Oh boy. I’m not even sure where to start. The first few weeks of the 2019 Red Sox season have been about as miserable as anyone could’ve imagined, maybe even worse. The offense and pitching can never seem to line up to perform in sync on the same nights. The Rays seem to be pulling further and further away in the division. But, I digress. Things have to get better, don’t they?
There is just no plausible way that things are this bad. Clearly the rotation has been a glaring issue, but lately the starts have been better (Rodriguez vs. Baltimore, Price vs. Baltimore, Eovaldi vs. NYY.) The bullpen has had some issues, most notably last night in the Bronx, but for the most part it has been better than expected. So that brings us to the shoddy offense, and to the one element that I can see truly jump starting this team.
Obviously this isn’t a hot take. The Red Sox need their best player to play better? Shocking, I know. However, it is deeper than just that. Mookie Betts is not only the best hitter in this lineup, but hitting where he does in the lineup, he is the table-setter.
A role long held by Dustin Pedroia, his job isn’t always to hit the ball 500 feet, but rather to get the ball rolling for the rest of the lineup. Mookie might be better than Pedey ever was, which is why he is so important to the success of this team.
The 2018 Red Sox were so successful because of their approach. Mookie would come up, leading off the first inning, and almost every single time, he would come out swinging. It was this offensive approach the led to him hitting .346 and being the American League’s Most Valuable Player. It was this offensive approach that led to him becoming one of the most feared pure hitters in baseball.
So where has it gone?
Mookie is in maybe the worst funk of his career. He looks absolutely lost at the plate, and just cannot seem to get himself going. Even when he’s been getting pitches to hit, vintage Mookie meatballs, he hasn’t connected.
Through his first 78 plate appearances he’s hitting just .212, a number that has never been associated with Betts at any point of his professional career.
It’s only a matter of time before he turns it around. He is way too good a hitter to not figure it out. He is getting the same pitches to hit as he did last year, he just has to be more careful on which he chooses to swing at.
Getting their top hitter back to premier form will be huge for Boston. As soon as we see Mookie’s average crawl back up towards .300 like it inevitably will, the team’s success shouldn’t be far behind.