July 20, 2023

Ohtani Taking Serious Aim At 60 Home Runs This Year

Through almost 100 games, free-agent-to-be Shohei Ohtani is hitting home runs at roughly the same pace Aaron Judge did last season when the Yankees slugger set an American League record with 62  dongs.

The 2023 Angels have played 97 games and Ohtani has hit 35 home runs. That pace would give him 58.5 home runs for the 162-game season.

When the 2022 Yankees had played 97 games, Judge had hit 37 home runs. (He had 34 through 94 games.)

Ohtani belted 15 home runs in June, with a batting line of .394/.492/.952 for a 1.444 OPS. His average this month is only .277, but he has a 1.109 OPS, thanks to a preponderance of extra-base hits (1 double, 2 triples, 5 home runs, and only 5 singles).

There are many articles about plausible landing spots for Ohtani, who turned 29 earlier this month, in either a trade this month (unlikely) or a mega-signing over the winter, and what those teams might need to offer. I have yet to see an article that mentions the Red Sox, even as a super-long-shot candidate. This ranking puts Boston #21, but all 29 non-LAA teams are mentioned. . . .Wait! Here we go!! A hypothetical trade:

Boston Red Sox: SS Marcelo Mayer, RHP Brayan Bello, 2B Nick Yorke, OF/SS Ceddanne Rafaela

Yes, seeing the Red Sox on this list is surprising. Boston is not the favorite to acquire him in a trade, let alone spend half a billion in free agency. But the Red Sox are playing well right now, entering Wednesday just 1.5 games out of a wild card spot. A staff ace like Ohtani would grease the wheels in their playoff hunt while potentially swaying him to stay put at Fenway and play for a big-market team.

So Boston would have to push an extremely strong offer in the Angels' direction, and it all starts with Mayer. The 20-year-old shortstop is a top-three prospect in baseball with an enormous ceiling as a potential five-tool player. Pair him with Yorke, who has been turning heads since he handled the jump to Double-A, and Los Angeles would be looking at a dynamic duo up the middle for several years to come. Throw in Rafaela and the Red Sox could be competitive in the Ohtani bidding while, of course, mortgaging their future for what could be just a two-month rental. But it doesn't hurt to dream.

No team should trade the farm for Ohtani unless they are at least 75-80% sure he would sign with them and avoid free agency. Boston is not a team like that and why wouldn't Ohtani go FA? Getting him would be a true shock, of course, and it would involve maybe three moving vans full of money. It won't happen, but fuck it, hoping for a miracle costs me nothing.

By the way, how many of you remember this from last year?

MLB Used Different Baseballs In 2022, And Juiced Ones Showed Up At Yankees Games
Did MLB Help Aaron Judge's Home Run Record Pursuit With A Different Baseball?
James Dator, SB Nation, December 7, 2022

A widespread study of over 200 baseballs used during the 2022 season showed massive variance, pointing to a "juiced ball," a "dead ball" an[d] a "Goldilocks ball." The study was conducted by astrophysicist Dr. Meredith Wills who does work for the Society for American Baseball Research, and aided by Insider — who published the report on Wednesday morning.

This isn't the first time there have been questions raised about using different baseballs inside a single MLB season. Dr. Wills previously found in 2019 that MLB was using a new ball, which contributed to baseball's scoring explosion. . . .

In 2021 MLB was forced to use two different ball constructions for the season due to production difficulties due to Covid-19 of the new baseballs. . . . The new and old balls were distributed at random, but it didn't mean players were happy. . . .

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred . . . admitt[ed] at the 2022 All Star game that MLB was forced to use the different balls — the first public acknowledgement of the issue from the league. At the time he assured fans that for 2022 there was no issue, and that every baseball in circulation for the season was of the new construction . . .

The Wills and Insider report shows that of the 200 baseball they tested from the 2022 season the majority were from the new "dead" ball stock, which MLB said would be every ball for the season. However, they also found instances of the old "juiced" balls, as well as a third construction which fell into the middle — and is being dubbed the "Goldilocks ball," for being the perfect mix of weight and velocity. More alarming is that there appears, at least from the initial data, to show huge inconsistencies in the ball distribution across MLB ballparks.

