BOSTON (CBS) — The All-Star break is officially upon us, and the defending world-champion Boston Red Sox sit in last place in the AL East.
Obviously, it’s a fall that few saw coming.
That includes members of the Red Sox organization, many of whom will spend the upcoming four days pondering where exactly things went wrong.
Red Sox chairman Tom Werner is certainly among that group, and he told The Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham that perhaps the team’s approach to the offseason contributed to the first-to-worst turnaround this year.
“Obviously we made some mistakes and we cop to them,” Werner told Abraham. “But we didn’t expect Shane Victorino to be on the disabled list for as long as he has been. We knew that Jackie Bradley had the potential to be a superstar but his season hasn’t been as robust as we all imagined. We’re still very confident about his potential and his defense has been fantastic. But should we have gone after Nelson Cruz? I guess so.”
Cruz, 34, signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles in February. In 93 games for the O’s, Cruz is batting .287 with 28 home runs, 17 doubles and 74 RBIs. His .923 OPS ranks ninth overall in MLB and fifth in the American League.
Instead of pursuing Cruz, the Red Sox targeted catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who was designated for assignment last week. So on that note, even with the added excuses of Victorino being on the DL and Bradley being unable to hit, Werner at least accepted some blame for a team that desperately could use a power bat. It was reluctant acceptance of blame, but acceptance nonetheless
It was later in the interview when Werner missed his mark. Regarding the Red Sox’ current position in the standings, Werner said bad luck is to blame as much as anything.
“To be scientific about it, there is a disadvantage playing deep into the season like we did last year,” Werner said. “You get one less month of rest. Combine that with some World Series hangover and here we are. I can’t say it’s a collective World Series hangover but since spring training we haven’t really had the season we thought we could. John [Henry] and I talk about luck a lot and the one-run games we’re losing. We play these competitive games and we’re losing more of them.”
The Red Sox enter the break with a 17-20 record in one-run games (.459 winning percentage). Last year, the Red Sox went 21-21 in one-run games (.500 winning percentage). If this year’s team posted that same .500 record in one-run games, the Sox would have just two more wins to this point.
Where the major difference actually lies this year comes in the blowout category. In games decided by five or more runs, the Red Sox went 33-13 in 2013. This year, they’re 8-12 in those contests. In half the time, this year’s team has already gotten its doors blown off just one fewer time than last year’s team did over the course of 162.
When you remove the blowouts and the one-run games, that leaves 38 games that were decided by between two and four runs. The Red Sox are 18-20 in those games.
- An 18-20 record in games decided by 2-4 runs for a .474 winning percentage
- A 17-20 record in games decided by one run for a .459 winning percentage
- An 8-12 record in games decided by five or more runs for a .400 winning percentage
That is bad across the board, indiscriminate to any particular type of game and independent of any luck working any way.
There’s also this: The Boston Red Sox weren’t the only team to play deep into October. The St. Louis Cardinals, you might remember, played just as long. They’re currently eight games over .500, one game out of first place in the NL Central and a half-game out of a wild-card spot. The seasons of the Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Dodgers ended just 11 and 12 days earlier than Boston’s, respectively. The Tigers — despite losing their manager, losing their middle-of-the-order power bat and getting a very poor first half from their ace — are 15 games above .500, a healthy 6.5 games ahead of Kansas City for first place in the AL Central. The Dodgers are 11 games over .500, a game ahead of the Giants for first place in the NL West.
Playing deep into October hasn’t slowed down the other three teams to make the final four, so it should be no excuse for the Red Sox.
There’s also this: last year’s team went 10-6 in extra-inning games, compared to its 6-8 record this year. If so inclined, one could blame the losing record on bad luck, but a more accurate statement would simply state that Red Sox batters are having a world of trouble delivering run-producing hits when needed. The team is hitting .242 with runners in scoring position, ranked 12th out of 15 in the American League. It’s a problem that’s plagued them all season, and they head into the All-Star break having scored just 367 runs, dead last in the AL, one spot behind the Houston Astros, a team with a payroll not even one-third the size of Boston’s.
When you look at the obvious lack of run production, it’s clear to see that luck just does not enter the equation. If you can’t score runs, you can’t win baseball games. That — and that alone — is why the Red Sox are in last place.
Peter Abraham joined Toucher & Rich on Monday morning to discuss Jon Lester’s contract negotiations, Clay Buchholz’s value and the overall state of the Sox. Listen below: