Apr 10, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Daniel Nava (29) makes a diving catch for an out on New York Yankees third baseman Yangervis Solarte (26) (not pictured) during the third inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Red Sox: Is their outfield a major problem?

Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The defending World Champion Boston Red Sox sit in fourth place in the AL East with a 12-14 record, entering play Tuesday. One of the main reasons for this is because of the poor play coming from the team’s outfield.

The outfield as a whole is bating a dismal .195, and they don’t have a single player batting better than .230. Individually, fingers could be pointed at Daniel Nava. Nava, 31, is batting just .149 in 17 games, and found his way down to Pawtucket, due to both poor play and the need for roster space.

Nava isn’t the only one to blame. Jackie Bradley Jr. (.230 AVG, 25 Ks, 11 BBs) Jonny Gomes (.228 AVG, 22 Ks, 8 BBs) and Grady Sizemore (.208 AVG, 16 Ks, 7 BBs) all have become liabilities in Boston’s lineup. Shane Victorino (.133 AVG, 5 Ks, 1 BB) has only appeared in 3 games since coming back from injury, but he hasn’t impressed. Mike Carp (.266 AVG, 7 Ks, 4 BBs) has bounced around the outfield and first base, so his poor play isn’t strictly affecting the outfield.

The offense is off beat, and the defense isn’t too much better. They’ve combined for 4 errors, which may not seem to bad, but there have been plenty of misplayed balls and defensive plays which have been botched. Hopefully once Victorino (4-time Gold Glove award winner) is 100% back in the fold, the defense will improve as a whole.

In 2013, the outfield was one of Boston’s strongest positions. Nava batted .303 with 66 RBIs. Carp was an offensive spark-plug with 9 home runs and a .296 AVG off of the bench. Only 11 errors were committed the entire season, and the defense was all around superb. Including Jacoby Ellsbury the Red Sox had 4 outfielders batting higher than a .294 AVG, and 5 outfielders with a higher OBP than .344.

Jackie Bradley has arguably been the most impressive member of the outfield, and he’s only batting .230. At 24-years old, he’s still young and could develop as the season progresses. Red Sox fans and front office alike hope that it comes sooner rather than later, however.

At times, the outfield looks defeated. They’ve had the tendency to turn simple outs into base hits while in the field. However, at the plate, they can’t turn anything into base hits. The team itself is struggling, and the outfield is only making it worse.

While it may be too early to raise any warning flags, the Sox do have a cheap, in-house option to bandage up the problem: Bryce Brentz.

Brentz, 25, is one of the best outfielders in Boston’s farm system. With Triple-A Pawtucket last season, Brentz smashed 17 home runs, with 56 runs batted in. At the moment, Brentz may be the best power hitting outfielder in the Red Sox’ system – that includes the major league squad. In 10 games with Boston in Spring Training, Bryce batted .360 with 3 HRs and 7 RBIs. He’s one of the most MLB ready prospects Boston has, and the way things look, they could seriously use him.

So statistics aside, how big of a problem is this for Boston? Well right now, it’s something to monitor, but not a crisis. Boston as a whole has had trouble finding their way on base to start the season, but the outfield has been one of the worst to show. If this article is still relevant in a month, then maybe you might want to push the panic button.

Tags: Boston Red Sox Bryce Brentz Daniel Nava Grady Sizemore Jackie Bradley Jr. Mike Carp

  • Aaron Somers

    Shawn, we’re barely a month into the season. It’s just simply too early to be panicking about the production from this group and it’s certainly too early to be jumping to ideas that might resolve it. Victorino has played in three games entering tonight. It hardly seems fair to lay part of the blame on him.

    As for Brentz, I’m not so sure that he’s the answer simply because he hit a few home runs in the minor leagues a year ago. I’ve seen him play this year in Pawtucket, multiple times. He’s made a few great plays defensively but has looked sluggish at the plate. He’s struck out 21 times in 25 games and is batting just .258/.350/.438 through his first 103 PA. Does that really sound like “the answer” to you?

    • Shawn McFarland

      Aaron, I agree, that’s why I clarified that it may not be a problem yet, but if it continues for another month or so, it could be. Victorino, I made sure to say that Shane had only appeared in three games, but just saying that in those three games he hasn’t been great.

      As for Brentz, I don’t think he’s the “answer” but as far as in-system options, are there any better? Unless you plan on calling Margot up from Greenville, Brentz is arguably the best outfielder the Sox have that isn’t currently on the 25-man roster. I don’t think he’s going to walk on and be a savior, but if it comes down to it he could be an option (Unless they plan to look at trades or free agents)