Here’s the latest set of RSNStats Odds ‘n Ends, baseball news and notes, especially for Red Sox fans.
The Slugging Sox are heading to the All-Star break with a .476 team SLG. That’s the second best first-half slugging percentage for the club in over 100 seasons. The only better SLG was .493 for the first half of the 2003 season. Entering into this final weekend before the break, the Sox are batting .293 with an .836 OPS, both good for the third best marks since at least 1913. Too bad the pitching isn’t nearly as good. For the past 104 years, Boston’s first-half ERA is 4.52, among the team’s 25 highest earned run averages for the period.
- Last year the Red Sox were represented at the All-Star Game by Brock Holt. This season there will be six Sox there (the most players of any American League club), including Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts. This will mark the first time Boston will have two All-Stars age 23 or younger since Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr in 1941. Betts & Bogaerts will be joined in San Diego by David Ortiz and Jackie Bradley. Craig Kimbrel was selected by American League team manager Ned Yost (though Kimbrel’s injury this weekend will sideline him). AL players selected Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright. Seven Boston pitchers have started an All-Star game in club history, the most recent being Derek Lowe in 2002. The last Red Sox player to homer in a Midsummer Classic was Adrian Gonzalez in 2011.
- David Price hasn’t been what was expected, not yet anyway. Two of this season’s top pitchers, Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw, have each given their teams six outings with 5.0 or more innings, with 10 or more strikeouts and no more than five hits allowed. Price has done that just twice. Right behind Scherzer and Kershaw is Miami’s Jose Fernandez, with five such starts this season. As Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald recounts, Pedro Martinez has a lot of nice things to say about the two-time All-Star who, in turn, has many nice things to say about David Ortiz. Could the Sox possibly deal for Fernandez, who is now 11-4 with a 2.52 ERA over 17 starts? And if a deal could be swung, would Boston be willing part with a premier player like Jackie Bradley to make it happen?
- Last week’s embarrassing 2-21 Red Sox loss to the Angels tied for the fourth most lopsided loss in franchise history. The worst came in the first game of a doubleheader with the Indians on July 7, 1923. In that game, the Sox lost by a 24-run margin, 3-27. The Sox biggest margin of victory in club history came on June 8, 1950 when Boston outscored the Cardinals by 25 runs to win 29-4. In the club’s long history, Boston has outscored an opponent by 20 or more runs just three times.
- You won’t find too many Sox fans sad to have seen the calendar turn to July. At 10-16, Boston’s .385 win percentage in June was the 14th worst June in franchise history since 1913.
- Another week, another set of David Ortiz milestones. Ortiz now has 70 RBI, the most for any player 40 or older before the All-Star break. The fact is, Papi’s overall performance this season is downright historical and must be savored right now.
- Mookie Betts in 2016 joins Carl Yastrzemski in 1970 as the only players in Red Sox history with 15 or more steals and 15 or more home runs before the All-Star break. Betts, Mike Trout, and Ian Desmond are the only players in baseball this season to do that and hit 20+ doubles, too.
- Home runs are dramatic, for certain, but this season the Red Sox have made their offensive mark with small ball. Boston leads all of baseball for doubles and are the only team with more than 200 of them this season (213). No batter in the majors has more doubles than Big Papi (34). Coming into this weekend the Sox have the 3rd most singles in the majors (554) with no player having more than Xander Bogaerts (85). As for the long ball, the Sox are right at the MLB average with 101.
- In yet another example of their offensive might, no baseball team has more 2-strike hits this season than the Red Sox (338). Unfortunately, that kind of patience at the plate doesn’t necessarily foretell a successful year. The Sox also lead baseball in two-strike hits for 2015 (610), 2014 (566), and 2013 (613).