Red Sox' Run Differential In Unfamiliar Territory

It's getting a bit lonely in the Red Sox lineup for Dustin Pedroia. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

The Boston Red Sox have given up more runs than they have scored in 2012. This is not a normal thing for the Sox, who tend to have high-powered offenses that counter even the worst rotations. But, between injuries in the starting lineup (Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, David Ortiz, Cody Ross, Will Middlebrooks, and others) as well as a starting staff that is going to run out of season before it rights itself, it's actually surprising they didn't end up in this place sooner. Now that Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez have been sent to the Dodgers, though, and Dustin Pedroia is somewhat alone in being an offensive force in the lineup until 2013, the Sox find themselves outscored by nine runs on the year.

In the last 20 seasons, the Red Sox have had a negative run differential at year's end just three times. The worst of these, and it's not close, was in 1994. The others, as you might expect from a team that's been mostly competitive for that 20-year stretch, have been close to .500, but not on the right side of the ledger by the time game 162 was completed:

Season Runs Scored Runs Allowed Run Differential
2012 658 667 -9
2011 875 737 138
2010 818 744 74
2009 872 736 136
2008 845 694 151
2007 867 657 210
2006 820 825 -5
2005 910 805 105
2004 949 768 181
2003 961 809 152
2002 859 665 194
2001 772 745 27
2000 792 745 47
1999 836 718 118
1998 876 729 147
1997 851 857 -6
1996 928 921 7
1995 791 698 93
1994 552 621 -69
1993 686 698 -12

Given how much Boston tends to outscore opponents by, the seasons in which they are outscored stick out. In 1994, Boston allowed 69 more runs than they scored, despite a shortened season. This wasn't the pitching's fault, though: the staff compiled a 102 ERA+, while the lineup put up its most pitiful effort of the last few decades.

Mo Vaughn was excellent, putting up a .310/.408/.576 line and 147 OPS+. John Valentin broke out, with a .316/.400/.505 line, at a time when shortstops just didn't do that. Remember, Nomar Garciaparra wasn't even drafted until 1994. The only other position player with an above-average OPS+ was Mike Greenwell and his 102 mark, except he was a left fielder: his .269/.348/.453 showing was actually about four percent below-average for the position.

The 1995 team did well for itself with Dan Duquette's strategy of mixing and matching parts all over the roster to complement the core of Vaughn and Valentin, but that strategy didn't work nearly as well in 1996 or 1997, the latter of which saw Boston's run differential fall into the red again.

Not once during the Pedro era did Boston score fewer runs than they gave up, and, except for in 2006, the post-Pedro era, featuring some of the league's top offenses thanks to a core of Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and a list that goes on and on, put a whole lot of distance between the two. The 2012 just hasn't worked out that way, though, as there were just more injuries, more struggles, more basically everything negative.

If the past is any indication, though, and this is a temporary slip-up that can be rectified with better players, and better use of resources. Whether those players come from the farm, trades, free agency, or all three is yet to be seen.

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