(Photo courtesy of the Boston Globe) “Shortstop Xander Bogaerts walks away as the Red Sox lose.”
Just like that, the 2022 season ends for the Boston Red Sox. The season did not live up to fans’ expectations, as the Red Sox went 78-84, missing the playoffs and finishing dead last in the AL East.
Early on, most Red Sox fans would have thought the team was going to make a deep playoff run, as the team was on a hot streak going 20-6 in June and fighting for a playoff spot. This hope would quickly fade as the team fell off, struggling to stay at and secure a winning record for the rest of the season.
This was not the outcome Red Sox fans were hoping for, especially considering the success of the 2021 campaign. Right now many are left wondering, “What went wrong for the 2022 Red Sox?” The answer: a lot of things went wrong for the Red Sox.
Let’s start with the issue that most fans point to as the reason why the Red Sox struggled this year. The pitching was abysmal, not just the starting rotation, but the bullpen as well. The Red Sox pitchers had the sixth highest Earned Run Average (ERA) in the majors, the fifth most hits allowed and was eighth in homeruns allowed.
The team also had the 12th fewest saves in the league as the team lacked a true closer. This also includes a lack of quality bullpen pitching, the Red Sox blew 28 saves this season, which is the sixth most in the majors this season. That’s 28 possible wins the team let slip away.
The team had tried to address this reoccurring ailment during the offseason by signing pitchers Michael Wacha, James Paxton and Rich Hill. These new arms may have lacked results, but at least they were on cheap, short-term deals that could be moved around to help improve the team.
A major, unmovable blow to the pitching was the lack of superstar pitcher Chris Sale this season. Coming into the season, Sale was expected to be the headliner of the Sox’s rotation. However, a rib injury put pay to that and put him on the shelf for the first half of the season.
Sale eventually made his season debut in mid-July to much fanfare as the team was beginning to fall in the standings. They thought his return would change the team’s fortunes. This would prove to be wishful thinking as Sale fractured his throwing hand pinkie on a comebacker in his second appearance.
Initially, the injury wasn’t going to end his season, but shortly following the injury, Sale was involved in a bike accident. Sale broke his right wrist as a result, officially ending his season. Sale only pitched five 2/3 innings this season.
Though the pitching failed to meet expectations, the same cannot be said for the team’s bats. The hitting was elite as usual for the Sox. The headliners this year were the usual, third baseman Rafael Devers, outfielder J.D. Martinez and shortstop Xander Bogaerts, all voted to the All-Star game.
The Sox placed fourth in runs scored a game, had the third most hits in the league, finished with the most doubles, were ninth in Runs Batted In (RBI) and had the third highest team batting average. Not a bad year for the Sox hitters with all things considered; they certainly were the bright spot for the team this year.
Some fans are pointing out that the Red Sox division was loaded with quality teams this season, as all the teams from the AL East were in the playoff race heading into September. These fans say the Red Sox just couldn’t compete with the high-end talent of the other teams, hence why they struggled.
However, that shouldn’t be a problem. as the Red Sox boast a roster of high-end talent themselves. Their payroll of $223 million for the season was the sixth highest payroll in all of baseball. A team spending that much money should not be content with mediocrity if they face suitable competition, they should be able to play up to competition and match their worth.
With the season over, fans are wondering what is next. This off-season is a crucial one for the Red Sox, as Bogaerts is expected to opt out of his current contract and become a free agent. Martinez is also expected to hit the free agency market and Devers is due a big pay day as he is near the end of arbitration with the Sox.
The front office has a lot of decisions to make and they are left to wonder whether they should keep the core together or should enter a rebuilding phase. Nonetheless, the hope is that for next season, the Red Sox can bounce back and compete at the level many fans wished for this season.