The offense that powered the Boston Red Sox a year ago remains relatively unchanged – except for one Mr. Big Papi.
The Red Sox have struggled to score runs this season, at times in alarming fashion. And although it’s unsurprising that the team is feeling the effects of being without one of the game’s purest hitters, few expected Boston’s offense to dry up this much.
In the team’s first 21 games this year, the club has managed only 80 runs heading into Friday’s game (3.08 per nine innings). In comparison, thanks to the aforementioned David Ortiz and a blazing start, the Red Sox scored 211 runs spread out through the team’s first 21 games in 2016, which measures up to 10 runs per nine innings.
Although the loss of Ortiz can be attributed to the team’s offensive woes, several key members of the roster simply aren’t producing up to their capabilities. With the team expected to compete for a World Series in 2017, the Red Sox could explore a few options to help bolster their offensive pedigree.
Mike Moustakas, Royals
Boston’s outfield is set, barring injury, so don’t expect a change there with Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Mookie Betts on patrol. One area Dave Dombrowski could look at for upgrades now and come July is third base with Pablo Sandoval and Brock Holt on the disabled list.
Moustakas is one of several Royals expected to be moved this year. Helping his value is a very team friendly $8.7-million salary. Moose had his 2016 cut short due to a knee injury but offers a ton of home-run upside and terrific defensive play at the hot corner. He’d be an instant fan favorite in Boston. And as a left-handed hitter, he’d fare extremely well at Fenway Park.
Todd Frazier, White Sox
Nothing materialized, but that still doesn’t mean Frazier won’t change his colored socks in the future. Like Moustakas, the 31-year-old slugger will be a free agent at season’s end and will earn $12 million this year. He’s an extreme fly-ball hitter with perpetual 30-home-run upside, so if the Red Sox are comfortable with a batting average around .230, he counts as a fit.
Frazier is a steady if unspectacular offensive producer who has averaged 31 home runs and 85 RBIs per year since 2013. With the Red Sox last in the league in home runs (11 – which ties them with Eric “God” Thames’ long-ball numbers alone) and ISO (.102), Frazier could provide a spark.
“The real” Hanley Ramirez, Red Sox
Will the real Hanley Ramirez please stand up? After a brilliant performance last year that saw the 33-year-old hit an outstanding .306/.378/.629 with 17 home runs from August to early October, Ramirez has cooled off.
There’s reason to believe this is simply a cold stretch, however, and that Ramirez will start mashing soon. No one would have predicted Mitch Moreland would be a better offensive contributor early on in the year, so expect a shift eventually. If and when this happens, the Red Sox will immediately begin to see better results.
Ramirez is a significant factor in the heart of the club’s lineup and its offense. With Big Papi dearly missed, Ramirez is being leaned on to help ease the loss. In the second half of last year, the veteran hit 22 of his 31 home runs, upping his SLG and OPS from .435/.801 to .593/.947 in the process. He’s making good contact and is only hitting .268 on balls in play, so it’s only a matter of time before the ball starts sailing out of the park.