Good teams get good play from their stars, great teams get great play from their stars.
This is where the Red Sox stand just over two months into the season and leading the American League East. But, as the All-Star break approaches in a little over a month this is when things start to ramp up and teams separate themselves from their competition. It's during this time that superstars on contending teams take their play to another level and for the Red Sox it needs to be the guys in the heart of their lineup – Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli. With Jacoby Ellsbury, Jonny Gomes, Daniel Nava and Shane Victorino manning the top of the order they are sure to give the No. 3, 4 and 5 hitters plenty of opportunities to drive them in.
“We continually create many opportunities to score. Repeatedly we have multiple men on base and we are doing a great job of that and yet sometimes that two-out base hit or RBI hit is a little elusive, but we are doing a great job of putting ourselves in that position,” said manager John Farrell over the weekend.
Ortiz and Napoli need to pick it up a notch when hitting with runners on base, particularly with runners in scoring position. For the year, as of Sunday, Pedroia is hitting .333 and Ortiz .339, with Napoli well behind at .263 in that situation. Things haven’t gone as well of late for all three. Over the past 20 games the trio is hitting a combined .260 with runners in scoring position as of Sunday. Pedroia is 9-for-28 (.321), Ortiz is 7-for-27 (.259) and Napoli is 4-for-20 (.200). While this isn’t terrible, these are the three best hitters on the team and they need to be better in this situation if the Sox want to continue to sit atop the division standings.
In losses a common thread has been the Sox' inability to hit with runners in scoring position. As of two weeks ago the team was hitting just .177 with runners in scoring position compared to .373 in wins, and that hasn’t changed much over the past two weeks.
The Red Sox power hitters can hit the way they have and likely become average as a team looking up at teams in the standings, or their power hitters can take control and hit when it matters most. We’ll find out in the coming weeks what kind of stars the Red Sox have – good or great.
Follow Metro Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84