Wills and Insider found that 36 Goldilocks balls only appeared in four distinct situations:

Special commemorative balls used on team anniversaries (6)
All-Star week (3)
Postseason (14)
Yankees games (11)

It's that final point that's going to be the most contentious. Finding 11 baseballs is far from a smoking gun, but it is very curious that Goldilocks balls ramped up in use in Yankees home games as Aaron Judge was chasing Roger Maris' AL home run record. In August only two of the different balls were found, jumping to six in September, before dropping back off in October back to two. Judge broke the record on October 4.

I would edit the first sentence in that last paragraph to read:

. . . it is very curious that Goldilocks balls ramped up in use in Yankees home games  and only in Yankees home games  as Aaron Judge was chasing Roger Maris' AL home run record.

Manfred messes with the game, but it's always strictly "in the best interests of baseball". Hey, Bowie Kuhn, I know you died more than 16 years ago, but go fuck yourself. (Yeah, I'm still a little bitter. It's only been 47 years.)

Like everyone else with a connection to baseball, Judge has marveled at what Ohtani can do.

Records are meant to be broken. It's just a record. It'll be exciting for the game if he went out there and got 63-plus. We'll see what happens. . . . It's incredible. . . . I don't like watching it in person, when he's playing against us, doing what he's doing, but it's fun when you can turn on the TV and see that he's throwing eight innings, striking out 10 and hitting two homers in a game. . . . I tried a little toe tap like he does. . . . I haven't mastered that yet. I've still got a couple of more years.

Ohtani also has a seven-game hit streak, in which he's batting .429 (12-for-28) with four homers and eight RBIs.

Judge has not played in a game since June 3, but he still leads the MFY with 40 RBI. (The AL's RBI leader has 80 runs batted in.)

In Play, Run(s): 12 Teams Scored Ten Or More Runs This Past Tuesday

Over the next eight days, the Red Sox will play five games and have three off-days. They are idle today, will host the Mets for three games over the weekend, have a day off on Monday, play Altanta twice, and then have another day off next Thursday, before heading out to San Francisco and Seattle.

The 38-year-old Justin Turner has a current hitting streak of 15 games. It's the second-longest hit streak by a Red Sox batter age 38+, second only to Ted Williams's 17-game hitting streak in 1957. . . . However, hitting streaks at 38+ are not really a Thing.

TSW hit .533 (32-for-60) from July 23 to August 9, 1957. He had an OBP of .608 and he slugged .783 for an OPS of 1.391. He finished that season with a .388 batting average. The MVP voting that year was, umm, interestingfrom a WAR perspective.

Turner has also hit safely in 29 of his last 33 games (since June 9), batting .349, with a 1.008 OPS. Not bad for an old man.

Speaking of elderly gentlemen, Nomar Garciaparra will turn 50 years old this weekend (Sunday, July 23).

MLB teams scored a shitload of runs this past Tuesday (July 18). In fact, it was the first time in major league history that 12 different teams scored 10 or more runs in a game. (OptaSTATS pointed out that 12 teams (in three leagues) did that on May 30, 1884 and 13 teams did it on July 4, 1894, but "each of those involved team(s) doing so in both ends of a doubleheader (so fewer than 12 distinct teams were involved)".)

Diamondbacks 16, Atlanta 13
Mets 11, White Sox 10
Royals 11, Tigers 10
Giants, 11, Reds 10
Twins 10, Mariners 3
Cubs 17, Nationals 3
Dodgers 10, Orioles 3
Guardians 10, Pirates 1

(The Padres just missed the cut, with nine runs. Boston was shutout by Oakland 3-0.)

There were four games in which both teams scored in double digits, tying a record with two dates during the same week of 1894 (July 4 and July 9). That season was the second year in which the pitching mound was 60 feet, six inches, from the plate. Also, an average team in 1894 scored 7.38 runs per game as opposed to only 4.6 runs in 2023.

The 16-13 slugfest between the Diamondbacks and Atlanta was the first game in which both teams scored 13+ runs through the first eight innings since the Yankees beat the Red Sox 17-13 in London on June 29, 2019, a nutty affair in which both teams scored six runs in the first inning.

OptaSTATS tweeted that last Tuesday, for the first time in major league history, five players had 2+ home runs and 5+ RBI in a game: Wilmer Flores (Giants), Josh Naylor (Guardians), Austin Riley (Atlanta), Spencer Torkelson (Tigers), and Christian Walker (Diamondbacks). 

