At 13-2, Boston Red Sox are off to their best start in franchise history. The pitching (especially the starters), have been very good, and after a slow start to the year, the bats have picked it up of late. If you haven’t been fortunate enough to follow along closely (life can do that to you sometimes), here’s a guide to who’s been excelling for Boston so far, and who could use a little reversal of fortune.
-Mookie Betts: Betts has been the best offensive player for the Sox since that first series vs. Tampa. So far this year, he’s hitting .353/.452/1.059. He leads the team in hits and runs scored, and is tied for the lead in doubles. He has 2 HR and 10 RBI, and has also tacked on 2 steals for good measure. He’s been the catalyst at the top of the order for a Red Sox offense that ranks second in runs per game, so often providing the 2-5 hitters behind him with an all-important base runner to drive in.
-Xander Bogaerts: Bogey has missed the last few games with an ankle injury, but he exploded out of the gate this year when the rest of the squad was slumping to start. In just 9 games played, he’s 2nd on the team in BA, tied for 1st in doubles, and tied for 2nd in home runs. He began the year by hitting at least 1 extra base hit in each of the first 6 games, and will look to continue that dominance when he returns from the DL later this month.
-Hanley Ramirez: Ramirez has been red hot for the Sox. Those shoulder issues that caused him so many problems last season seem to be completely gone, and he’s swinging the bat with purpose and vigor again. At .333/.386/.955 with 3 HR and a league leading (at the time of writing) 15 RBI, Ramirez has been a force in the heart of the order for Boston. That smile that was so ever-present in 2016 and missing so often in 2017 is back, and his shenanigans with the media and fans are long gone. He seems happy and ready to work for this club and this city.
-The entire rotation: In the interest of saving space, just read this.
-Andrew Benintendi: Over the first 8 games of the season, Benintendi hit just .154, accumulating only 4 singles and 1 RBI. Since then, though, he’s hitting .385 with a 1.141 OPS, 4 doubles, 2 triples and 8 RBI. His early season woes seem to be behind him, and he looks ready to be an offensive stalwart in the 2-hole behind Betts.
-J.D. Martinez: In the first 2 series’ vs. Tampa and Miami, Martinez hit .200 with a measly .250 SLG%. As the man who was brought on to provide the power that was missing in 2017, Martinez had some of the more pessimistic members of Red Sox Nation worrying. All he’s done since then is hit .306 with 2 doubles, a triple, 3 HR (one being a grand slam) and 11 RBI. The ball is flying off of his bat, and as the weather warms it’s expected that these sort of numbers will grow along with the temperature.
–Mitch Moreland: After going 0-fer in his first 10 plate appearances, Moreland has 8 hits in his last 18 at-bats, 4 of them being doubles. He’s contributing in whichever spot in the order they put him in, and is adding Gold Glove level defense at first, to boot.
-Tzu-Wei Lin: He’s in the “heating up” category rather than the “hot” category simply because he’s only played in the last 5 games since being called up to replace the injured Xander Bogaerts. In that time, Lin has looked like an everyday big leaguer, hitting .500 with 2 doubles and 2 runs scored.
(Photo credit: Medium)
-Rafael Devers: Devers looked like a young man on a mission throughout the first week-and-a-half of the year. He racked up 9 RBI on 10 hits, to the tune of .323 BA with a .965 OPS. His BA has dropped way down to .250 since, and he’s added just 4 hits and 1 RBI to his season totals.
-Christian Vazquez: Many thought that Christian Vazquez was primed to have a breakout year this season, and that still may be a possibility, but he’s off to a slow start. So far, he’s hitting just .214 with no HR and only 3 RBI. He’s tallied only 2 XBH in 42 at-bats and has struck out 7 times. His defense and game management have been superb (it’s clear that’s something that he worked on in the offseason), but the bat has fallen behind.
-Jackie Bradley, Jr.: Despite displaying some of that highlight worthy defense he’s known for, JBJ has been just plain awful at the plate so far. At just .191/.296/.552, he’s been the weak link for a Red Sox team that has flown out of the gates and become one of the best offensive squads in the MLB. Batting at the bottom of the order, Boston doesn’t necessarily need him to be a juggernaut with the bat, but he can’t continue to be a rally killer/almost automatic out sort of guy if he hopes to survive among an extremely deep and talented pool of position players.
Honestly, Who Knows:
-The entire bullpen (minus Craig Kimbrel): Where to start with this bunch? There’s some guys who have come out of nowhere to be go-to arms (Bobby Poyner), some guys who are really good but are underperforming (Carson Smith), some guys who could be very solid options who have been way too inconsistent (Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes), and some guys who instill absolutely zero confidence in the fans and media with their abilities (Heath Hembree). Each of them have had some very good outings scattered throughout their collective 2018 resume, but all-in-all it’s been mostly maddeningly frustrating. There’s hope that the addition of Tyler Thornburg will provide a jolt of life into this group, but it’s anyone’s guess as to how it will all play out.