By: Devin Madigan
The 2016 Red Sox could go down in history as one of the greatest offensive teams of all time.
If you’re surprised by the sentence above, you are not alone. This year’s Red Sox hitters have been punishing seemingly every baseball thrown in their general direction, and they’ve somehow been doing it relatively quietly. As a team, the Sox are scoring at an astounding rate of 5.91 runs a game, being outdone only by the Chicago Cubs, who are widely considered to be the best team in baseball, at 5.94 runs per game.
The Cubs have garnered massive amounts press as World Series favorites and offensive juggernauts, though the Red Sox have been obliterating them in offensive categories apart from runs scored per game. To start, Boston is hitting for a .297 team average, blowing away the rest of the league, with the next closest team, the Pirates, coming in at .278. The team also leads the majors in team slugging% (.485), OPS (.841), and RBI’s (198) as well as placing in the top 10 in several other key offensive categories including HR’s, SB’s, OBP, and contact%.
Though perhaps the most telling statistic of their offensive heights is that the Red Sox have not just the best WRC+ in the Majors right now, but if the season ended today, they would have the highest team WRC+ of all time at 127 (for the layman, WRC+ stands for Weight Runs Created, which measures the totality of a team’s offensive output, while the plus adjusts for ballpark factors, essentially creating an equal playing field regardless of where a team plays their games). That’s right, the 2016 Red Sox are currently on pace to have the highest total offensive output of any team in the history baseball, even beating out the legendary 1927 Murderers’ Row Yankees by whopping total of, wait for it … one.
While it is early in the season, and this current rate of production likely won’t last, it is not entirely inconceivable to believe this iteration of the Red Sox could still rank among the best ever. After clubbing the A’s in a three game sweep and taking the first of four games from the Astros the Sox have put up 11 or more runs in four straight games, the first team to do so since the 2007 Braves. Six out of nine of Boston’s regular starters are hitting above a .300 clip. David Ortiz is leading the production with a gaudy 1.074 OPS while crushing 9 dingers and driving in 30 runs. Other top contributors include young star Xander Bogaerts, leading the team with a .331 average, and late 2015 breakout Jackie Bradley Jr. who is second on the team only to David Ortiz in SLG%, HR’s, and RBI’s. Additionally, Hanley Ramirez seems to have made a concerted effort to be a more patient hitter. As a result his strikeout rate has gone up, but so has his walk rate. He has cut down almost a full three percent on his chase rate and is hitting the ball hard more frequently when he does connect. I think his progression will be the most interesting to watch unfold throughout the season along with watching Bradley to see if he can keep up the level of production that he flashed in 2015 and has displayed thus far into the 2016 season. The always reliable (when healthy) Dustin Pedroia has been doing Dustin Pedroia things, Travis Shaw has been proving to anyone willing to look why he is a legitimate MLB starter after taking the spot from the disastrous Pablo Sandoval, and Brock Holt has been keeping up as arguably the best utility player in baseball. With Mookie Betts just starting to heat up, the Red Sox and their fans should have nothing but positive thoughts in their head at this point when comes to their offense.
Just try not to think about that pitching …