Other Fun Stuff In July From OptaSTATS

July 1-2

Mookie Betts' 4th-inning groundout for the Dodgers tonight snapped his streak of 15 consecutive plate appearances without having a hitless at-bat (he went 7-for-7 with 6 BB & 2 SF during that stretch). That's tied for the longest streak by any MLB player in the last 50 years.

MLB, Most Consecutive PA without a Hitless AB - Last 50 Seasons
15 - Pedro Guerrero, Dodgers, July 23-27, 1985
15 - Frank Thomas, White Sox, May 16-20, 1997
15 - Barry Bonds, Giants, August 31-September 4, 1998
15 - John Olerud, Mets, September 16-22, 1998
15 - Mookie Betts, Dodgers, June 28-July 1, 2023

A string of 15 plate appearances by Mookie Betts:
home run 
sacrifice fly
home run
home run
sacrifice fly

July 3

Homers for [Atlanta]:
56 in their last 21 games
54 in their last 20
53 in their last 19
52 in their last 18
50 in their last 17
47 in their last 16
46 in their last 15
43 in their last 14
All of those are the most or tied for the most over a span of that length in MLB history

July 4

The Tigers are the only MLB team to strike out 12+ batters while allowing 2 or fewer hits and 0 earned runs and yet lose the game (since earned runs became an official stat in 1913). MLB teams had been a combined 319-0-1 when putting up those numbers over that time (reg & post).

Today marks the 13th consecutive game that Ronald Acuña Jr. of [Atlanta] has either hit a home run or stolen a base. That's the longest streak by any MLB player in the modern era, surpassing the 12 straight by Oakland's Bert Campaneris in 1969 (entirely on stolen bases).

July 5

The Cincinnati Reds completed their 31st comeback win in their 87th game this year. In the last 50 seasons, only two MLB teams have had more comeback wins in their first 87 games of a season, the 2004 New York Yankees and the 1999 Cleveland[s], both with 34. [JoS: So many comebacks for the 2004 Yankees, yet when they really needed one, they choked.]

Yesterday, Reds Elly De La Cruz and Spencer Steer became the first pair of rookie teammates in MLB history to both go 4-for-4 or better and drive in a run in the same game.

July 7

MLB players with at least a dozen XBH, a dozen walks, a dozen runs & a dozen RBI in a 10-game span (since RBI became official in 1920):
Babe Ruth (1921)
Rogers Hornsby (1928)
Mel Ott (1929)
Lou Gehrig (1935)
Vic Wertz (1950)
Ted Williams (1950, 1951)
Mookie Betts (2023)

Francisco Lindor of the Mets is the only MLB player in the modern era to have 8+ hits, multiple triples, multiple homers and multiple steals over a 2-game span.

July 8

The Tigers are the second team in MLB history to allow at least a dozen runs in one game and then no-hit that same team in their very next game. The other was the 1893 Baltimore Orioles, who allowed 14 runs to Washington on August 15 before Bill Hawke no-hit them the next day.

Lowest ERA over an MLB pitcher's first 8 career starts with a specific starting catcher (since ERA became official in 1913):
0.47 - Nolan Ryan with Mark Bailey (1984 Astros)
0.47 - Ervin Santana with Jason Castro (2017 Twins)
0.56 - Blake Snell with Gary Sánchez (2023 Padres)

Elly De La Cruz of the Reds is the only MLB player in the last 50 years to steal second, third and home all with the same batter at the plate.

July 9

Prior to Elly De La Cruz, the last time an MLB player stole 2nd/3rd/home with the same batter at the plate was on July 14, 1915, when the A's allowed White Sox pitcher Red Faber to steal his way home uninhibited as a stall tactic with the game not yet official & a storm brewing. [Is "uninhibited" supposed to be unimpeded?]

Tarik Skubal of the Tigers is the second pitcher in the modern era to throw 5+ strikeouts and allow zero runs in each of his first two starts of the season while also having his team lose both starts. He joins Derek Lowe, who did so in 2001 with the Red Sox.

July 14

Bo and Josh Naylor of the Guardians are the first pair of brothers in MLB history to hit multi-run homers for the same team in the same inning.

Over the last 2 games, Brewers pitchers have struck out 32 Reds batters [14-18] while allowing 0 runs. That's the most strikeouts without allowing a run by any MLB team over a 2-game span in the modern era.

