fb-pixel Skip to main content
RED SOX NOTEBOOK

In year defined by bad pitching, clutch hitting has done in Red Sox as well

No Red Sox player has gotten more opportunities this season with runners in scoring position than J.D. Martinez's 167, and the designated hitter has batted just .227/.317/.355 in them.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The Red Sox have taken some mighty blows this season. Rarely have they delivered them. As the year winds down and a last-place finish in the American League East seems inevitable, it was clear the Sox never had much firepower.

When J.D. Martinez missed first base in the eighth inning against the Yankees on Wednesday, ultimately leading to a double play instead of a run when the Sox trailed by two, manager Alex Cora said that play reflected their season.

“Just short,” he said. “We are where we are because we’re short in certain areas, and we haven’t been able to finish games.”

Advertisement



The Sox have lacked depth and production in the starting rotation and, primarily, in the bullpen all season. Injuries, and flat-out underperformance on the offensive side, have played a role, too.

But another key piece that was missing for the Sox all season? Rafael Devers and Martinez’s inability to drive in runs when the team needed them most.

In the past, Martinez and Devers have produced runs by the boatload. This year? Not so much.Jason Miller/Getty

From 2019-2021, Devers was a .316 hitter with runners in scoring position, belting 24 homers with a .981 OPS. Last season, Devers collected 84 RBIs with runners in scoring position.

This year, Devers is down to .235. His OPS is still .813 in those situations, but he’s tallied just 46 RBIs in them. For context, during the 60-game 2020 season, Devers had 32 RBIs with runners in scoring position.

Martinez represents an even larger decline. The designated hitter registered a .339 batting average with a mind-boggling 1.022 OPS with runners in scoring position his first four seasons with the Red Sox, driving in 90 in those moments in 2018 and 75 in 2021.

This season, Martinez has driven in 42 off a .227 average and .672 OPS with runners in scoring position. The latter is his lowest since 2013 (.581), his final season with the Astros before the team released him.

Advertisement



The 2022 Sox have scored 653 runs, which ranked eighth in the majors heading into Thursday, but they’ve lost 24 one-run games. Imagine the possible difference if Martinez and Devers produced in high leverage moments like they have in the past.

Xander Bogaerts making more history

Xander Bogaerts is chasing an AL batting title, second to the Twins’ Luis Arraez (.320) with a .317 average entering Thursday. He is also just one hit away from 1,400 for his career, which will make him just the fourth Red Sox to reach 1,400 regular-season hits before turning 30. The others are in the Hall of Fame: Carl Yastrzemski, Bobby Doerr, and Jim Rice . . . The Red Sox will begin a three-game set with the Royals on Friday. The rotation is as follows: Michael Wacha vs. Jonathan Heasley, Brady Singer vs. Rich Hill, and Kris Bubic vs. Nick Pivetta.


Julian McWilliams can be reached at julian.mcwilliams@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @byJulianMack.