We’ve started our annual Depth Chart Discussions, re-branded as Playing Time Battles for 2016. You can catch up on every team we’ve covered in the Playing Time Battles Summary post or following along using the Depth Chart Discussions tag.
A few bad contracts, delayed success for a sputtering prospect, and another Dustin Pedroia injury conspired together to sink the offense of the Boston Red Sox in 2015, leading to a disappointing 78-84 record. The Sox aren’t used to being a pedestrian offense, and that’s decidedly what they were a year ago, on an adjusted basis, ranking 13th in baseball with a weighted runs created-plus of 98 despite ranking fourth in total runs scored.
The Sox still did well getting on base despite an average walk rate, thanks in part to a .305 team batting average on balls in play and one of the league’s lowest strikeout rates. That represented a shift from the past two seasons, when they were far more true outcome-heavy, to strong results in 2013 but mediocre ones in 2014. A moderate lack of power outside of David Ortiz was somewhat unexpected, and relying on a 40-year-old in his victory lap season, however good that 40-year-old is, is a risky proposition.
With so much long-term money committed to Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, and Rusney Castillo, the Sox opted not to make an offseason splash on the lineup side. That doesn’t mean this offense won’t be better, though. Progression from several intriguing young players, the chance for veteran bounce-backs, and a better optimization of playing time will work together to make the Sox one of the most dangerous offenses in baseball once again.