July 15

The Brewers are the first team in MLB history to record 3 straight shutouts while striking out at least a dozen batters in each. [K: 14-18-12]

The Angels are the first MLB team to face a 6+ run deficit in the 7th inning or later, erase that deficit, then fall behind again by 3+ runs and yet still win the game since the Phillies did so against the Pirates on September 16, 1930.

Today marks the only time in the modern era that 4 different MLB pitchers struck out 10+ batters but had their team lose the game on the same day (Alec Marsh, Johan Oviedo, Spencer Strider, Framber Valdez).

July 17

Nick Pivetta of the Red Sox is the only MLB pitcher in the modern era (starter or reliever) to strike out at least 65% of the batters he faced in a game while allowing no hits (min. 20 batters faced).

The Guardians are the only MLB team in the live-ball era (since 1920) to go 9-up, 9-down without getting the ball out of the infield through 3 innings but then score a run in every inning after that.

July 18

Tyler Wells has allowed exactly two earned runs in each of his last seven starts. The last pitcher to allow the exact same amount of earned runs in 8 consecutive starts (min. 5.0 innings each start) was Cleveland's Jim Bagby with zero from June 16-July 16, 1917.

July 20

Since the beginning of the 2018 season, the Rays are 32-9 (.780) at home against the Orioles. That is the best home record for any club against a single divisional opponent over the last six seasons.

Special Shohei Ohtani Edition

July 3

Shohei Ohtani is the second MLB player to have 30+ home runs and 5+ triples prior to the All-Star break. The other player to do so was Willie Mays in 1954. [JoS: The date on which each season begins is not the same; that affects how many games players can play before the ASG.]

July 8

Tonight marks the sixth time this season Shohei Ohtani has finished one hit shy of the cycle. That's tied for the most such games before the All-Star break in MLB history, along with Hall of Famers Duke Snider (1954), Willie Stargell (1975) and Rod Carew (1977). [Ibid.]

July 17

Shohei Ohtani has hit as many HR in the 7th inning or later over his last 28 games (12) as any other MLB player has hit total during that time (since June 12). That's the most HR in the 7th inning or later over a span of 28 games in MLB history.

July 19

Shohei Ohtani has now scored at least one run in eight straight games (min. 1 PA), his third such streak of at least eight games this season. The only player with more eight-game streaks with at least a run scored in the same season in the Modern Era is Babe Ruth (4 in 1921).

July 18, 2023

Nick Pivetta Is Sixth Relief Pitcher (& First Red Sock) In History To Strikeout 13+ Batters

Nick Pivetta threw six no-hit innings out of the bullpen on Monday night, setting a Red Sox record with 13 strikeouts by a relief pitcher

Since 1900, only five other relief pitchers have recorded 13 or more strikeouts in a game. In those 124 years, Pivetta is the only one who also did not allow a hit.

Rube Marquard, May 13, 1911:     8.0-12-5-3-14
Walter Johnson, July 25, 1913: 11.1- 7-2-2-15
Billy O'Dell, July 4, 1961: 9.0- 2-1-1-13
Denny McLain, June 15, 1965: 6.2- 6-2-2-14
Randy Johnson, July 18, 2001: 7.0- 1-0-1-16 Nick Pivetta, July 17, 2023: 6.0- 0-0-2-13

Pivetta struck out 13 of the 20 batters he faced (65%), including seven in a row at one point. Only Randy Johnson, who fanned 16 of 23 batters (69.6%) had a higher K rate.

The old Red Sox record for strikeouts by a reliever was 12, by Diego Segui (7.2-9-4-3-12) on September 22, 1974. Dick Radatz struck out 11 in 8.2 innings on June 11, 1963Two days earlier, he had struck out 10 in six innings.

Sandwiching Pivetta were Brennan Bernardino and Chris Martin. The trio allowed only one hit to the Athletics  it came with one out in the first inning  and combined for 18 strikeouts. The Red Sox won 7-0, with Connor Wong racking up three hits and three RBIs.

Since June 30, the Red Sox have the best record (11-2), most runs scored (84), and best run differential (+33) in the majors. They have also had 10+ hits in 10 of their last 12 games, batting .312 as a team.

The Yankees are in last place in the AL East.

No. They cannot.

