Houston Astros Fans Know Your ALCS Foe – Boston Red Sox

Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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Boston Red Sox, J.D. Martinez
Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

The Red Sox heart-of-the-order is lethal.

The Astros lineup might be the best in all of baseball , but there’s an argument that Boston’s “heart of the order” (3-6 spot) might be the best in the game. This is the baseball equivalent of the Golden State Warriors 2016 lineup of death.

The Red Sox have Rafael Devers-Xander Bogarts-Alex Verdugo-JD Martinez as a back-to-back-to-back-to-back combination is pretty imposing. Those four guys combined to hit .290 with 102 HRs, 354 RBIs and an OPS of .876 over the 2021 season.

The ability for Alex Cora to mix-and-match two power righties (Bogarts, Martinez) with two power lefties (Devers, Verdugo) makes it tough for even the best pitchers, especially when you have to see these guys consistently over a seven-game series.

The Red Sox offense jumps out early and comes through in big spots.

This great Red Sox lineup also jumps on teams early. The Red Sox hit .263 against starting pitchers the first time through the lineup for an OPS of .789 – that’s a OPS+ of 123 (league average is 100).

This offense has a well-prepared plan coming into the game and they seem to execute well in the first couple of innings against a starting pitcher. What’s interesting is they actually drop off to around the league average when a starting pitcher goes through their lineup a second and third time: second time through, the OPS+ is 104, and the third time, it is 107.

They also are perhaps the most clutch hitting team (along with Houston) in all of baseball. Boston ranks in the 80th+ percentile in most major clutch batting situations – but they excelled particularly in one scenario the most – two outs and runners in scoring position. With two guys on the bags and two outs on the board, Boston Red Sox hit .262 with a .824 OPS – a SOPS of 128.

Translation: they cashed in on big scoring chances time and time again. We saw this on display during the ALDS where they had big hits down in Tropicana Field that blew open  Game 2, and then timely hits that led to some big walk off wins in Games 3 and 4.

Whether or not they have Lance McCullers for the series, the Astros pitchers will have to play well. If they can keep the bases empty and not get down in the first three innings, Houston should be able to settle in and let their offense wear out the inferior Boston pitching. But if Houston can’t contain this Boston offense early and often, it might be a tough series to watch.