A lot went wrong for the Red Sox this year, but one of their most underrated areas of demise was on the base paths.

It’s almost impossible to overstate how different the 2013 and 2014 seasons were. To go from champion to year-long cellar dweller, there were obviously many areas where the Red Sox completely fell apart. The starting pitching totally fell off at points, especially in the latter portion of the year when almost the entire Opening Day rotation had been traded away. The offense was nowhere near as potent, with young players struggling much more than they did just one year prior. The also had worse luck with injuries. Put it all together, and you get yourself one of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory. One other area where the team fell off significantly isn’t getting as much play though, and that was Boston’s performance on the base paths.

The biggest reason the team struggled with running so much this past year was the loss of their biggest free agent, Jacoby Ellsbury. Although everyone knew that he was a special base runner, I think most people (myself included) failed to realize what a significant portion of the team’s overall base running value he carried. Consider how good he was just at stealing bases. During his tenure in Boston, the center fielder stole 241 bases in 715 games, good for just about one stolen base in every three games. In fact, over his time with Boston, only four players in the entire league had more steals, and Ellsbury played in at least 86 fewer games than each of them. This is not to say that the Red Sox front office should have kept him around because of his legs. Letting him walk was still the right decision for many …read more