July 17, 2023

Schadenfreude 342 (A Continuing Series)
Schadenfreude Time Machine: June 17-19, 1977

Red Sox pitchers Nick Pivetta and James Paxton were credited with the wins in consecutive games against the Athletics on July 7 and 8.

Pivetta and Paxton – both born in the Canadian province of British Columbia (Pivetta in Victoria, Paxton in Ladner) – were the first Canadians to win consecutive games for the Red Sox since Reggie Cleveland and Fergie Jenkins, way back on June 18-19, 1977 against the Yankees.

Pivetta pitched the middle five innings of Boston's 7-3 win on Friday, July 7. Paxton started and went six innings the next day, as the Red Sox romped 10-3.

Cleveland (born Swift Current, Saskatchewan*) and Jenkins (born Chatham, Ontario) did their thing during one of the Red Sox's all-time greatest series against the Yankees. (Also: Pivetta's 413.2 innings are the most by a Canadian-born Red Sox pitcher since Cleveland's 752.2 innings 1974-78.)

Let's go back to that mid-June 1977 series.

*: Your correspondent was 13 years old; summer vacation had just begun and he would start high school in the fall. And 28 years later, he would find himself spending the night in Swift Current as part of cross-country drive to resettle on the west coast of Canada.

Bill Lee faced the Brownshirts in the first game, Friday night, June 17. Catfish Hunter was the Yankees' starter – for maybe 15-20 minutes. Rick Burleson led off the bottom of the first with a home run into the screen atop the left field wall. Fred Lynn followed with a home run deep into the  right-field bleachers. Hunter got two outs, but he wouldn't get the third. Carlton Fisk crushed a home run over everything in left. George Scott also crushed a home run over everything in left. Hunter was then sent to the showers  after throwing only 29 pitches (did he even break a sweat?), forced to walk off the field as the jeers of more than 34,000 Red Sox fans throbbed in his ears.

New York tied the game 4-4 in the third inning, but Boston got single runs in the fifth and sixth, and Yaz and Fisk went deep in the seventh. The Red Sox won 9-4, as Mickey Rivers of the Yankees donned a batting helmet in center field as protection from the flying chunks of metal and glass coming out of the bleachers. Ahhh, the '70s!

Cleveland started on Saturday afternoon, June 18. (I am not sure if all three games were on TV, but I know this one was.) The crowd at Fenway was reportedly the largest in 20 years; the temperature was 90 degrees. The Yankees got two runs in the first, but Yaz clubbed a three-run dong off Mike Torrez in the bottom half to give Boston a 3-2 lead. After a walk, single, and an error, Torrez got a double play to avoid further damage.

Things remained quiet until the fourth. Bernie Carbo homered. Butch Hobson singled and Denny Doyle tripled. After Doyle scored on Lynn's sac fly, Rice was HBP and Yaz singled, but Torrez again escaped additional trouble.

Carbo homered again in the fifth and Scott went deep to center off Sparky Lyle in the seventh (his MLB-best 17th of the year), but it was the inning in between that was the most interesting.

With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Lynn singled and Rice broke his bat on a hit into right field. Reggie Jackson was extremely slow to charge the ball (something the Yankee announcers said was a common practice that year). Rice hustled into second for a double with Lynn advancing to third. New York manager Billy Martin was furious. Suddenly, Paul Blair was jogging out to right field. Reggie was confused, then realized Martin was publicly embarrassing him – and on national television – by pulling him from the game mid-inning. When Reggie got to the dugout, he opened his arms, as if to say, "What did I do?" It was a scene famously echoed many years later by Alex Rodriguez, standing at second base, in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS. It was an open question whether Martin or Jackson (or both) might begin throwing punches. It was fucking awesome.

Yaz hit another homer in the eighth. Final score: Red Sox 10-4.

Reggie had been "a center of friction" on the team for weeks, refusing to shake his teammates' hands after hitting a key home run in May and dealing with the turmoil from an interview in Sport magazine in which he said "derogatory things" about Thurman Munson, asserting that of all the good players on the Yankees, he was "the straw that stirred the drink" (which remains, quite honestly, an amazing quote).

Jackson screamed at Martin in the dugout: "You never liked me." . . . And later was sipping white wine.

