The Boston Red Sox have some eye-opening statistics going for them this postseason, which isn’t the most surprising if you’ve watched them tearing through talented playoff teams this month. They’ve outscored opponents 68-41 in the postseason. They are 9-0 when scoring first in October. They are undefeated in five games on the road in October, with all of those wins coming against teams with 100 or more wins. As a team, they have a .261/.345/.404 slash line in these playoffs while opponents are batting only .209/.305/.333.
Even their bullpen, which was shaky at best for much of the season’s second half, was rocking a 0.90 ERA with 23 strikeouts over 30 innings pitched through World Series Game 1. In the World Series, they’re at a 1.13 ERA with a 0.50 WHIP and eight strikeouts.
But the scariest thing about this Red Sox team, besides the broad fact they look able to adapt to and overcome any opponent’s strategy, is they are most dangerous when they have two outs against them. Here is a complete list of things Boston has done with two outs during the first two games of the World Series.
- J.D. Martinez RBI double
2 outs, 1 on, J. D. Martinez comes up CLUTCH. @RedSox back in front! pic.twitter.com/pQH929pYMm— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 24, 2018
- Xander Bogaerts intentional walk
- Rafael Devers RBI single
- Eduardo Nuñez three-run home run
- Ian Kinsler RBI single
Don't even bother pitching to the Red Sox with two outs.— Sporting News (@sportingnews) October 25, 2018
Just give them a run and move on to the next inning.pic.twitter.com/2n3Ev0Ka1H
- Christian Vásquez single
- Mookie Betts single
- Andrew Benintendi walk
- Steve Pearce RBI walk
- J.D. Martinez 2 RBI single
Throughout the entire postseason they have scored 36 of their 68 total runs with two outs on the board. That’s a whopping 53 percent of their run production coming in clutch moments. Compare that to the 37 percent average of all teams in the regular season, or the record-setting percentage the 1992 Braves achieved at 59 percent (via the Elias Sports Bureau) and you see how much of an achievement it is thus far.
If you narrow the situation even further to runners in scoring position with two outs, Boston’s lineup is hitting 17-for-40, good for a .425 batting average. In that situation they have 11 walks and only seven strikeouts as a team. In that situation, according to Alex Speier at the Boston Globe, they also have a .564 OBP and are slugging .756. The former categories are good for the best in any postseason (minimum 20 plate appearances in this situation) and the latter is second in October history.
That’s more than just clutch, that’s Michael Myers can’t be killed with just eight bullets to the chest clutch. Especially when you consider they’ve faced some of the best pitches in the game (Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka). Some of them more than once.
Watching Boston’s lineup carve up opposing teams when their backs are against the wall gives you a good sense of just what kind of damage they are causing without even digging into the evidence further. It’s more than apparent that when a team is close to ending an inning against Boston, they are not nearly out of the woods. An opposing pitcher could be in for another hit or two, or a walk and a steal attempt, or a high-pitch at bat that taxes them further because this team is pesky in that way.
The two outs is not the only clutch moment that these Red Sox excel. With data analyzed with Google Cloud Platform services, just how good they are in all variety of clutch situations is readily apparent. In the regular season, they ranked first in the league hitting against a 2-2 count. They sported a .225 average with a .227 OBP and a .366 slugging percentage in those situations. At 3-2, they ranked seventh among all teams in the regular season, hitting .217 and slugging .377.
Andrew Benintendi, Boston’s second bat in the lineup, is hitting .282 with five doubles and nine runs brought home this postseason. He was one of the most clutch hitters in the Boston lineup in the regular season, ranking ninth in the league in both batting average and OBP facing an 0-2 count (54 at bats). He hit .259 and his OBP was .268 in that situation, and he ranked 10th in the league in slugging thanks to a .426 mark there. Over 79 at bats facing a 1-2 count he ranked 13th in the league in average, hitting .253.
He’s just one weapon though. This Red Sox team has proven they can get you from the mound with pitchers like Chris Sale and David Price clicking in important games, they can get you on defense with Gold Glove-worthy plays in the infield and across all outfield spots.
But they can get you at the plate the most, as the Yankees and Astros and Dodgers can all tell you by now. Because even when you think you have them, even when you think the villain has been vanquished and you can see the light at the entrance of the haunted house, they’ll turn around and remind you the inning isn’t over yet. They’re a team that makes every at-bat count, but it’s the ones when they are teetering on the edge that they make count the most.