5 Biggest Reasons Behind the Boston Red Sox's Playoff Drought
J. Meric/Getty Images
The 2012 Boston Red Sox were a mess. The team had problems everywhere.
They've missed the playoffs for three straight years now, so 2012 wasn’t exactly a complete fluke.
There are several reasons why the Red Sox have struggled since 2009.
Here are the five biggest reasons behind the Red Sox’s playoff drought.
1. Starting Pitching
Jon Lester needs to be an ace.
When the Red Sox made the playoffs in 2009, opponents scored 736 runs against them. In 2012, the Red Sox opponents scored 806 runs.
Though their offense wasn’t as good as it has been in years past, inconsistent starting pitching has been the primary reason why the Red Sox have struggled.
In 2010, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz had great seasons, while John Lackey was below average and Josh Beckett was awful.
In 2011, Beckett and Lester were great, but Buchholz was hurt and Lackey had one of the worst pitching performances in franchise history.
This past season, no SP was good. Lester and Buchholz were mediocre, Beckett was awful when in Boston and Felix Doubront, who provided hope for the future, was inconsistent.
If Boston is going to return to the playoffs, it needs to start by fixing the starting rotation.
2. John Farrell Needs to Take Charge
John Farrell must take charge of the clubhouse.
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Since the Red Sox have last made the playoffs there have been numerous reports of the inmates running the asylum—under both Terry Francona and Bobby Valentine.
Now that John Farrell has been hired, his biggest responsibility (after fixing the pitching staff) will be to send a message to the clubhouse that he is running the show.
When the team was winning they earned the right to have some slack, but now that they have missed the playoffs for three straight years, things need to change.
3. Lack of Outfield Production
If he stays, Jacoby Ellsbury needs to be elite.
Greg Fiume/Getty Images
Since Manny Ramirez left and the Red Sox let Jason Bay leave as a free agent, Boston's outfield has been a virtual revolving door.
Since the start of the 2010 season, the Red Sox have had 19 different players enter a game as an outfielder.
Part of the problem has been due to injuries—Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford and Ryan Kalish missed significant time during that span.
A once stable position part of the lineup is now a major flaw.
For all the flaws in J.D. Drew’s game and despite the character concerns regarding Ramirez, you knew what you had with them.
The Red Sox need to shore up their outfield and once again make that a strength, not a weakness.
4. Who Is the Catcher Moving Forward?
Can Jarrod Saltalamacchia be the man moving forward?
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
While Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit 25 home runs this past season, he also batted a lowly .222 and struck out 139 times in 121 games. Another way to look at it: he struck out in 31 percent of his plate appearances.
Unless Salty can improve his plate discipline, this will be a problem moving forward.
In addition to Saltalamacchia’s issues, the once stable catcher position has also been somewhat of a revolving door, making it harder on pitchers.
Since Jason Varitek began to regress, the Red Sox brought in Victor Martinez, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Kelly Shoppach, Kevin Cash and Ryan Lavarnway.
Moving forward, management needs to find a catcher who can handle being behind the plate for at least 120 games per season.
5. Leadoff Production
Is Jacoby Ellsbury this team's leadoff hitter?
Aside from Jacoby Ellsbury’s amazing season in 2011, the Red Sox have lacked production out of the leadoff position.
Part of this is due to Ellsbury missing most of the 2010 and 2012 seasons due to injury.
However, if healthy, is Ellsbury a true leadoff hitter?
The Red Sox need someone in the leadoff spot that is capable of consistently getting on base at least 35 percent of the time.
If Boston can receive that kind of production from its leadoff hitter, the rest of the lineup will be set up for success.