That night he spoke privately to a reporter (reportedly, "every other word [was] an expletive" in the original (where's the tape?)):
It makes me cry, the way they treat me on this team. The Yankee pinstripes are Ruth and Gehrig and DiMaggio and Mantle. I'm just a black man to them who doesn't know how to be subservient. I'm a big black man with an IQ of 160 making $700,000 a year and they treat me like dirt. They've never had anyone like me on their team before.
Reggie was very determined never to miss an opportunity to tout his (alleged) high intelligence or his salary. When told Reggie had an IQ of 160, Mickey Rivers said: "Out of what, a thousand? He can't even spell IQ."

Jenkins got the ball on Sunday, June 19, and pitched a complete game, allowing only three hits and one unearned run. Boston toyed with starter Ed Figueroa (13 baserunners in 4.1 innings) and reliever Dick Tidrow, who allowed four hits (all home runs) in two innings. (Yankees radio broadcast)

The Red Sox did not score in the first two innings – the Yankeed actually led 1-0! – but they got runs in every inning afterwards. Diminutive Denny Doyle donged in the fourth for three runs, part of Boston's busy inning that included three hits, three walks, a stolen base, and a Reggie error! (SI: "When Doyle returned to the dugout, Yaz refused to shake his hand, saying, 'Are you kidding?'")

The Red Sox led 7-1 when they closed out the three-game whipping by taking batting practice against Tidrow. Carbo homered in the seventh and Rice, Yaz, and Scott hit bombs in the eighth, for an 11-1 win.

The Red Sox set a major league record with 16 home runs in a three-game series. Then they went to Baltimore and swept four games from the Orioles, hitting nine more home runs and outscoring the Birds 25-7. It was part of a 10-game stretch (June 14-24) in which they hit a record 33 dongs. (That was also a record.) They slugged .638 and had a team OPS of 1.008. 


Jim Rice told Sports Illustrated:

We've got this standard routine in the dugout now . . . When a guy comes in after a homer, someone will ask him, "Hey, man, you get it all?" The answer's always, "Nope."

Not long after, on July 4, the Red Sox hit eight home runs in a span of four innings against the Blue Jays (then in their first season). The last seven blasts were solo shots.

5th: Scott
6th: Lynn
7th: Hobson, Carbo
8th: Lynn, Rice, Yaz, Scott

I would have devoured a book about the 1977 Red Sox  my second-favourite team, after 2004.

July 12, 2023

It's Difficult To Form A Coherent Idea About The 2023 Red Sox: Not Great, Not Terrible, Consistently Inconsistent

The Red Sox are 48-43. That would be good for a 2.5-game lead in the AL Central, but Boston plays in the AL East, so they are in last place, 9.0 GB. (They are fifth in the 10-team AL Eastral.)

The Red Sox come out of the break with a five-game winning streak and eight wins in its last nine games. Since June 14, they have the best record in the AL (15-8).

Masataka Yoshida has had multiple hits in seven consecutive games (15-for-29, .517). He and Bo Bichette of the Blue Jays lead the AL with 34 multi-hit games.

June 30: 3-for-4
July  1: 2-for-3
July  4: 2-for-4
July  5: 2-for-4
July  6: 2-for-5
July  8: 2-for-5
July  9: 2-for-4

The Red Sox's record is nine games, which four players have accomplished: Xander Bogaerts (2022), Kevin Youkilis (2007), Jim Rice (1978), and (of course) Roy Johnson (1934).

The major league record is 13 games by Rogers Hornsby in 1923. Hornsby, who hit .402 over five consecutrive seasons, also had an eight-game streak in 1920 and a nine-game streak in 1929. He's also three of the 13 players to bat over .400 since 1900.

Jeffrey "FenFan" Moon (who filled in for me during Games 1 and 2 of the 2018 ALDS), posted some mid-season thoughts in a game thread. (The numbers below do not include Sunday's game.)
With one game to play before the All-Star break, it's hard to know what to think about this year's Red Sox team, who have generally hovered around .500 for most of the first half. To quote Joe Walsh, they are Ordinary Average Guys. Just look at the team win/loss splits:

25-22 at home, 22-21 on the road
15-13 in April, 13-13 in May, and 13-15 in June
17-15 in day games, 30-28 in night games
3-3 in extra innings
12-14 in one-run games
four walk-off wins against two walk-off losses

About the only splits that stand out: against American League East division rivals, Boston is 7-0 against Toronto and 5-1 against New York, but they are also 1-7 versus Tampa Bay (they are 3-3 versus Baltimore to date).

