The 2013 Red Sox and the art of the double
The Red Sox this season hit a lot of doubles. The Red Sox against the Rays in Game 1 of the ALDS hit a lot of doubles.
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On Friday, the Red Sox, during the course of their 12-2 throttling of the Rays in Game 1 of the ALDS, smacked five doubles. That's fitting because in the 2013 regular season, the Red Sox tallied 363 doubles, which is the sixth-highest total in MLB history.
As was the case in Game 1, the Green Monster, as towering as it is near-at-hand to the right-handed hitter, had a little something to do with that. The 2013 team was the fifth team in Red Sox history to hit at least 200 doubles at home (they hit 205 two-baggers at Fenway this season). It's also not just a matter of loading up when lefty -- a lefty like, say, Matt Moore -- is on the mound. For instance, in 2013 the Red Sox at home averaged a double every 15.2 at-bats against left-handed pitchers, but against right-handers they averaged a double every 12.5 at-bats.
The overall penchant for doubles isn't surprising, of course. After all, Fenway this season has inflated the rate of non-home run extra-base hits (meaning, of course, mostly doubles) by 44 percent for left-handed batters and 11 percent for right-handed batters.
Yes, lefties over righties. Actually, going back to 1974 (the back end of the data), Boston's left-handed hitters have averaged a double every 14.7 ABs at home, while right-handed Red Sox hitters have hit a double every 15.8 ABs (data HT: Baseball Musings).
Surprising, no? What with all the attention the Monster gets? Well, by way of refresher, here's the Fenway Park diagram ...
(Image: Baseball Almanac)
As you can see -- and as you surely know -- there's a lot of green space out there in right field. That 380-foot "humpback" in the power alley serves to help keep balls in the park, but all that grass means balls fall in and often find the gaps or wind up pinball-ing in the corner.
Those tendencies have been exaggerated this season (as those park numbers above demonstrate), but this isn't a recent trend by any means. So don't dismiss all those Red Sox doubles as the residue of the Monster in tandem with all those right-handed bats like Mike Napoli, Johnny Gomes, Dustin Pedroia and Will Middlebrooks.
When the game's at Fenway, the Red Sox can hit doubles, and it's not solely because of that fortress wall that looms barely 300 feet away. The battered Rays certainly learned that in Game 1 on Friday.
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