Against 25 percent of pitchers, the Boston Red Sox are one of the best offensive teams in baseball.
Prior to the All-Star break, the Red Sox owned a .358 on-base percentage and .791 OPS against left-handed pitchers which ranked first and sixth in the MLB respectively. In contrast, their .751 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) ranked 15th in MLB which technically would be below-average because A. they play in the American League where there’s DHs and B. they play their home games at Fenway Park, a big-time hitter’s park. Yet… their lineup could use some help against lefties.
Their stats against lefties are good. Yes. But that’s because they have a few guys who crush lefties like Deven Marrero, Jackie Bradley Jr., Sam Travis, Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez (lately), and Mookie Betts. One could argue their lineup jis a little less balanced against lefties and the reason for their powess has been a handful of excellend players while they do have some stragglers.
Specifically, Mitch Moreland (.222 batting average, 0 HR, .600 OPS) and Andrew Benintendi (.256 batting average, 0 HR, .636 OPS) have not really been too productive against righties this year–and that should not be a surprise. Benintendi drew Michael Conforto comparisons and he too struggled to hit lefties early in his career and Moreland’s career splits indicated he could struggle against lefties too. In order to improve the lineup, perhaps the Red Sox should consider sitting them a little more often against lefties.
After all, first baseman Sam Travis, who has hit left-handed pitching really well in a small MLB sampling (.385 batting average, .967 OPS in 26 at-bats) was brought up to help Moreland rest and to start against lefties, but he has not started a game since July 3. Not even since America turned 241.
Maybe the answer to Benintendi is playing Chris Young a little more against lefties despite his splits favoring righties this year. Why? Because he’s a .226 hitter in his career against righties and a .266 hitter with a .364 on-base pcerntage and .837 OPS against lefties.
Plus, Bryce Brentz, who won the Triple-A home run derby, has been on a tear in Pawtucket since early June and he is hitting .283 with five home runs, a .419 on-base percentage and .986 OPS in 60 at-bats against lefites on the year. Maybe that right-handed pop could help spark the Red Sox lineup when September call-ups come around. Even if he’s not on the 40-man roster right now, Henry Owens is — and he’s not throwing strikes in AA. Easy DFA candidate.