Sorry I have watched our team for 48 years now and even though we were probably handed the worst schedule to start the season this isn’t bad luck. Last year was a rare year that will never repeat itself with the likes of Vasquez, Nunez, Leon, JBJ, Holt, Lin, Pierce and probably even Moreland by years end killing us offensively. The bullpen is also weak which will eventually play itself out.So far, much of the bad Red Sox start has to be put down to bad luck, or random performance variance. There's no way that the team that won 108 games last year can be anywhere near this bad over a whole season. On the other hand, the Red Sox in my opinion did not assess themselves realistically after last season and failed to take some very simple steps that might have put them in much better shape for this year.
Last year's team, as I pointed out then, was a bit lucky to win 108 games--they projected to win only 103, while the Astros projected to win 109. They were good enough to finish 22 games over .500. Using Wins Above Average as I calculate it (see baseballgreatness.com if you are interested), I found that the lineup (hitting plus fielding) contributed 9 of those games (10 at bat), while the pitchers contributed 13 (which tied with both New York and Cleveland.)
Of the pitchers, Chris Sale contributed 4.7 of those WAA, a tremendous figure. He clearly doesn't look as if he is going to do that again. David Price contributed a fine 2.6 and could do it again. Then Rodriguez, Porcello, Kimbrel (RIP), Wright, Brasier, and Velazquez were all between 1-2 WAA, which is a very good situation to be in. It looks now as if the pitchers will not match last year's performance of 13 WAA but they may not be too far off of it.
As for the lineup, four full-time players contributed nearly 20 WAA: Betts (8.1), Martinez (6.6), Bogaerts (3.2), and Benintendi (2). Betts's 8.1 by the way is the highest figure for any player in the Millennial generation ever--Mike Trout has never had 8.1 WAA as I calculate it. That was wonderful, but the odds are way against him being that good again, obviously. The same is true of Martinez, for whom that performance was unprecedented, and Bogaerts, who did so well because he improved his defense. Don't get me wrong: all those guys remain big assets, but they are most unlikely to do as well this year. Benintendi had 2 WAA and could easily improve that.
The catch is--except for Steve Pearce, whose 1.1 WAA can't be taken very seriously since he played so little, those were the only significant assets on the team. Devers was average overall last year--he could improve a bit, certianly. Jackie Bradley was a full game below average. The combined first basemen (including Pearce) were average. The combined second basemen plus Brock Holt totaled a remarkable -5.9 below average. The three catchers totaled -4.7 below average. (Leon and Vazquez had been much better in recent years.)
Now that should have been, in a way, good news. The easiest way to improve your team is to replace dreadful players with average ones. An average catcher or an average second baseman would have helped the team this year as much as adding a new superstar. But the team did nothing to strengthen its catching and counted on Pedroia's return, apparently, to help at second base. It doesn't look like that strategy will pay off.
I still expect the team to win over 90 games and at least contend for a wild card but there was never any reason to think they would win anywhere near 108 games.
We may too be strapped financially thanks to very bad signings by past and our present GM.