The Red Sox are paying the price for patience

Mookie Betts struggles when he sees five or more pitches.
Mookie Betts struggles when he sees five or more pitches. –AP

Prior to the Red Sox’ first sweep of the season, you could truly sense that the patience of those who have watched the team all season was wearing thin. From John Henry on down, “Bleep’’ was the adjective or placeholder for the adjective that described their play.

But you get the sense that the beleaguered GM, Ben Cherington, was pleading for patience in the hope that the bats on this team would start to turn things around in the same way that pitching has started to.

But while patience is a virtue, it is has also been defined as the art of hoping. And in this new age of baseball, patience is no longer your friend.

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Not that long ago, when Moneyball came into vogue, the Sox were ahead of the trend understanding to work the count and force the opposing starter out of the game and then beat up on the weaker middle and late-inning relievers.

This worked well against the A’s staff because they have a terrible bullpen, their 4.97 ERA is the worst in baseball.

In the three games, the A’s starters had a 4.32 ERA and a 1.740 WHIP. Pretty lousy, right? No, what’s pretty lousy was the A’s bullpen which had a 7.36 ERA and a WHIP of 2.045.

The A’s staff is the exception to the rule in today’s game where batters are hitting .258 against starters and .239 against relievers.

Teams should be in no rush to get the starter out of the game until they have beaten him up, and not just because he has thrown a lot of pitches.

And this is where the Sox mindset at the plate has been failing them.

Let’s go to the numbers:

•The average BA in the AL is .250

•The Red Sox average BA is .248

•So, the Sox are about average hitters.

•The average BA in the AL against starters is .258

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•The Red Sox average BA against starters is .264

•So, the Sox are above average hitting against starters.

•The average BA in the AL against relievers is .236

•The Red Sox average BA against relievers is .214

•The Sox have the lowest average in the AL against bullpens.

This matters so much because Boston has seen the most pitches against starters of any team in baseball at 5762.

The Red Sox are showing too much patience at the plate

The first pitch of plate appearance is a batter’s pitch.

•The average BA in the AL on 0-0 pitches is .328

•The Red Sox have the fewest PA on 0-0 pitches (195) in baseball

•The Red Sox average BA on 0-0 pitches is .303

As pitchers gain leverage in a count, batting averages diminish.

•The average BA in the AL on PA with 4 or fewer pitches is .272

•The Red Sox average BA on 0-0 pitches is .269

But, the Red Sox have the most PA with 5+ pitches (849) in baseball.

•The average BA in the AL on PA with 5+ pitches is .204

•The Red Sox average BA on PA with 5+ pitches is .208

Here are some individual numbers for Boston batters:

Brock Holt is hitting .324 when he puts the ball in play before he’s seen five pitches, and .260 when he’s seen at least five.

Hanley Ramirez is hitting .320 when he puts the ball in play before he’s seen five pitches, and .161 when he’s seen at least five.

Pablo Sandoval is hitting .265 when he puts the ball in play before he’s seen five pitches, and .206 when he’s seen at least five.

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Mike Napoli is hitting .255 when he puts the ball in play before he’s seen five pitches, and .154 when he’s seen at least five.

Blake Swihart is hitting .236 when he puts the ball in play before he’s seen five pitches, and .161 when he’s seen at least five.

Daniel Nava is hitting .186 when he puts the ball in play before he’s seen five pitches, and just .100 when he’s seen at least five.

Mookie Betts may be the prime example hitting .288 when he puts the ball in play before he’s seen five pitches, and .152 when he’s seen at least five.

There are some players who are consistent no matter what the count:

•You wish all batters could be like Dustin Pedroia who is hitting .313 when he puts the ball in play before he’s seen five pitches, and .314 when he’s seen at least five.

David Ortiz is struggling. He is hitting .220 when he puts the ball in play before he’s seen five pitches, and .206 when he’s seen at least five.

Call it what you like

Is it too much patience or lack of aggression, but the Boston bats need to get to swinging earlier and with a little more urgency and they need to do it soon or they will really find out about what happens when patience runs out.

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