Over the last two years, Red Sox base running has been pretty abysmal.
Take a look at our baserunning data and you’ll see just what I’m talking about. The 2017 Sox were one of the worst baserunning teams in baseball. You probably already knew that from, you know, watching them ignore stop signs at 3rd ten thousand times last season, but the numbers back it up too. Of all 30 MLB teams, only 10 had worse BRRs (BaseRunnning Runs) than the Red Sox last year. The team posted a -3.5 BRR, stuck right between Baltimore and Cleveland — though it could have been worse, as Detroit posted a -12.5 BRR.
When I was brainstorming probable culprits for the team’s underwhelming numbers on the basepaths, the usual names floated through my head. Dustin Pedroia was the worst baserunner for the Sox last year. Hanley Ramirez and Sandy Leon weren’t far off. Their struggles were definitely not Mookie Betts’ fault.
This year, the data looks a little different. After finishing as the third-best baserunner (based on BRR) on the team in 2017, JBJ shares the lowest BRR with Mitch Moreland through the first two weeks. In fact, JBJ and Moreland are the only two players on the team to have cost them a full run (-1.0). Based on that number, JBJ has been one of the worst 20 baserunners in baseball this season.
So what’s happening? To start, JBJ hasn’t done nearly as good a job of advancing on hits. After posting the third-best hit advancement runs (HAR) on the team in 2017 (0.86), he’s currently 11th (-0.25) out of the 14 qualified hitters on the Red Sox roster. What’s worse is that he’s had the second-most opportunities to advance on hits of anyone on the team so far.
It’s early. Bradley’s only gotten a handful of opportunities on the basepaths so far, and things are bound to change as numbers start to normalize over the next three or four weeks. Hell, even with JBJ not being great on advancement opportunities right now, the Red Sox are still a top-3 team in HAR right now (god bless you, Xander).
Opening the season in a slump is certainly going to play a role as well. You’re obviously not going to get a lot of chances on the bases when you’re hitting .191/.296/.255. But as is tradition, he’ll get hot, be the best hitter on the team for two weeks, and I bet his baserunning stats look just fine when that happens.
Still, they haven’t been good so far. And that’s something to keep an eye on.
Header photo by Kirby Lee — USA TODAY Sports