Hitting, fielding and pitching.
Those are what a baseball team needs to be successful. Undoubtedly, the Boston Red Sox are the best hitting team in baseball. And defensively, they're one of the better teams. It's just their presence on the mound that's hurting them.
At 39-30 through 69 games, they're just a game out of first in the American League East. Their team batting average and OPS are tough to match and they don't make many errors. On the mound, however, it's a little different.
The Red Sox pitching staff is about average. But they have a knuckleballer named Steven Wright in the running for the American League Cy Young Award and two of the game's highest paid pitchers: David Price and Rick Porcello. The back end of their rotation (and part of their bullpen), in contrast, has been dreadful.
In 26 starts pitched by guys not named Wright, Price or Porcello, the Red Sox have surrendered 100 earned runs 126.1 innings (7.12 ERA).
(Math on that (9*(40+21+16+7+9+7)/(56.66+22.34+20.66+12.34+10.33+4)))
College students know the struggle of balance and being a well-rounded person: between school, sleep and their social life. To borrow an idiom, the Red Sox would truly be hitting it out of the park in the classroom. David Ortiz has the highest OPS in baseball, Xander Bogaerts could win MVP, Mookie Betts is on pace for over 30 home runs, Dustin Pedroia is hitting about .300, and Jackie Bradley Jr., one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball, has established himself as one of the best hitters too.
If you think of fielding as social life then the Red Sox are the life of the party. Pedroia, Bogaerts, Betts and Bradley Jr. are sharp defensively. Behind the plate, Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon are elite - they just don't hit well. And Hanley Ramirez shocked everyone by becoming a great defensive first baseman. All he used to be able to do was hit and while he's not a bad hitter, he's only about average now. His defense is where he at least is kind of earning his $22 million this year.
Now what about sleep? The Red Sox would be sleeping for about four to five hours per night as opposed to the seven to eight needed for a healthy life. There's a saying about pitching winning championships. And when people don't sleep enough, they're bound to break down after awhile. If the Red Sox don't upgrade the back half of their pitching staff, there could be a breakdown.
If there's a breakdown, they won't have to worry about the postseason - even if they're supposed to meet the Chicago Cubs in the World Series.