12 Nov 2012
Remember when the Red Sox line-up made life difficult for the opposing pitcher? Remember? Red Sox/Yankee games would last 4+ hours because neither team gave away an at bat.
The Red Sox line-up that ended the 2012 season was not that kind of line-up. They did give away at bats and didn’t know how to battle as a whole. It is this reason I believe the Red Sox are poised to trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia away. Salty provided some nice pop last year, but his sub .300 OBP was a virtual blackhole in the line-up. With the signing of David Ross to a two-year deal yesterday, the Red Sox have the depth to move Salty.
Now while giving the catching duties to Ryan Lavarnway and Ross is a bit risky, both players will make like more difficult for opposing pitchers than will Salty. Lavarnway struggled in his call-up last year, but his minor league hitting suggests a batter who has much better plate discipline than we say in 2012.
Ben Cherington’s co-main goal this off-season should be to improve the overall OBP of this team (the other being starting pitching). While OBP is down around the league over the past few years, the Red Sox .315 team OBP was good for 21st in the Majors. 21st. The Yankees were 2nd at .337. The Red Sox had OBPs of .349 in 2011, .339 in 2010, .352 in 2019 and .358 in 2008, all good for top 4 in baseball or better.
OBPs in 2012:
Ortiz – .415
Pedroia – .347
Middlebrooks – .325
Ellsbury – .315 (it’ll be very interesting to see how Boros spins this come free agency for Ellsbury)
Ross – .326
Gonzalez (while here) .343
Crawford (while here) .306
Aviles – .282
Saltalamacchia – .288
Ciriaco – .313
Loney – .264
In fact it is amazing to see how they could have had such a poor team OBP with Ortiz getting on at a .415 clip. Wow. No matter what they did last year, the 2013 Red Sox have to get on base more. And the next batting coach(es) will play a role in that.
The Red Sox need to be hard to pitch to and need to get the starting pitcher out of the game by the 5th or 6th inning each night. Sadly, without some major moves, the Red Sox probably don’t have the horses to get this done next season, but I’ll let Cherington surprise me with his moves as he too much surely know things can’t stay the same.