The Boston Red Sox have never been considered an organization with a propensity for manufacturing offense using small ball tactics.
For as long as most Red Sox' fans can remember, the team built their lineups around the strength of the middle of their batting order. Who can blame them with the friendly confines of Fenway and it's Green Monster looming large a mere 310 feet away?
However, the 2017 Red Sox don't resemble any of the Old Towne teams from yesteryear. Gone are the days of a Murderer's Row.
This season's Red Sox resemble a cloned army of young and athletic, doubles hitters who run the bases aggressively. The death by 1000 papercuts approach relies on a succession of walks and singles or a timely hit and run.
The numbers certainly bear out this offensive approach.
The Red Sox' 40 homers as a team are currently tied for dead last in the majors this season. The American League team average is 58 home runs. The San Francisco Giants are the team tied with Boston and they have to play home games in a park renowned for suppressing power numbers.
Boston's .411 slugging percentage is also below their AL counterparts average of .412. The lack of power has drawn criticism from skeptics who do not believe this type of approach makes a World Series caliber team. Luckily for Red Sox fans, baseball has seen this approach work in recent years.
The Kansas City Royals reached the World Series in back to back seasons culminating in their Championship 2015 season. The 2014 Royals ranked dead last in home runs. The 2015 team that won it all ranked 24th with 139 homers.
The similarities between those Royals teams and this Red Sox team have been mentioned by Dave Dombrowski in the past, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that the 140-HR pace of these Red Sox is right in line with the 2015 Royals' totals.
The statistical resemblance between these teams doesn't end with the home runs.
The 2015 Royals accumulated 300 doubles on the season. Good for third in the majors. The Red Sox have hit the fifth most doubles in baseball this season with 87. That's a 306-double pace over a full 162 games.
The 104 stolen bases by the Royals put them in the Top-5 that season. The Red Sox are on pace for 106 thefts this season after nabbing bags 27, 28 and 29 on Thursday night against the Rangers. They swiped five bases just a few days prior in Oakland.
The Royals struck out a league-low 973 times in 2015. Boston has struck out 35 fewer times than any other team in baseball this season. A direct indication that both teams were adept at putting the ball in play which allows a manager to utilize the hit and run with more confidence.
That Kansas City team kept opposing teams within a run or two until their bullpen dropped the hammer. Royals hitters scratched and clawed their way back into games, often winning with small ball tactics such as Eric Hosmer's game-tying mad dash home in the deciding Game 5 of the World Series.
Red Sox fans have grown accustomed to the savvy baserunning skills of Mookie Betts. Betts recently scored all the way from first base on a hit and run single to left-center field.
Fangraphs has a stat category called (BsR) which stands for baserunning runs above average. It's the number of runs above or below average a player has been worth on the bases, based on stolen bases, caught stealing, extra bases taken, outs on the bases, and avoiding double plays.
Last season, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. ranked first, ninth and 14th respectively. For comparison purposes, the Royals' Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar ranked in the Top-20 during the 2015 season.
The 2017 Red Sox are producing an impressive slash line of .300/.385/.421 and have a trio of skilled baserunners that can rival any team.
The Royals managed to reach baseball's pinnacle by manufacturing runs late in the game and did so while producing a .255/.314/.377 slash line after the seventh inning.
In addition to the late game success the Boston bats have had this season, they rank 2nd in the majors in batting average (.272), 2nd in on-base percentage (.344) and have put 41 runs across the plate in their last 5 games.
As C.J. Nitkowski pointed out recently, the Red Sox lack of home runs is being highly over criticized.