Since the end of Manny Ramirez run with the Red Sox the team has been in flux with regards to building a lineup that is a solid mix of power and great all around hitting. It was always great to see the lineup rotate around two 40 home run hitters, but it’s not easy to find those guys and sign them to long term contracts. The Red Sox were the envy of many in those days with a power hitting elite three-four hitting combination of Ramirez and David Ortiz. They had a similar build to the rotation with Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling leading them to great success.
As that group departed it became clear that the front office wanted to fill the lineup with more well rounded hitters who got on base and hit for good pop, but they let many of the 40 home run hitters pass. It didn’t hurt them in 2013, but perhaps the lack of a big threat has been a hinderance in the seasons around that magical 2013 run.
That’s not to say the 2013 team didn’t hit for power as they totaled 178 home runs that year, but it was a team effort as only David Ortiz hit 30 homers or more and only Mike Napoli hit more than 20 home runs. That said the 2013 Red Sox hit the sixth most home runs in baseball that year. This 2016 Red Sox team has not been as balanced and has largely been powerless when it come to home runs. They have 21 home runs as a team for 23rd place in baseball.
That sounds pretty bad and it has cut into the teams run total slightly to be sure, but that isn’t to say the team hasn’t hit for power. Through 25 games the Red Sox have a team SLG of .452 which ranks sixth in baseball and first in the American League. When you switch to wOBA which looks at overall hitting ability the Red Sox are at .346 which is third in all of baseball.
The 2016 Boston Red Sox are the dream of Money Ball even though Dave Dombroski would not be what one imagines when it comes to a Money Ball GM. This appears to be the culmination of the work of Theo Epstein and Ben Cherington. A team built with a great eye, great contact skills and solid power to all fields. Not necessarily just home run power but power and speed to build leads through doubles and triples.
It’s very early this season and one or two streaks by Ortiz and perhaps Hanley Ramirez could suddenly push the Red Sox up the home run chart, but the great news is so far they haven’t needed it. Scoring the fifth most runs in baseball with solid hitting and solid base running (outside of #HustleHanley) the Red Sox appear to remind us that home runs are not everything.