This just in: The Red Sox have a discipline problem.
Yeah, I know what you're thinking. But I'm not talking about in the clubhouse, on the team plane, on the golf course or with the media. I'm talking in the batter's box here. I'm talking walks and on base percentage. The kind of stuff that makes Bill James feel all naughty and tingly inside.
Discipline at the plate.
At various points this season, Bobby Valentine, Ben Cherington and Dave Magadan have all occasionally voiced their displeasure with the Sox impatience in the box.
"Hughes pitched up in the strike zone, and we couldn't lay off of it," Valentine said after a loss to the Yankees last week. "We made a lot of quick outs, swinging at some of those pitches. And, maybe a little immature in our approach at times."
"There's a lot of inconsistency," Magadan said last month. "A lot of it -- and I know I've harped on this a lot this year -- is the approach at the plate. You're not going to bang out 15 hits every night. You've got to find ways to get on base, work a count, get a guy's pitch count up."
In an interview with WEEI after the Adrian Gonzalez trade, Cherington touched on the same issues: "Our best teams have been disciplined teams," he said. "We've grinded at-bats, we've made pitchers work, we've thrown strikes, we've played good fundamental baseball"
Speaking of grinding, the 2012 season is thankfully and finally grinding to halt, and with that the Sox historic impatience is now more clear than ever.
First of all, David Ortiz is pretty much guaranteed to end the season as Boston's team leader in walks with 56. This, despite having only played 90 games and sitting out the last two months of the season.
The last time a Sox player led the team with fewer than 56 walks? That would be 1930, when infielder Bobby Reeves was the leader with 50. (They had a player with more than 56 walks in the both the strike shortened seasons of 1981 and 1994).
But maybe that stat is a little skewed. After all, Boston did suffer an astounding number of injuries this season. They have a ton of guys who have missed a ton of games, which might explain why the individual totals are so sad. But that being said, their team total is just as horrendous.
As of today, the Sox have drawn a total of 400 walks through 149 games. That puts them on pace for 435 walks on the season. And that would be their lowest total since 1931 back in the days little Bobby Reeves was king.
So, there you have it. That's not to say that finding guys who are willing and able to grind out at-bats and get on base is the No. 1 priority for the Sox this offseason, but you can be damn sure it's on the list.
Here's hoping Ben come through, and Bill James can once again watch the Sox with that same naughty tingle.