At this point, I would give them a solid C; they aren't good, but they aren't terrible. Game to game, series to series, and week to week, you just don't know what the results will be, and it's provided plenty of fodder for Boston sports media programs and traditionally finicky Red Sox fans.

Still, at four games above .500 (47-43), despite being in last place in the division, they are only two games out of a postseason position, mainly because the AL Central is so bad collectively (the current division leader, Cleveland, has two fewer wins than Boston). The team has enjoyed a strong start to the month of July, and the three series following the break will come against sub-.500 teams (the Cubs, the Athletics, and the Mets). Unfortunately, as this season has proven time and again, there are no guarantees with this club.

BB-Ref currently gives the Sox a 25.2% chance to make the postseason and only a 1.3% chance of winning the World Series and taking home the tenth championship trophy Piece of MetalTM in franchise history.

Statistically speaking, when ordered by Wins Against Replacement (WAR), BB-Ref currently shows right fielder Alex Verdugo (3.1 WAR, 119 OPS+) as the team's best player followed by pitcher Brayan Bello (2.8 WAR, 153 ERA+). After that:

James Paxton (1.9 WAR, 170 ERA+)
Jarren Durran (1.9 WAR, 135 OPS+)
Connor Wong (1.7 WAR, 87 OPS+)
Rafael Devers (1.7 WAR, 117 OPS+)
Justin Turner (1.6 WAR, 120 OPS+)
Chris Martin (1.5 WAR, 287 ERA+)
Masataka Yoshida (1.4 WAR, 131 OPS+)
Brennan Bernardino (1.0 WAR, 186 ERA+)

I'm honestly still not sold on this team. Despite the recent success, what happens when they start the second half on the road in Chicago against the Cubs and in Oakland against these same Athletics? Despite both teams being sub-.500 to this point, it would not surprise me to see Boston fall flat and lose both series. I'm not purposely being pessimistic; that's just how the first half has gone, and this team has been streaky.

Some similar thoughts from friend of the blog Matthew Kory (subscribe to Sox Outsider):

The strange saga of the 2023 Boston Red Sox continues. What is there to say about this team beyond a shrugging emoji? They win three against a good team, they lose three against a bad team. They just went 5-1 against Toronto and Texas, but before that they went 1-5 against Miami and the White Sox.

It's difficult to form a coherent and overarching idea of who this team is right now, at least for me. But there are a few different angles to look at. . . .

Part of me thinks I’m being silly. The Red Sox are a .500 team or thereabouts and they've played like a .500 team or thereabouts. They went 15-14 in April (and one March game), they were 13-13 in May, and they've gone 17-16 in June and five July games combined. Are we making this harder than it needs to be?

Well, yes, of course we are. But also, no. Anyone who obsesses over this team can see the talent. You can see how good the offense can be, how good the bullpen and rotation can be. This can be a very good team. This could be a 2021 kind of team. Get in and make a run. If Sale comes back and… . . .

Baseball is always about ifs but this is a team that has been crushed by injuries and currently sports what I'd probably call a 2.5 man five man rotation. Which is just freaking unheard of. The bizarre part is that, of the many starters Boston has had in their rotation this season, the one who has not been hurt and missed time is James Paxton. So, is there a better definition of living on borrowed time than that? . . .

Except, the Red Sox DO have a chance at the playoffs and 20 percent, while not what you want, isn't nothing. . . .  And yet, this team has three starting pitchers! Three! And one of them is a reliever! And one of them is James Paxton!! How is this ever going to turn out well? Is there a universe in which this team can somehow keep Paxton healthy through the season and through a (prospective) playoff run? Sure, Chris Sale could be back by then but A) if so, he'd only be the fourth healthy starter (generally ya need five), and B) who is to say Sale wouldn't step on a rake and trip into a well while on a rehab assignment?

Counting on Chris Sale seems more than iffy at this point. Heck, counting on James Paxton seems iffy at every point. But if you can't count on Paxton, how are you going to count on this team?

Oh, did I mention they have one healthy catcher and no healthy shortstops?

So what do you do with this?

Wait until 2024, I suppose. Signing Ohtani is going to give this team a big fucking boost.