close
close

Boston Red Sox vowel analysis

The Boston Red Sox season can be summarized as A, E, I, O, U: away games, mistakes, injuries, overachievers and underachievers.

Everyone loves grammar, so this Boston Red Sox analysis will use the five vowels of the English language. A is for away games because the Boston Red Sox season started far from Boston. E stands for mistakes because the Sox defense has more holes than a fence. I stands for Injuries because two players are out for the season and others have already taken a hit. O refers to Overachievers because I love good news as much as the next guy. But U stands for Under-Achievers, because while I am an optimist through and through, I am often a pessimist in the print media. Finally, we add Y as an honorary vowel: Y before Y is not written like that.

Away matches

Seattle, Oakland and then Anaheim. Ten games, about as far from Boston as you can get in Major League Baseball. Luckily, Boston made the most of their West Coast Swing and went 7-3. This became especially notable when they started their homestand at Fenway by going 0-4 in their first four games. Admittedly, I don’t know how anyone involved with the Sox could function on April 9, after the emotional pre-game ceremonies. Going 2-6 on a homestand is not a winning formula.

Either way, these two things could indicate a worrying trend. As ownership focuses more on the Fenway experience and less on the on-court product, the type of fans at games could change. In the past, Fenway has sold out every game, with some of the most ferocious fans in all of professional sports. Sometimes family friendly, but always hostile to opponents. I’m not saying that we as fans should inappropriately terrorize enemies, but opponents should know that this is our home, the Red Sox are our people and this is our city.

Hearing an Er(ror)-ful

Consider yourself warned: these error statistics are not errors. They are accurate and worrying. Through 20 games after Thursday, the Sox have committed 18 errors. These mistakes have also been extremely costly. The 26 unearned runs this season are the most in baseball. It seemed like this problem was solved, but then SS Trevor Story got injured and everything started to snowball. Losing one player is not a strong defense for their defense this year. It might be time to call up Gold Glove-winning former 2B Dustin Pedroia to whip these guys into shape.

The eighth inning against the Cleveland Guardians on April 15 is a good example of their problems. With two outs in the inning, 3B Jose Ramirez hit a solid hit. OF Wilyer Abreu pulled the ball from the right in an attempt to get out of the inning. In his haste, the pitch was off-line and another run snuck in as the Sox cleared at second. The players are well aware that their defense has been sub-par. Instead of sticking to the basics, players try to play beyond their capabilities. This has led to Little League shenanigans, instead of hero games. In terms of defense and baseball in general, KISS-Keep It Simple Sox pays off.

Injuries

One month into the season, two players are out for the season. Starting pitcher Lucas Giolito dropped out during Spring Training due to UCL surgery. Trevor Story underwent shoulder surgery that ended his season, which has been a recurring theme for him. These two are worth over $42 million combined for zero starts and 31 plate appearances. Giolito’s injury is among the scourge of injuries affecting pitchers in today’s game. The debate about the cause of this problem is becoming increasingly heated. Some claim that the pitch clock is the cause. More likely, the emphasis on speed and spin rate from Little League to the Majors is the real cause.

SP Nick Pivetta was placed on the 15-day IL and 3B Rafael Devers has missed six games due to a shoulder problem. On April 16 he left with a knee injury. Injuries are inevitable in a 162-game season. A collision between Devers and Tyler O’Neill left O’Neill on the shelf with eight stitches and placed in the concussion protocol. The problem for the Sox is that there are no good options to turn to when their primary players are injured. Boston’s depth is shallower than the famously dirty waters of the Charles River. Based on this, I have a few requests for local legend Tom Brady. One: please don’t retire. Two: bring your anti-aging avocado ice cream and training to Boston to keep these guys healthy.

Overachievers

With just over 10% of the Red Sox season complete, it’s too early to say anything about these over- or underachievers. I just couldn’t think of anything else for O or U in baseball. Outs, outfielders, umpires and unearned runs are all too boring or already covered.

That said, the top of this list has to go to OF Jarren Duran. Last season he exuded some star power and then hurt his toe. This year he was a very effective leader. Duran’s speed allows him to turn singles into doubles or quickly steal second place. Fellow outfielder, Tyler O’Neill, was also advertised. O’Neill has already hit seven home runs. Health is the only concern in both, based on previous seasons. C Reese McGuire also deserves credit for responding with 8 RBIs this year after being told in the offseason he could do more.

The unearned runs have hurt all pitchers, but despite this, some pitchers have given their best so far. Speaking of pitching, here is Rob Gronkowski’s flawless first pitch of Patriots’ Day. SPs Tanner Houck and Kutter Crawford are enjoying opposing lineups so far. Crawford’s 0.42 ERA won’t last long and the real test for him will be how he performs at the end of the season. The offseason emphasis on lower body strength is paying off so far. Houck has 28 strikeouts in four starts. I think his name should be spelled HoucKKKKKKKKKK, because of his 10-strikeout performance against the A’s on April 1. He certainly made a plethora of fools out of the A’s. Wednesday night was even better, throwing a complete game shutout in less than two hours.

Underachievers

The easy answers here are Giolito and Story, but these will be healthy players with more to give. 3B Bobby Dalbec has been heartbreakingly bad so far. Devers’ injury gave Bobby D the opportunity to earn more playing time in the future. Instead, his grade is worse than a D. Bad Luck Bobby is 0-19 this year and 0-33 going back to last season. Admittedly, expectations weren’t that high in the beginning, but this is painful to watch. Devers is also not living up to his standards. His subpar play of late could be related to shoulder problems.

This next thing is completely unfair to say, but after last season, RP Chris Martin set the bar extremely high. After allowing six earned runs in 51.1 innings last year, Martin gave up four runs in one inning this year. Again, probably a one-off bad luck, but this is more a reflection of how dominant Martin is. Ideally, this is the only time I mention him here, so I’ll help him out and keep him humble. Finally, DH Masataka Yoshida may be in the running for least effective designated hitter in baseball to date. Yoshida’s five-year, $90 million contract is a prime example of the Sox’ misallocation of funds. A .215 average and .292 slugging aren’t numbers that scream DH. Deplorable hitter perhaps, not a designated hitter.