Silverman: Red Sox lineup at big disadvantage when sized up against Aaron Judge’s Yankees
MIAMI — What kind of world do we live in where the Red Sox lose David Ortiz the same year the Yankees gain Aaron Judge?
It’s a world where the baseball gods rule with a cruel sense of irony.
It was bad enough the Sox lost both the swat and the sizzle of Ortiz this season.
But after wading through the hip-deep sawdust and horsehide debris left behind by the stupefying performance Judge turned in Monday night in the Home Run Derby, it’s impossible to avoid the jarring conclusion that once again in a couple of key departments, the Yankees have triumphed against the Red Sox.
In the name of “No, No, Nanette” and in the spirit of the Evil Empire, the Yankees once again are the Sox’ daddy when it comes to stealing both the thunder and the spotlight.
Call it the Aaron Judge effect.
It’s in full operational mode right now, and as soon as Friday, you can see it for yourself at Fenway Park when Judge and the second-place Yankees (31/2 games back, along with the Rays) stride into town for a weekend series against the American League East leaders.
Judge’s winning smile and genuine, nice-guy demeanor will play so, so well in the city that never sleeps. Even before he demolished the field and dented the support beams of Marlins Park, Judge already was on his way to being crowned the face of the game. In that department, the Red Sox really can have little to no say. New York’s simply too big and too loud, and Boston’s never going to match it in either department.
But Judge’s swing, his clout, his swat are as impressive as his literal 6-foot-7 chiseled stature.
Judge stands head and shoulders above a Sox lineup composed of virtual squirts, with its twin 6-foot-2 “towers” of Mitch Moreland and Hanley Ramirez.
The Red Sox could go out and draft and sign hulking specimens like Judge if they really wanted to, but they haven’t lately and have had plenty of success drafting average or shorter-than-average players such as Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi. Perhaps 6-foot Rafael Devers will mature into a big league power threat.
Offensively, the Sox are fourth in the AL in runs scored per game, the ultimate offensive stat, but it’s safe to say that even though they have been productive scoring runs, that offense has been inconsistent, especially when compared to the pitching.
Power-wise, the 2017 Red Sox are not inconsistent, they are deficient. They suffer mightily in comparison to the Yankees, the AL-leading Astros and every other team. Twenty-eight other teams in the game really don’t have anybody to compare to Judge in the power department, he’s that special, but the Red Sox have not come close.
The Sox knew they could not replace Ortiz. But nobody thought they would lose this much punch and pop this fast.
With just 92 home runs in 89 games, the Red Sox are dead last in the AL.
This is not a moribund offense the Red Sox have, as its depth presents a challenge to opposing pitchers, but there’s no Ortiz, and nobody’s come close to imitating him.
“You don’t expect it, but you have to go with what it is,” All-Star Mookie Betts, whose 16 homers are tops on the team, said yesterday. “We’ve got guys that hit, sometimes home runs, but we hit. What we’re lacking there we make up in our batting average and on-base percentage. There’s more aspects to the game than just hitting home runs.”
Betts does not have to defend how the lineup is constructed. His only job is to hit in it, and he certainly does that well. It’s up to baseball operations to assemble the cast of hitters and to manager John Farrell to put them in the right order, day in and night out.
“I wouldn’t say it’s any better or any worse than last year,” Betts said. “You just go with what you got and play the cards you’re dealt.”
It takes more than Betts’ 16, or Ramirez’ 13 or the dozen from Andrew Benintendi, Mitch Moreland and Jackie Bradley Jr. for the Red Sox to be a formidable homer-hitting team.
Ortiz is not walking through the door anymore.
And Judge has just begun to send balls crashing onto the Mass Pike.