After a disastrous 2012 season, the Boston Red Sox went from worst to first in 2013 by winning their eighth World Series championship and third in the last decade. However, the Red Sox have been unable to replicate that same success in the 2014 MLB season and now sit in last place of the American League East with a 43-52 record at the halfway point. Due to an excess of injuries and poor performances, Boston has been the biggest disappointment in baseball this season.
One of the big reasons for the Red Sox’ struggles this season has been the lack of offense compared to last season’s outstanding offensive numbers. The Red Sox are at the bottom of the AL in runs scored, runs batted in and slugging percentage. In addition, the Red Sox have the third-lowest number of home runs and batting average in the AL. On the other hand, Boston is doing a great job at leaving guys on base and striking out.
Core guys like designated hitter David Ortiz, second baseman Dustin Pedroia and outfielder Daniel Nava have not been putting up their usual strong offensive numbers, while outfielder Shane Victorino and third baseman Will Middlebrooks have only played a handful of games this season because of injuries.
Another part of the reason for their offensive struggles this season is that many of Boston’s roster moves have not panned out as expected. The Red Sox let Jacoby Ellsbury leave to join the New York Yankees in the offseason, and the replacements for Ellsbury have simply not worked out. Grady Sizemore was the Opening Day center fielder, but he was cut before the calendar turned to July. Since then, Jackie Bradley Jr. has become the center fielder and has not been able to produce much offensively. Also, Boston let Jarrod Saltalamacchia walk to the Miami Marlins in order to bring in veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski. In case you have not heard, Pierzynski was putting up career-low numbers this season until he was released by Boston this week.
Fortunately for Boston, the pitching staff and bullpen have been good this season. The Red Sox’ pitching staff ranks third in the AL in innings pitched (863), second in the AL in quality starts (56) and fifth in the AL in strikeouts (775). All-Star Jon Lester, who is 9-7 this season, ranks sixth in the AL in ERA (2.65), sixth in the AL in innings pitched (129), seventh in the AL in strikeouts (134) and 10th in the AL in WHIP (1.14). Veteran John Lackey has also been having a nice season, as he ranks seventh in the AL in wins with 10.
Boston is only 9.5 games back of the division-leading Baltimore Orioles, so not all hope is lost yet for Red Sox fans. However, what makes Boston the biggest disappointment in baseball this season is because the Red Sox have gone from champions to worst in such a short time span. Almost no one saw Boston having this bad of a season after winning the Fall Classic last season.
Most people believe the Red Sox will be sellers at the trade deadline, but that will be officially determined based on how Boston comes out of the All-Star break. If the Red Sox do become buyers, look for Boston to go out and get a few bats to help bolster their weak offense. If Boston becomes sellers at the deadline, look for the Red Sox to possibly move expiring contracts like pitcher Jake Peavy, outfielder Jonny Gomes and closer Koji Uehara to contenders. These next two weeks will decide whether the Red Sox want to make a run at the postseason or begin building for the future.