BOSTON (CBS) — From the day he was hired, Alex Cora preached that he wanted the 2018 Red Sox to be a lot like the defending World Series champion Houston Astros.
Cora had a front row seat on the 2017 champs, serving as their bench coach under A.J. Hinch. With this in mind, let’s take a look and compare the ‘17 Astros and the ‘18 Red Sox offensively to see how close they are, if at all.
What stuck with me from the first days of Cora as Red Sox manager was his proclamation that the Boston bats were “gonna do some damage” right out of the chute. He preached aggressiveness, and that’s one word that best describes the bats on the 2017 Houston Astros.
Houston went George Springer, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and then usually some form of Yuli Gurriel, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Josh Reddick. But the core five were the base.
This season, the Sox’ core was Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Mitch Moreland/Steve Pearce.
Let’s take a quick look at the numbers (click to enlarge):
There are some issues. I think Correa would blow the doors off of the Moreland/Pearce combo if you added the 65 games to Correa’s numbers. Plus, Hanley Ramirez was a presence in the Boston offense until he was released.
However, this shows the ’18 Red Sox offense surpassed the ’17 Astros numbers in many ways. It also backs up my thoughts that if the Red Sox are going to make a successful run, they HAVE to hit. The offense has been the team’s MVP and that has to continue in the postseason. It hasn’t happened the previous two postseasons for Boston and that is a big reason why Cora is here and John Farrell isn’t.
Houston finished second in Major League Baseball in home runs in the 2017 regular season with 238 (1.46 per game) and first in runs with 895 (5.5 per game). They continued that in the postseason by hitting 27 home runs in 18 games (1.5 per game) while scoring 78 runs (4.3 per game).
The 2018 Red Sox finished the regular season with 208 home runs (1.28 per game, ninth in MLB) and led the MLB in runs with 876 (5.4 per game). Homefield advantage should also help as the runs per game increased to 5.78 per game at Fenway while the Sox hit 1.3 home runs per game.
So, it’s clear that while Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello and the bullpen will need to be huge if we want to see a lengthy postseason run, it’s imperative that the offense continues to do what it did during the regular season.
And that’s where Alex Cora will play a key role. He said this past weekend that during the days leading up to ALDS Game 1 on Friday that the Sox will hit, hit, and hit some more. He will crank up the pitching machine to 100-105 mph to get his guys ready and to stay aggressive. It’s exactly what the Astros did last year. Cora is trying to get his group to come out swinging and attack — something Houston also did a year ago.
Sounds like a plan. Now let’s see if it works.