According to sources in and outside the organization, the Boston Red Sox were very bad at baseball in September, causing the team to miss the playoffs.
"Hitting a baseball, pitching a baseball, catching a baseball, running around the bases — they were bad at all of it. Hence all the losing," said a front office source who asked to remain anonymous. "Wait. I don't need to be anonymous," he added. "I'm not really saying anything that's not painfully obvious, right?"
Data analysis supports those claims. The Red Sox "won" only 7 games in September and "lost" 20 games. They also had fewer "runs" than their opponents in all 20 of the defeats.
"For a while I couldn't exactly put my finger on what was happening," said a team source. "Especially with our pitching. But then I realized that when our pitchers would throw the ball, the other team's hitters would often hit it out into the field away from our fielders. That seemed to cause a problem for the team."
According to some reports, starting pitchers Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Jon Lester were among the worst offenders, routinely throwing pitches that were hit so far that many even went over the fence bordering the far end of the field.
The pitching wasn't the only problem for the Red Sox, however. Many Boston hitters, despite their name being "hitters", didn't hit the ball at all. Most failed to hit the ball 7 to 8 times out of every 10 chances. And, according to numerous team sources, supposed team leader David Ortiz often spent games sitting in the dugout while his teammates were fielding, only ever taking the field to hit.
"We would have won a lot more in September had our players hit the ball more," said a source.
"Yeah, I bet things would have turned out differently if we had played baseball better," said a front office member. "Were there other issues with the team? Maybe. But being really bad at baseball for about 30 games was easily the biggest one."