The Boston Red Sox come to the Bronx with a 4.5 game lead over the second place New York Yankees while riding an eight game winning streak, in large part propelled by the additions of Rafael Devers and Eduardo Nunez. The other half of the equation has been the pitching, from both the starters and the pen.
At the beginning of July, I wrote how the Sox offense should be fine, even with the dearth of home runs, as long as they continued to have a high OBP, a low K rate and and high doubles rate.
July saw the team have their first losing record of the season, finishing 13-14. In April they were 13-11 and they had a 16-12 record in both May and June. So what was the difference on offense?
In July the Sox had their worst production of the season with a slash line of just .248/.315/.367 – not something you want to write home about. The numbers in April, May, and June were .270/.334/.381, .269/.351/.440, and .259/.329/.424, respectively. They also averaged one more strike out per game in July than they had in the previous three months. Of course, a higher K rate is alright as long as you’re hitting for power, but alas, they weren’t. The most alarming number in July was the average number of doubles per game which was just 1.3. The previous low was back in April, 1.6. In May the average was 2.1. In June 1.9. Quite a big dip.
July also saw the Sox’ average for home runs per game drop to .9 from just over 1 in May and June. Not much of a difference there. Nunez and Devers have added to the home runs and doubles per game average, but no one, myself included, expects them to produce at close to the levels they have been since joining the team.
So far, in the seven games in August, the team as a whole is averaging 6.3 runs (the previous high was May at 5.7), 2.7 doubles, and 1.57 home runs per game. The team line is .288/.353/.496 for August. The 9:1 stolen base to caught stealing ratio certainly helps too. This offensive evidence leads me to stick with my conclusion back in July that the key to the Sox offense is doubles. If everything else on offense remains close to equal, this team will remain competitive and likely win more games than they lose as long as they average close to two doubles and one home run per game. Anything more is gravy.