The three players who killed the Red Sox attack are not easy targets: Bobby Dalbeck, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Cristian Vazquez. They are hitting the bottom of the rankings for a reason.
It’s the next class of players: Kiké Hernández, Alex Verdugo and Trevor’s story. They’re supposed to be Group 1A of the Trio of Power Xander BogartsAnd Raphael Devers, and J.D. Martinez. The three buttons do their job, one way or another. Bogarts leads the team averaging (.343), Davers in Homers (four), and Martinez in RBIs (14).
The problem is that middle group, like our comrade Lou Merloni Tweet that day. Each of them has let down the Red Sox in their own way, and the resulting impact on the offense has been disastrous.
Start with Hernandez. Alex Cora raised eyebrows last year when he installed a free slingshot in his starting point, which never felt right for a man his age based on a base percentage of 0.313. However, Korra had a specific idea in her mind. During his previous stint as manager, in 2019, Andrew Benentende’s lead trial failed after about two negative months, leading to a Mookie Betts comeback.
When Cora got another crack at management, he not only wanted to maintain a balance between left and right above the rankings, but his choice to set the tone by catching fast balls. He viewed the unorthodox Hernandez as the man to get the job, and Hernandez rewarded him with 20 home blocks, a solid closing kick over the last two months, and then a post-season beast.
Unfortunately, that success didn’t carry over into 2022. Hernandez went 0 for 19 to open the season and appeared at twice his life rate. He hit .176, which necessitated a drop in rankings. Unlike some of the other names on this list, he swings most of the time on the right courts, but he doesn’t really do anything with the pitches he chases. When Hernandez is right, he hits the balls to the side of the drag, but he lifts the slow flying balls into the right field.
The Red Sox needed the return of the dynamic supper who epitomized the unexpected success of last season, but since Hernandez didn’t provide a preliminary spark, Cora made the logical decision to lift Storey with disastrous results.
Chaim Blum and the front office must claim that Storey’s struggles with his new surroundings, new job, and new home are more related than any basic physical issues, because the alternative to the $140 million man is terrifying.
The contestant season opened in Gerrit Cole’s slides and hasn’t stopped since, but that’s not really the problem. While it’s true that Story has faltered and lost nearly half of the scroll bars he’s seen, the biggest concern is that he doesn’t catch up with the fastballs. He’s only hit 0.200 against them and he’s hit more fastballs than any other stadium.
Story’s inability to handle speed helps explain why he’s so vulnerable to slipping off the board, and that hole in his swing will be tapped mercilessly until he shuts it down.
In the meantime, he kills the offense. Consistent booing was heard in Fenway After getting 1 vs 16 with 10 hits over the last four matches, that sarcasm will only intensify if he doesn’t work out. The Red Sox switched from defensive player Hunter Renfroe because they thought he would be getting a $7 million in bonus pay even after he delivered 31 homers and .816 OPS.
What makes this Story, who has yet to do Homer and hit 194?
This brings us to the hidden disappointment, Verdugo. Just like last year he had a smoking start that indicated he was about to make the leap from above average to all-star. And like last year, it’s practically over before it even started.
Verdugo’s sharp start – .333 through 10 games – I bought him a goodwill that exhausted it very quietly. Over his last 17 games, Verdugo has only hit .147 with a .317 OPS. His “average expectancy” during that time is much higher, but an eye test does not indicate that he is a victim unfortunately. Verdugo walked once and delivered one additional base stroke over that stretch, and Cora noticed he veered away from the all-field engine approach that is his most productive stretch.
In retrospect, the worst thing he could do was shoot three home rubbles in the first week of the season, because he’s been happy ever since. Verdugo is a line hitter engine with the occasional pop. When he sways in search of fences, he falls far short of them.
Since he’s one of the best players in the big leagues, his problem isn’t nuisance, but hyperactivity. For the first time in his career, he’s swinging in more than half of the pitches he sees, and that’s resulted in more grounds and fewer streaks.
The Red Sox needs Verdugo to be a table putter when he hits up front and a running producer when he hits fifth. The same dynamic applies to Hernandez and Storey. Instead, the trio made a lot of nothing.
Until that changes, the bottom of the rankings will be the least of the team’s concerns.
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