.

May is an easy month. The pitching they face will be much worse, and I'm sure things will normalize by Memorial Day.
 
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Imbricus

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Also when did they put nets back on the monster?
Ach, showing my age. Strike that anachronism.

On the matter of the missing power bats: Travis Shaw would be nice right now. He's got six home runs with the Brewers so far. I know hindsight is 20-20, but he's looking like a viable third baseman after all.
 

streeter88

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Not just HRs, but the Sox are 24th in MLB with a .379 team SLG. Interestingly, they would be even lower (28th with .365 SLG) if they didn't have Vazquez at .467 and Benintendi at .455.

So far at 3B they have tried Sandoval (injured), Hernandez (injured), everyone says waaayy too early for Devers. But he is slugging .590 with 5 doubles and 5 HRs in 20 games (SSS!) in Portland... Can someone who knows better please comment on how long it takes to improve pitch recognition enough so that he doesn't get eaten up by major league pitching?

And given it's only 6th of May, is there an element of panic here?
 

MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

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RE: Devers. I go to a fair amount of Sea Dogs games and while he looks great in the aggregate right now, and minor league numbers generally do translate to some degree, you've got to remember that you simply don't see much by way of velocity or secondary pitches at the AA level.

Guys like Mookie, Benintendi (whose age and pedigree, particularly, were much different), and Moncada (whose K difficulty was really exposed in the majors) lately looked like they clearly outclassed the league. I'm not sure I can say that about Devers. He started slowly, and then got really hot last week. Three of those 5 homers came in back to back games. And, to be fair, when I first saw Rusney Castillo in AA, he looked like he outclassed the league as well, and we all know how that worked out.
 

Bob Montgomerys Helmet Hat

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Ach, showing my age. Strike that anachronism.

On the matter of the missing power bats: Travis Shaw would be nice right now. He's got six home runs with the Brewers so far. I know hindsight is 20-20, but he's looking like a viable third baseman after all.
He looked even better at this point last year. Let's give him a bit more time before pining too much for Travis Shaw. Maybe he's figured it out, but I'd bet on him turning into a pumpkin again.
 

dhappy42

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... And given it's only 6th of May, is there an element of panic here?
More than an element. At least three elements.

We're 29 games into the season. The first 10 games or so the team had the plague. After Moreland, Leon and Vaz unexpectedly carried the offense early, the team minus Hanley has synched their power-outage slumps. It'll change. The HRs will come. The pitching - even without Price - has been excellent overall.

My only worries are who plays third base and why has the baserunning been so bad? Of those, 3B is the biggest problem by far, but everyone knew that before the season started.

That they're 15-14 isn't big deal. [Edit:] Especially since 10 of those games have been against Baltimore, Chicago and New York. Being 4 games back in early May is no big deal.
 
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shaggydog2000

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Here are the players who have under-performed in terms of power, going by career ISO, last year's iso, and this years iso:

Xander Bogaerts .122/.152/.043
Clearly an issue, but he's gone through odd periods where he changes his batted ball profile a lot. He has power, and even in his worst MLB season he still had an ISO over .100. He seems a pretty solid bet to produce more power the rest of the year.

Dustin Pedroia .142/.131/.053
He's likely declining in power as he ages, but I'd expect something more gradual in drop-off than a cliff like that. Also seems likely to start hitting for more power, but maybe not exceeding the .120-.140 band.

Jacke Bradley Jr .169/.219/.088
His last two seasons had ISOs of .249 and .219. He has power, and he has slumps. He hasn't hit well all around so far this year, but I would expect him to produce much more power when he puts things together.

Mookie Betts .193/.216/.140
Mookie's numbers aren't even that bad, just a bit down from his last two seasons. I see no reason he shouldn't be slugging at his career average or above, so definitely room for improvement

Hanley's power is back, Moreland is right around his career average in terms of ISO, Benintendi hit for more power last year but we need more numbers to really see what he is going to be like, and we don't really know what to expect at 3B and C. Overall I am pretty confident that this is an odd fluke and the power will be there this season.
 

