Originally posted on Sox and Dawgs  |  Last updated 7/10/12

we are in the 2012 Major League Baseball All-Star break, I figured it would be a good time to take a look at Boston Red Sox and their performance by the numbers in through the first 86 games of the season.

As we now the team sits at .500 a mere 43-43 at the break with a sub .500 home record of 22-24 at Fenway Park, while on the road they are 21-19.

So what are the teams issues.  Well first off it’s injuries.  We all know they’ve had 20 different players make a total of 23 trips to the disabled list.  So far we have yet to even see LF Carl Crawford, P John Lackey and closer Andrew Bailey, while we only saw a small sample of 7 games of 2011 AL MVP runner up Jacoby Ellsbury.  Couple that with DL trips by Daisuke Matsuzaka, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett, Dustin Pedroia, Cody Ross, Ryan Sweeney, Scott Podsednik and about a dozen games lost for 3B Will Middlebrooks it’s been a very difficult first half for first year manager Bobby Valentine.

How important exactly is Ellsbury to the Red Sox?  Well when you take into account the center fielders have hit a mere .243 with an on base percentage of .279 and a slugging percentage of .325 with 12 doubles, 1 triple, 4 HR and 30 RBI it’s not hard to see why the offense has sputtered.

Meanwhile out of Ellsbury’s lead off spot the team has generated 24 doubles, no triples, 9 HR and 52 RBI while the leadoff hitters have just hit .258 with a .309 OBP and SLG of .397.  Compared to even Ellsbury’s career numbers which are .299 BA .354 OBP and .450 SLG that is a significant drop off in production.  When you put up his remarkable 2011 season of .321 BA with a .376 OBP and .552 SLG with 32 HR and 105 RBI you can see why the team has dropped off.

Then add in no Crawford, an oft injured Pedroia, who is hitting a mere .266 with an OBP of .326 and a .400 SLG with 19 doubles, 2 triples, 6 HR and 33 RBI, and a powerless Adrian Gonzalez that’s about all you need to know regarding the Boston offense in the first half of 2012.

While the bullpen has very good since mid to late April the starting staff has been a major concern.  Matsuzaka returned from Tommy John surgery and to me it seemed like he was rushed to help fill a rotation hole, and he has been well what he has always been.  He has made five starts he is 0-3, he averages just 80 pitches per game and has a WHIP of 1.35 and a 6.65 ERA.

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The two “aces” of the staff have been non-existent.  Josh Beckett, when not on the golf course, is 4-7 with a 1.20 WHIP and a 4.43 ERA and Jon Lester is 5-6 with a 1.35 WHIP and a 4.49 ERA.  No where near what you need or expect from the two big guns in the rotation of a team expected to contend for a World Series title.

Clay Buchholz at times looks like he is about to find himself and to his credit before his latest DL sting, he pitched well overall he is 8-2 but a rough start to the year has elevated his WHIP to 1.54 and his ERA to 5.53.

Then there’s the case of Felix Doubront, who at times has been the teams best starter, but at 24 years of age is severely overmatched as a MLB starter at this time.  Doubront would have been better served to have had this year in the bullpen or at worse the first half season in Pawtucket with a midseason call up.  Valentine and pitching coach Bob McClure were really kind of forced to use this kid in the rotation after Bailey came up lame near the end of spring training.  That took Aceves out of the running for a starting spot and put Valentine in the position of going with two unknown starters in Doubront and Daniel Bard, who is a whole entire post on his own.

Doubront, while being the recipient of the most run support in the majors has a 9-4 record and leads the team in wins but has a WHIP of 1.38 and a 4.41 ERA.  He has made 17 starts and pitched 96 innings, which means he doesn’t even make it through 6 innings and yet throws an average of 98 pitches per start.

It’s a bit unfair to be hard on Doubront when he has the best starter ERA on the team that features some historically good pitchers but what he does need is to be more efficient with his pitches.  He consistently has 50+ pitches thrown in the first three innings and it leads to very early exits.  Luckily for “Doubie” the bullpen has done a wonderful job in picking him up.

So what is in store for this team in the second half of 2012?  Well first they need to get healthy and that starts this weekend with the return of Middlebrooks, Buchholz and Ellsbury.  Shortly after that Pedroia will be back and so will Crawford and hopefully by the last 25-30 games we will finally have Bailey in the pen and hold your breath but the target return for Lackey is September as well.

After they get healthy then they need to play to their capabilities.  It’s hard to be upset with Valentine when he has been forced to play a lineup of castoffs and Triple A players but I guess it’s remarkable that the team is at .500 and still in striking distance of an American League playoff berth.

Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveMichaelsII

photo credit: getty images

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