The Boston Red Sox have won back to back AL East titles for the first time in team history, and will face the Houston Astros in the divisional round of the MLB playoffs.
With the 2017 regular season in the books for the Red Sox, report cards are due for the players who significantly contributed this season.
SP Chris Sale – Even though Sale has faded in August and September, ask yourself one question: where would the Red Sox be without Sale this season?
He came up short in the pursuit of the Red Sox all time most strikeouts in a season record, but he provided the Red Sox something they have not had in a while: attitude and demeanor on the mound while finishing in the Cy Young award conversation.
RF Mookie Betts – Betts has not enjoyed the same type of success he had last year, but Mookie still was unquestionably the Red Sox best hitter this year. He led the team in home runs and RBIs, and knocked in more than 100 runs for the second straight season.
His average (.264) should definitely be higher, but he also added 26 stolen bases and excellent defense in Fenway’s large right field.
RP Craig Kimbrel – He showed us flashes of what he was capable of last year, but his control was not reliable. This year, Kimbrel was a weapon coming out late in games.
He hit a bump in the road in the month of August, where he posted a 2.70 ERA, but that just speaks to how dominant he was when he was on. He ended the season by striking out 23 men in his last 13 innings pitched, issuing only three free passes and allowing only one run.
SP Drew Pomeranz – Pomeranz started off the season on the wrong foot. He did not look 100% focused in games and was constantly taxing the bullpen by not being able to pitch in the sixth inning.
Then May 20th came along, when Pomeranz was only able to pitch four innings, and manager John Farrell ripped him a new one in the dugout. From that point on, Pomeranz has gone on to start in 24 games, pitching 135.2 innings, allowing 43 runs to the tune of a 2.85 ERA. He is one of the saviors for the 2017 Red Sox.
LF Andrew Benintendi – If you told me that Benintendi would launch 20 home runs, bat in 90 runs and provide good defense in Fenway’s tricky left field, I would be more than happy.
And here we stand, with Benintendi providing the Red Sox a terrific rookie season and a very bright future to look forward to. The swing is there, the athleticism is there, if he could add just a little more power to start flirting with 30 home runs, Benny Biceps will be a top five player in the league.
Manager John Farrell – I’ve been critical of Farrell before, but give credit when credit is due: Farrell has led the Red Sox to back to back AL East division titles for the first time in team history.
Is it mostly Farrell’s doing? Not entirely, but he managed his way around a mine bomb of a bullpen early in the season when Kimbrel was the only reliable reliever, and he has certainly provided his fair share of noteworthy mistakes (see: Farrell attempting to pull Reed in the Bronx) but this is a results-driven league, and Farrell has delivered.
C Christian Vazquez – The Red Sox may have finally found their catcher of the future. We all knew Vazquez was terrific behind the plate, especially his cannon, but whether he would be able to hit consistently was the main concern.
Vazquez seems to have put aside those concerns, posting a .290 batting average and a .330 on-base percentage. He does not have much power, but any catcher that is getting on base on 33% of his plate appearances is doing a good job.
2B Dustin Pedroia – Pedey missed 57 games this season, but he still contributed to the 2017 Red Sox ball club. His slash line, .293/.369/.760, was good, along with seven home runs and 62 RBIs in 105 games.
He provided excellent defense, when healthy, and while he did not look good during either the Baltimore incident or the Eckersley incident, his postseason experience will be needed to help steer the young players along.
SS Xander Bogaerts – It’s a shame to see Bogey not play up to his ability consistently enough. Xander played well in the first half of the season, where he posted a solid slash line of .303/.359/.806, he crashed down to .235/.324/.671 in the second half.
His defense has been improved since last year, but Bogaerts needs to be able to swing the bat more consistently throughout the grind of a 162 game season. Xander started to play better in the month of September, and the Red Sox will need him to perform better to help improve their postseason chances.
1B Mitch Moreland – The Red Sox got more from Moreland than they surely expected, as he launched 22 home runs, and knocked in 79 runs, as well as providing solid defense at first, and being able to play 149 games, third most on the team.
For a one year, $5.5 million contract, the Red Sox could not be more content with what Moreland has brought to the table. Perhaps another year donning the Red Sox uniform is on the table for Mitchy two bags.
SP Rick Porcello – A disappointing year for the reigning AL Cy Young winner. After winning 22 games a season ago, Porcello flirted with 20 losses this season, but ended up losing 17 decisions.
Looking at the plus side of things, he did take the ball every fifth day and gave the Red Sox over 200 innings again. The quality of those innings were not good though, as he was the most hittable pitcher in baseball this season.
SP Eduardo Rodriguez – E-Rod has given the Red Sox more of the same this year. Flashes of brilliance and a glimpse of his upside, but also starts where you question what he will ultimately amass to.
He was on fire leading up to the knee injury that landed him on the DL, and struggled after he was activated. He then put together a string of good starts before being pummeled in his last start of the season.
RP Matt Barnes – An up and down year for Barnes, which is more of the same from the inconsistent reliever.
His home numbers are solid, pitching to the tune of a 2.77 ERA, amassing 54 strikeouts and walking only eight men in 39 innings pitched. On the road, he was a disaster. Barnes pitched 30.2 innings on the road, with a 5.28 ERA, striking out 29 and walking 20 (!) men.
While he was a different man at Fenway than away, it is always good to have a player like Barnes on your ball club, who can eat up innings and give you mostly quality innings.
CF Jackie Bradley Jr – Another hot start for JBJ, and another disappointing end to the season for him. His defense has been spectacular this year, like it always has been, but his bat is too streaky.
Unlike Xander, Bradley did not have a good September, it was actually his worst month of the season. With an ugly postseason last year still fresh in the mind of most Red Sox fans, there does not seem to be much indication for him to improve.
1B/DH Hanley Ramirez – Ramirez was the Red Sox one hope for a consistent power bat that can drive the ball to all parts of the ball park. That hope did not pay off this season.
Hanley was wildly inconsistent this season, and his focus seemed to be in question for most of the year. He, like Bradley, had the worst month of the season in September, unlike last year, when he was the hardest out in baseball. If focused, Hanley could be a difference-maker in October.
3B Rafael Devers – Devers didn’t play much this year (only 58 games), but he proved he can hit major league pitching. He was able to hit for power, blasting ten home runs, but also was able to post a .284 batting average.
His defense though, should raise some concerns. His 14 errors and .906 fielding percentage will simply not to do at one of baseball’s most important defensive positions. Hitting-wise though, Sox fans should be excited for the youngster.
SP/RP David Price – Injuries have limited Price to under 100 innings pitched for the first time since his rookie season, when he only appeared in five games. Nonetheless, Price did put along a stretch of good starts, as well as being a weapon out of the bullpen.
He has featured some of his best stuff since signing his massive contract with the Red Sox this season, and it will be interesting to see how they deploy him in the playoffs.