2013 Red Sox Have Had A Flair For The Dramatic
The 2012 Red Sox were a hapless team who couldn’t win from behind. They were 17-22 in 1-run games and 2-10 in extra inning games. The turn around in clutch situations this season has been nothing short of dramatic. This year the Red Sox are 16-13in 1 run games and 8-5in extra innings. The turn around in clutch situations tells the story about how the Red Sox went from last place a season ago to holding onto a 4 game lead in the AL East on August 14th only a season later.
The Red Sox are hitting .237/.333/.373 in late and close games (Plate Appearances in the 7th or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck) which is similar to last year when they hit 236/..324/.378 in those same situations. You see the difference in the rest of the clutch stats however. In tie games the Red Sox are hitting .269/.347/.404 as compared to .254/.311/.381 last year. They are hitting .268/.337/.424 when trailing in the game as opposed to .250/.300/.306 (!) last season. Lastly they are hitting better with 2 outs this year with a .255/.345/.404 line as compared to a .243/.310/.397 line in ’12.
The new guys in the Red Sox lineup play have, unsurprisingly, played a large part in the Red Sox’ late game heroics. Jonny Gomes leads the team in OBP (.446), Slugging % (.604) and RBI (10) in late and close games and is second on the team in average (.292). Shane Victorino has a healthy .275/.321/.387 line with 9 RBI. Mike Napoli is only hitting .186 in late and close games but has a .314 OBP, a .356 SLG and 9 RBI of his own. Stephen Drew is at .234/.306/.375 with 8 RBI. A couple lineup mainstays have helped the club with dramatically improved performance in this category from last year as well. David Ortiz has gone from a .237/.392/.289 line with 2 RBI in 2012 to a .271/.386/.441 line with 9 RBI. Jacoby Ellsbury has seen a greater improvement, bettering his average by 80 points (.213 to a team leading .293). He’s also spiked in OBP (.288 to .361), SLG (.255 to .360) and RBI (3 to 8).
Take a quick look at the pitching stats and you see a similar change. The Red Sox pitching staff last year gave up a line of .268/.338/.418 to opposing offenses in late in close games as compared to this year’s line of .230/.301/.400 (still too many late game home runs). Sox pitchers had a total of 189 strikeouts in late and close games all season last year. This year, through August 15th, they already have 193.
Put all these numbers together and you get a team that knows how to win late in ball games. It’s no surprise that the Sox have already almost tripled their walk-off win total from a year ago (11 to 3). They also are tied for the American League lead in extra inning wins (8) and last at-bat wins (19). Some people might say that this is not a team that can go deep in the playoffs but with the bullpens the way they are around the league this season a flair for the dramatic may be exactly what you need to make it far in the tournament. So far this season the Red Sox have shown that they have that flair in spades.