May 31, 2021

Red Sox, Winners Of 10 Of Last 14, Begin Four-Game Series In Houston

The Red Sox are 32-20. Only three major league teams have won more games -- and two of those three teams are over in the National League. In the NL West, to be exact. (And neither of them are the Dodgers.)

The Red Sox have the second-best team batting average (.261) in the major leagues and they begin a four-game series against the top team tonight (the Astros, .264). They are fourth in the American League in OBP (.321) and first in slugging, OPS, and total bases. Also first in doubles, by a wide margin: they have 115, the Rays have 101, and the Astros have 98.

Boston has also won 10 of their its 14 games.

There is no disagreement about the identity of the team's top three hitters:

J.D. Martinez: .328/.399/.587/.986 (171 OPS+). Martinez has been on fire with RATS (20-for-49, .408/.516/.755/1.271). With two outs and RATS, he's been 10-for-20 with a .630 OBP and a 1.100 slugging. With a man on third and two outs, JDM is 6-for-10 (2.033 OPS). After hitting nine homers in April, he's had only three dongs in May. He has six extra-base hits in May, after 19 in April.

Xander Bogaerts: .326/.387/.565/.952 (162 OPS+). However, Bogaerts has hit .216 in his past 10 games and has not had a hit since last Tuesday (he's 0-for-his-last 11).

Rafael Devers: .284/.354/.607/.961 (162 OPS+). In his last 12 games, Devers has an OPS of 1.163, with 11 of his 15 hits going for extra bases.

Alex Verdugo is hitting well (.287/.345/.461/.803 (123 OPS+), though he's shown a significant split, OPSing .889 against righties and .628 against lefties.

After that, things drop off quite a bit. No other regular is, for the season, a league average hitter. Chad Jennings of The Athletic wonders who might be the team's fifth-best hitter.

Hunter Renfroe would probably be the top candidate. He's had a solid May, batting .307 and slugging .557. He's 7-for-his-last-10, with five extra-base hits. But like Verdugo, he's got a pronounced split: .945 OPS against lefties and .610 against righties. 

The other regulars have gone cold.

Although Kiké Hernández is still usually leading off, his on-base percentage has dropped below .300. In his last seven games, he's 4-for-24, with a .231 OBP.

Christian Vázquez broke out of the gate fast (1.333 OPS in the first seven games), but then went into a 9-for-60 (.150/.190/.167) slide. Since April 13, he's batted only .211.

Christian Arroyo was hitting .364 on April 22, but has only four singles in his last 32 at-bats (.125).

Marwin Gonzalez hit .186 in April, but bounced back to post a .756 OPS in the first half of May. Since May 15, his bat has been AWOL again: 2-for-26, with a .220 OPS.

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