The Boston Red Sox have managed to exceed expectations for much of the 2022 season and hang around in the American League wild card race for far longer than expected. Yet with the calendar flipping to September (Boston doesn't play on Thursday), it's looking like they are unofficially dead in the water when it comes to trying to find a way into the postseason.

With a 69-65 record, the Sox currently sit 6.5 games out of the final AL wild card spot, and given the strength of the teams ahead of them, it seems very unlikely that they will be able to make up that deficit over the final month of the season. Boston has lost five of their past six games, and their schedule doesn't really get any easier over the next few weeks.

It's not mathematically impossible just yet, but it soon will be, and maybe that's for the better for the Red Sox and their future. Making it into the playoffs would have given the front office a false sense of belief that they had actually done something right this year. But if they do indeed end up missing out on the playoffs, it should only add to their urgency to make some big moves this upcoming offseason.

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Why missing the playoffs would help the Red Sox

In retrospect, the Red Sox ended up having a decent offseason last year. It certainly didn't look good at the time, but thanks to Masataka Yoshida, Justin Turner, and Kenley Jansen all exceeding expectations, the Red Sox have remained relevant for much of the summer. But it's clear heading into this upcoming offseason that a similar strategy will not lead Boston back to the playoffs.

The Red Sox lack of star power all season long has been particularly glaring. Aside from Rafael Devers, there's no one on this team who can single-handedly will Boston to victories. Sure, when they are all playing well, this team looks unstoppable, but when a couple pieces of the puzzle are missing, the results get a lot less pleasant to look at.

We've seen that frequently over Boston's last six games. After dropping 17 runs on the Astros to split a four-game series with them, the Sox dropped two of their three games against the Los Angeles Dodgers in which their lineup generally struggled, and their pitching staff couldn't prevent runs from the scoring. The same theme held true when they were swept in another meeting with the Astros over the past three games.

Boston sure does win and lose as a group, but sometimes star players have to deliver to lead their team to victory. Chris Sale and Trevor Story are being billed as guys who can step up alongside Devers, but Sale has a 4.75 ERA on the season and Story has a paltry .194 batting average with just one home run over his first 18 games of the season since coming back from the injured list.

If one thing has become painstakingly clear this season, it's that this team needs more big-name players. For as much as Chaim Bloom likes to hunt for bargains in free agency and on the trade market, landing legit stars is the key to making World Series runs nowadays. Story was supposedly that guy when he was signed before the 2022 season, but he was really only added after Bloom missed out on every other big name free agent available, and so far, he has been a complete waste of money.

Devers has been locked up on a long-term deal, which gives Boston a sense of direction for the future. He is going to be the leader of the Red Sox next great team, with young studs in Brayan Bello, Triston Casas, and Jarren Duran working alongside him. But these guys aren't all going to be superstars; top-level talent needs to be added to the equation as well. It's the final piece.

Missing the playoffs should light a fire under the front office's chair. Making it into the playoffs for a meaningless run that would almost certainly result in a quick exit would only convince them that they had actually done something right. While Boston has been better than expected, that's not saying much considering they were widely expected to fail due to the front office's inability to add or retain top-tier players.

You can make a case that the Red Sox are one or two star players away from having a true World Series contender. They have a lot of depth, but they need to begin to turn that into something more than just fielding a team that can play above .500 baseball. Boston fans have not been happy with the state of the team for awhile, and after another season with postseason baseball, maybe the front office will wake up and begin to make the big moves that this team needs in order to be an actual competitor in the future.