Peter Fatse took over as hitting coach in Boston last December after the team severed ties with Tim Hyers, who declined an offer to return. In 2022, the Red Sox lineup featuring Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez and Trevor Story, is one of the league’s worst offenses. Entering play on Friday, they ranked tied for 22nd in slugging percentage (.347), 27th in on-base percentage (.279) and tied for 28th in wRC+ (79).
To describe the Red Sox offense in a series of one-word descriptors, it’s been disappointing, abysmal, terrible, anemic and atrocious. Let’s add one more: discouraging. Under Hyers’s guidance, the Boston offense placed fourth in wRC+ from 2018 to 2021. During the COVID-shortened 2020 season, when the team won just 24 games after trading Mookie Betts, they still finished 11th in wRC+ at 106.
The Red Sox entered the season as a team needing their pitching to survive until Chris Sale and James Paxton returned. The offense would have to pick up the slack. Boston has not hit, but their pitching staff has been superb. The bullpen has burned some saves, but the staff has been a bright spot so far in 2022. Their 10-18 record in 2022 falls on one facet of the game only: the offense.
The Boston Connection
Boston fans should be used to the struggles of new voices in the room. Look no further than the Celtics, who opened the 2021-22 season 18-21 under first-year head coach Ime Udoka. A hop, skip, and a jump later, they finish the season 51-31 and made the postseason as the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed. For most of the Celtics’ corps, they had only known one voice in Boston on the court in coach Brad Stevens.
It took time for them to buy into Udoka’s coaching philosophy. They had all of the right pieces to the puzzle, just needing to realize that they fit together. Many will point to the trade deadline as the day the tide turned for the Celtics, but they had rattled off 13 wins in their final 17 games before, including six straight leading right into the deadline. They started to click, and then made moves to complement their stars.
The point is that it takes time to round into form when listening to a new voice. While Fatse was Hyers’ assistant hitting coach the past two seasons for the Red Sox, his philosophy may not be resonating with these hitters just yet. However, there is plenty of time for Boston’s batters to “get it.” 27 games accounts for 16.7 percent of the MLB season. The Red Sox put themselves in a seemingly insurmountable hole, but climbing out is not impossible. While their actual results have them as a bottom-five offense in the league, their batted ball profile leaves them on the outskirts of the top 10. Entering Friday, they ranked 11th in average exit velocity, tied for 13th in hard-hit percentage and tied for 13th in barrel rate.
Optimism at Fenway
Should they stay the course, the Red Sox are going to break out. Perhaps that starts with being more selective or being more willing to sit offspeed when they get into hitter’s counts. Regardless, Boston fans (and the team, as well) should be patient. There is too much talent on this offense to expect them to continue underachieving for a full 162-game season.
Follow Jordan Leandre on Twitter @JordanLeandre55
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