2024 Boston Red Sox O/U: Why the Sox will hit the UNDER

One of the best times to be a sports fan is before the season starts, especially if your team is not set up for success. You can live in a fantasy land where the studs carry the team, and the gambles hit big. Making up scenarios where the MVP on opposing teams gets injured at the worst time, freeing up their chance to steal a Wild Card spot, because everyone knows: Once the dance starts, anything can happen.

As a Boston Red Sox fan, I have been living in this beautiful world as I watched every big name go to big market teams while the Red Sox pretended they were playing in a small market, as Opening Day inches that much closer every day, the realistic part of my brain has taken over and brought me back down to earth.

Why the 2024 Boston Red Sox Fall Short

1. Fenway Sports Group’s lack of desire to win

Just five seasons ago, Boston fielded the best squad in team history, winning a franchise-high 108 games and breaking the century mark for the first time since 1946. The team was perfectly compiled, complimenting speed with power, contact with fielding, and a shutdown pitching staff. Boston waltzed through the postseason and Fall Classic, solidifying itself as one of the best teams in recent memory. With a 25-year-old duo of Mookie Betts in right, Xander Bogaerts at short, and a 21-year-old Rafael Devers at the hot corner, the Sox offense looked to be one of the most dangerous in the league for the next decade.

Instead, we saw one of the biggest front-office fumbles of our generation. The Sox took a step back in 2019, and the wheels started to shake. Their young core were all reaching their payday, all willing to stay in Boston for the rest of their career. If we flash forward to the present day, Betts, Bogaerts, and Devers are being paid a combined $958 million. It is a ludicrous amount of money, but for an organization worth $4.5 billion, the potential worth of fielding a competitive team for the next decade is greater than the risk.

John Henry and the owner’s group didn’t think resigning all three would be possible, but keeping two would have moved mountains for Boston. The Red Sox have a track record of sending away generational talent. They did so in the 1910s with The Great Bambino, and 110 years later, they did the same with Mookie Betts.

Betts was sent to the Dodgers after putting up a combined 18.0 bWAR in two seasons. Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez walked in Free Agency, and no attention was spent on the pitching staff, leaving them to rot. The Red Sox’s current roster is a post-apocalyptic fallout of one of the greatest teams of our generation.

2. Didn’t do enough to compete with the AL East

Over the past decade, the AL East has consistently been the tightest division in baseball. The Tampa Bay Rays have found a way to field a winning ballclub every season. The Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles have scary young cores that can easily go on a deep playoff run if they put it together. Not to mention, the New York Yankees are the most successful pro sports organization in history. Building a roster in the AL East is monumentally different than building a team in one of the Central divisions.

Instead of necessary additions, the Red Sox made confusing subtractions. Boston let both Justin Turner and Adam Duvall walk in free agency, swapping the two powerful bats for the Canadian Tyler O’Neill. Duvall, who dealt with injuries throughout ’23, was very impressive in left, and the veteran Turner was very consistent as the DH. The Red Sox also sent Alex Verdugo to their rival Yankees for a handful of pitchers.

Lastly, the Red Sox moved on from their ’18 World Series closing ace. Fireball-slinging lefty Chris Sale was sent to Atlanta along with $17 million for the young, unproven middle infielder Vaugh Grissom.

Boston is clearly looking to create a new team identity with first-year GM Craig Breslow. Speceletory reports have surfaced detailing Fenway Sports Group’s reluctance to spend due to the possibility Kylian MbappĂ© would join Arsenal in Summer ’24, which FSG also owns. Now that MbappĂ© has reportedly agreed to terms with Real Madrid, the Sox signing Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery doesn’t seem as far-fetched.

3. Pitching predicament

If Boston isn’t able to bring in the reigning NL Cy Young Snell or World Series star Montgomery, their pitching staff is in a sticky situation. The Red Sox ‘big fish’ this offseason has been signing Lucas Giolito to fill the massive shoes left by Chris Sale.

Giolito is not a bad pitcher by any means. The 6’6″ 245 lbs righty deserves a job in the MLB. But giving the man who gave up 41 home runs last year $19 million to be your ace is not a move a team trying to win the World Series makes. The xwOBA (expected weighted on-base average) of all his pitches sat around .300, and his pitching run value was the sixth worst in all of baseball in ’23. There is a reason he was on three different teams in three months to close the ’23 season.

Brayan Bello and Nick Pivetta are the second and third options in the Red Sox rotation, both of which are solid and will be able to fill their role throughout the season. But quality and dependability fall off a cliff after Pivetta. Kutter Crawford, Tanner Houck, and Chris Murphy are the next pitchers Alex Cora turns to. In the bullpen, Chris Martin and Kenley Jansen are two very solid options to turn to at the end of the game, but for some reason, the Red Sox felt they needed more. They went out and signed fan favorite Liam Hendriks to a three-year deal. Hendriks underwent Tommy John surgery last summer and won’t be available until the All-Star break.

All of the Red Sox moves this offseason haven’t felt thought through, and all of it feels a bit random.

4. Catching complication

A great pitcher is only as good as his catcher, so the Red Sox pitching problem only gains steam when you realize who they are throwing to. Boston is expected to run it back, with Connor Wong and Reece McGwire splitting time behind the dish. Wong is the only member left of the package sent from the Dodgers in exchange for Betts. Once a top 40 prospect, Wong’s ceiling is now explained as the “Ceiling of a platoon catcher who will have a season or two of starter-level production” by SoxProspects.com.

Wong is in the 10th percentile for Blocks Above Average and the 18th for Framing. Combining that with the fifth percentile in Batting Run Value, you get a catcher who may not be able to replicate what he was once projected to do. McGwire didn’t play enough games to qualify for BaseballSavants analytics, but his ‘23 hitting stats were somehow worse than Wong’s.

5. Unproven talent

Wong is evidence of a bigger problem the Red Sox face. The roster is full of unproven players with all the talent in the world, especially two players who were signed to massive deals and haven’t shown why they deserve that huge contract.

Trevor Story and Masataka Yoshida are being paid a combined $230 million and haven’t been close to the players the Red Sox thought they would be. Story, in particular, is pulling off a Kris Bryant-level fleece on the city of Boston. The 31-year-old signed a six-year $140 million deal with the Red Sox in the ’22 offseason and has only played in 137 games over two years. Dealing with odd injuries and then surprisingly needing Tommy John surgery, Story hasn’t been himself since joining the Red Sox. They will need him to step out of his funk and get back on track because, in the 564 plate appearances, Story has taken in a Red Sox uniform. He has hit 19 home runs to 177 strikeouts with a .227 batting average.

Yoshida has a little bit more slack to his name because of the transfer from the NPB in Japan to MLB, but the adjustment pitchers made in the second half really hurt him in ’23. Yoshida’s first half blew expectations out of the water. He was hitting .318 with a .874 OPS, 10 home runs, and 27 walks. He was the AL Rookie of the Year favorite by the All-Star break.

But his second half was incredibly bad, so bad that he fell all the way out of Rookie of the Year voting by November. His average dropped 64 points, his OPS fell a monumental 211 points, he hit half as many home runs and walked 20 fewer times. MLB pitchers started feeding him worse and worse pitches, and he kept chasing. Yoshida and Story will need to flip their scripts if the Red Sox want to even think about winning this season.


The Red Sox are not fielding a serious team in ’24. With the competition they will face in the deep AL East and the team not being set up the way it should be, the Red Sox will have an uphill battle all season.

Main Image: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

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