Boston Red Sox big hitters slumping in early season offensive struggles

Trevor Story #10 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Trevor Story #10 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox season has begun with a rather middling performance, and the team’s lineup has been struggling to get going. Fans should relax since the season’s just begun and the Sox big hitters haven’t yet gotten on track.

Yet, objectively, several offseason moves to weaken the lineup haven’t made manager Alex Cora’s job any easier. The subtraction of two solid bats and replacing them with far less capable hitters has not worked out so far.

The trade of Hunter Renfroe and the departure of Kyle Schwarber via free agency were major deletions from a team that wreaked havoc during the 2021 season. The lineup from last season helped the Sox get all the way to the American League Championship Series.

The point is, the lineup’s struggles shouldn’t be a great surprise considering two of the team’s best hitters from last season left without being truly replaced. Your offense is certainly going to suffer if you can’t replace big bats when they leave, and in Boston’s case, they weren’t.

There’s lots of time remaining, but the Boston Red Sox offseason moves are costing them

Whether the Renfroe and Schwarber moves should have been made were strongly questioned this past offseason. But now that games are being played, there’s no sense complaining about them anymore. In light of those moves, expectations for the offense should have been adjusted lower.

A lineup that includes Jackie Bradley Jr., a .163 hitter with the Milwaukee Brewers last season, ostensibly brought in to replace Renfroe’s 31 homers and 96 RBIs, is not going to achieve those same results. It’s just not going to happen.

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Bradley is predictably hitting .229 (actually a substantial increase over last season) with no homers and four RBIs in eight games. He’s not exactly tearing-up American League pitching. He could still be traded for a bat.

Yet, the argument can be made that neither is Renfroe to date for Milwaukee. He’s hitting a paltry .233 with one homer and three RBIs in 10 games.

The money should still be on Renfroe though to ultimately have a better season at the plate. And here’s the rub; Renfroe excelled in Boston in a Sox uniform. That begs the question; does the uniform and/or the atmospherics matter?

The answer here is they sure as heck do and more than one might think. First, the belief here is that if someone performs well or superbly in one locale, that player may not do the same in another. It just happens with some individuals. Why exactly that is the case is the question of the hour.

One factor is that you are forced to leave what you and your family may feel is a great place to live (that would be the Boston area), with a dreaded physical move of family, home, loss of friends, etc. Think it doesn’t matter? Think again.

There’s also that all-important comfort factor, aka “the fit”. Sometimes players just mesh with a certain city, its ballpark or arena, the fans, and all of it. It works for them there, where maybe before it just didn’t.

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Need an all-time example? That would be one David “Big Papi” Ortiz. It didn’t fit for Ortiz in Minneapolis. It could be said it sort of did in Boston. It was indeed, Big Papi’s City. He owned it and still does, lock, stock, and barrel.

Renfroe sure was solid in Boston, and the aforementioned Schwarber fit Boston like that proverbial Nappa leather glove this space likes to mention.

He’s not exactly tearing it up in Philadelphia (does anyone ever do well moving there?) batting a terrible .170, but he does have four homers and nine RBIs. The batting average will likely begin to increase shortly.

Don’t count out the Boston Red Sox just yet

The moral of those two stories lies in an old sports adage that can be cited here, it says, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. In the cases of Renfroe and Schwarber, it certainly wasn’t broke and the fixes aren’t looking too good at the moment. Yet, it’s important to keep one thing in mind.

Doubting Boston Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer on early-season results is fraught with peril. This young man is a top baseball executive. And you can take that to the bank or to the nearest ALCS if you doubt it.

Bloom will look things over, take stock, and make the moves the club will need to take off on their late-season run. Also, maybe one or two of the players currently on the shelf like Chris Sale and James Paxton will contribute. We’ll see about them.

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The team has dug itself just a small hole, but it can easily dig itself right out of it. With a strategic addition or two, it may find itself right in the thick of the American League playoff race again, and more.

Trust in Bloom to make the right moves. The offseason moves may not be working out too well thus far, but there’s still lots of time to get things right.