Is the Red Sox offense under-performing?
One of the things floating about in the currently rarefied air of Red Sox Nation is the notion of the offense improving when "everyone starts hitting." Even the invaluable David Pinto gets into the act this morning: "When Manny and Drew start hitting, I expect the team to get better."
Here's the thing - if you look at what they've done as a team, I really don't think that there's a lot more to expect. I think that they'll score a little more than they have so far, but not a lot. They're on a pace right now to score 877 runs. How many more do people really expect?
And while there are players (Ramirez, Drew) who are going to heat up, there are others (Lowell, Youkilis) who are going to cool down. Let's try this little experiment.
Ramirez, Lowell (2007): .296/.368/.501/.870
Ramirez, Lowell (2006): .300/.386/.538/.924
So maybe you can reasonably expect a little bit more from that tandem. On the other hand, they are both in their mid-30s, now, so between the two, there's really not been a big drop from what can reasonably be projected.
Youkilis, Drew (2007): .302/.397/.462/.859
Youkilis, Drew (2006): .281/.386/.461/.847
Right on line with last year.
Varitek, Pedroia, Lugo (2007): .260/.339/.395/.734
Not enough from Pedroia to make this comparison profitable, but this is an upgrade over last year's catcher/middle-infielder triumvirate, which hit .264/.327/.381/.708. Lugo's been bad so far, but Pedroia's got good numbers, and Varitek's hit better than I expected.
Now, Crisp has been bad in CF, and one can certainly hope for more on that front. Ramirez will improve his numbers, as will Drew, but I think that Lowell and Varitek probably both drop. And while Kevin Youkilis is, I think, establishing a new level of production, and hitting the way some of us always expected him to, he probably can't maintain his current level, certainly not what he's done the past couple of week. All things considered, I still expect them to score 880-900, which is not dramatically more than the pace that they're currently on.