What’s wrong with this offense?

Everyone has noticed a pronounced lack of runs this season. Where are the clutch hits? The home runs? We make opposing rookies and so-so pitchers look great, and we aren’t coming from behind to win as much as before. But the situation is not as bleak as it might seem. We are still ranked 5th in the AL in runs scored, at 464, though we’ve been really bad recently (13th in runs scored in June). And having a great pitching staff certainly helps.

When Theo Epstein added J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo, we were sure that there was nowhere to go but up. After all, we upgraded our hitting at two of the weaker positions in the lineup and in the field. Drew averaged a VORP of 43.8 over the past three years, injuries and all. And we thought that almost anything would be an upgrade over Alex Gonzalez at short. Lugo’s average 29.4 VORP the last three years seemed to point to that. But Drew is slugging just .385, and Lugo has a negative VORP right now. Which is to say, any free agent stiff could do what he’s doing now for the Sox at the plate. Thankfully, this season is still far from over, and these guys have some time to turn it around before it’s too late.

Many people have pointed to David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez as being part of the problem. The weird thing is, they’re not having bad seasons in most categories, just home runs. Ortiz is still hitting .320/.434/.571, even with his bum knee. And Manny is not terribly far behind at .289/.385/.480.

The fact is, we have been spoiled by great years from Papi and Manny. The last two seasons, the Red Sox have enjoyed having the top #3 and #4 hitters in the AL in terms of production. In 2006, we didn’t have great production any where in the lineup except those two spots. Yet our offense plated 820 runs, 6th in the AL. Now that they are struggling a little, things are different this year. Thankfully, whatever production was lost has been mostly recovered through Kevin Youkilis, Mike Lowell and Dustin Pedroia. With 95 HR, we are just above the league average of 92 HR at this point. But things are looking up, and this offense still has the potential to be really good. In July we’re ranked 3rd among AL offenses with 69 runs. We are hoping- no, we are demanding it to be- great.


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