BaseballJones

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The optimist in me simply says, just think of how this offense will be producing when these guys all regress to the mean and start mashing.
 

BornToRun

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I'm certainly concerned but, and I fully admit I'm a rather strident optimist, I'm not quite panicking yet. As someone said in a GT a few nights ago, credit to whoever it was, there is too much talent here for us to complete fall out of the race.

My hope at this point if for us to stay afloat until things start clicking. There's legitimate power in this lineup and I think it's overly negative to suggest that every single one of these guys are just going to be this way all season long.

That said, it's incredibly frustrating to see the struggles of this team to score runs night in night out and I hope the ship rights itself sooner rather than later.
 

SMU_Sox

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I have had the good fortune of following Devers the past two+ years. I don't think he is ready to be called up. He is scalding the ball in AA but his walk rate is not even 5% and he's striking out 20% or so of the time. That's not a good rate for translation to MLB pitching. I am also not sure his defense is good enough. Devers originally was projected as coming up sometime, most likely second half, of 2018. There is no need to rush Devers and his development. I think the original plan was to keep him in AA the entire year. I wouldn't object to a promotion to AAA in June/July if he keeps this up but that's it. Quick edit: he's only 20.5 years old. Binky? Yes. Shiny binky? Oh yeah! Patience is required.
 

CoffeeNerdness

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Bradford was in the booth the other night and said Devers was a terrific fielder. Was he talking out of his ass?
 

streeter88

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RE: Devers. I go to a fair amount of Sea Dogs games and while he looks great in the aggregate right now, and minor league numbers generally do translate to some degree, you've got to remember that you simply don't see much by way of velocity or secondary pitches at the AA level.

Guys like Mookie, Benintendi (whose age and pedigree, particularly, were much different), and Moncada (whose K difficulty was really exposed in the majors) lately looked like they clearly outclassed the league. I'm not sure I can say that about Devers. He started slowly, and then got really hot last week. Three of those 5 homers came in back to back games. And, to be fair, when I first saw Rusney Castillo in AA, he looked like he outclassed the league as well, and we all know how that worked out.
Thanks TG and SMU Sox. So much better to hear from people who are actually watching his progress up close -- and from the great state of Maine no less. Looking forward to seeing Devers in September, or perhaps in 2018.

Summarising, 3B is an issue with no easy solution. But other than that, there are several players who should progress back to the mean per ShaggyDog. April was terrible, with a nasty flu bug, some ugly orange birds, and an epidemic of poor execution (baserunning, throwing and catching). And still the Sox are 16-14. May 2Bs and HRs bloom!

[edited for spelling]
 
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The Gray Eagle

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Excellent work on starting this thread. Now start one about how our third basemen have been terrible.

Wait, even better, start one about how we haven't won the World Series since 2013.
 

nvalvo

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Bradford was in the booth the other night and said Devers was a terrific fielder. Was he talking out of his ass?
I saw him a week ago and he showed good hands, but I'm with SMU. Maybe bring him up when roster's expand to let him get a sense of the atmosphere, maybe take a few PA PHing in blowouts, but give him a full season in AA, and at least half of one in AAA. He's really young.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
I saw him a week ago and he showed good hands, but I'm with SMU. Maybe bring him up when roster's expand to let him get a sense of the atmosphere, maybe take a few PA PHing in blowouts, but give him a full season in AA, and at least half of one in AAA. He's really young.
Agreed. Unless he forces the issue with a sustained stretch of insanely good play (including better K/BB numbers than he's shown so far), I don't want to see him until we're either in the playoffs, or out of them. 2018 is his year.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Worth noting that going into today's game, Redsox batters struck out 32 less times than any other team. 4 teams are within 40, all have played less games than the Redsox except Houston who has played 1 more. This team is tough to strike out. They've been hitting for more power lately but you wonder if they are sacrificing some power for contact.