The Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros are teams whose offenses are similarly structured. Each are built around a core four; four big guns that provide the bulk of the offensive firepower.
For the Boston Red Sox this core consists of Mookie Betts, J. D. Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, and Xander Bogaerts.
And as we all know, for the Astros it is George Springer, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman.
How good are these guys? Here are career stats for the Boston Core.
J. D. Martinez OPS .886
Mookie Betts OPS .888
Xander Bogaerts OPS .772
Andrew Benintendi OPS .806
Here the Astros’ career stats.
Jose Altuve OPS .818
George Springer OPS .824
Carlos Correa OPS .833
Alex Bregman OPS .866
Certainly no pitcher would feel safe facing any combination of these four batters in succession. With the game on the line he would probably prefer pitching to almost anyone but each of these eight.
And yet, so far in this young ALCS, instead of teams with a core four, both teams have only gotten explosion out of one of their core.
For the Astros it has been George Springer, OPS 1.125. For the Red Sox it has been Mookie Betts, 1.069.
Here are the remaining core of the Astros.
Carlos Correa OPS .730
Alex Bregman OPS .700
Jose Altuve OPS .425
And here are the remaining core of the Red Sox.
Xander Bogaerts OPS .661
Andrew Benintendi OPS .222
J. D. Martinez OPS .125
Of course these are small samples, but that is the point. Although it is certainly possible for a great player to have a bad playoff series, it is highly unlikely that all six of these players above will continue to under perform their career averages. Both these teams are overdue for some offensive explosion. These bombs are set to go off, especially now that the TOR pitchers are out of the way for a while.
If these core players regress during the remaining games of the ALCS, it is probably to the advantage of the Red Sox. So far, Benintendi and Martinez have been worse than the pitchers of the Milwaukee Brewers (probly). Martinez has to improve his OPS .750 points just to reach his career average. Who doubts he might not end up doing that?
So far the Astros’ team OPS is .756, almost identical to the season number. For the Sox it is .528, compared to the season average of .792. Part of the Red Sox’ under performance might be the Astros’ pitching, but not all. Astros pitchers hold their rivals to a .640 OPS, well below league average but much higher than the Red Sox’ current .528 in the series.
Astros fans: Fear regression.