Report Cards: April 2018

Alex Cora: A

-Cora has led the Red Sox to the best record in the MLB through April in his 1st month as a manager. He’s stayed true to his plan and philosophy of getting guys plenty of rest, which has allowed the role players like Moreland and Holt to get enough reps to remain in a groove and produce. He’s made a couple questionable in-game decisions (not pulling Price in the 8th vs. Oakland is the first one that comes to mind), but all-in-all has been the cool-headed captain of a cruising ship.

Xander Bogaerts: A+

-Despite missing over 2 weeks with a minor ankle fracture, Bogey gets the highest grade for April, and with due cause; he’s been the best offensive weapon for the Sox. He’s hitting .412 with a mind boggling 1.171 OPS. 11 of his 21 hits have been for extra bases, he’s driven in 15 runs and scored 8 of his own in just 12 games. If there’s any doubt as to how important he’s been to the offense, just look at how badly they began sputtering towards the tail end of his absence. He’s so vital at the back end of the heart of the order, if only because he adds yet another force that pitchers have to be wary of in the 5-6 slot.

Mookie Betts: A+

-Betts has been phenomenal from the leadoff spot so far. Not only is he hitting .344 with a .439 OBP and 29 runs scored, he’s also added 8 HR, 18 RBI and 3 steals. He’s been the lynchpin for everything good that the top of the Boston order has done. Oh yeah, he’s also living up to his reputation as an elite defensive outfielder, with multiple hit stealing catches that aren’t made by most.

Hanley Ramirez: A

-After looking pretty poor last year (albeit with 2 busted shoulders), Ramirez looks like a man reborn in 2018. He’s hitting .330/.400/.474 with 3 HR and 17 RBI. He’s already amassed 3 game-winning hits in the 7th inning or later, and he’s been solid with the glove during his shared time at 1st base. He also has a team co-high 3 steals. There’s been nothing but smiles from Hanley, and that’s a great thing to see.

Brock Holt: A

-The Brockstar has been one of the more valuable members of the Red Sox off the bench. He started slow (1-21 in his first 7 games), but since then he’s gone 16-34 with 6 doubles and a home run. He’s sporting a .340 BA for the season, and when he returns from injury he’ll be riding a 9-game hitting streak. He’s also continued to prove his value as a utility man, playing 4 different positions for the Sox.

(Photo credit: NESN)

J.D. Martinez: A-

-Martinez began the year so slow that he had some people calling him the new Pablo Sandoval. He’s proven them wrong in a big way, though, putting up a .337/.384/.574 slash line with 5 HR and a team high 22 RBI while using all parts of the field. His defensive efforts have been sloppy at times, but he’s delivered in the most important way, by acting as the power presence in the middle of the order that Boston missed last year. He’s docked half a grade for striking out 33 times already, but expect that K% to creep downwards as he continues to get more comfortable in his new environment.

Mitch Moreland: A-

-Not everyone expected Mitch Moreland to play such a big role in this squad so early, but he’s been exactly what the Sox re-signed him for. He’s hitting a somewhat surprising .305, has been a nice power threat in the middle of the order with a .559 SLG% (3 HR, 6 2B), and has provided his trademark Gold Glove caliber defense at 1st base. It’s been a very good start for the unsung giant of the Red Sox clubhouse.

Rafael Devers: C

-For all of the natural born talent that Devers has, he hasn’t quite put it all together yet this year and gotten rolling. There’s been glimpses (like the bomb he hit against the Angels a couple weeks back), but he seems to be a tad bit overzealous at the plate at times, as his 32 K’s indicates. He’s been very frustrating defensively as well, accounting for 5 of Boston’s 7 errors so far this season. There’s little doubt that he’ll come around eventually though, and a C is a fair grade for a guy hitting .257 with 4 HR and 21 RBI, all things considered.

Andrew Benintendi: C

-It’s been a bit up-and-down from Benintendi early on. He has 8 multi-hit games out of 26 (24 as a starter), and collected 11 walks in his first 10 games, but he also has 12 no-hit games and has walked just 6 times in his last 16. His power hasn’t been there yet, with only 1 HR so far, but he has hit 7 doubles and 2 triples while driving in 15.

Tzu-Wei Lin: C

-Lin has been a perfectly suitable replacement to Xander Bogaerts to start and then Brock Holt later on. Despite only hitting only .207, he has compiled a .303 OBP and 4 RBI in just 29 AB’s, all while providing solid defense from multiple infield spots.

Eduardo Nunez: C-

-When assigning Nunez a grade, it’s important to consider expectations entering the season. He was never being counted on to be a replica of Dustin Pedroia, the guy he replaced late last year. With that being said, it still hasn’t been great from Nunez, but it also hasn’t been horrible. At .240/.277/.375, he’s been solid enough towards the bottom 1/3 of the order. Although he’s only recorded 1 error thus far, he’s missed a few plays that he should be expected to make, docking him the extra half a grade he would have otherwise received.

Jackie Bradley, Jr.: C-

-Bradley has been somewhat disappointing in 2018. His defensive prowess has never been in question, and he’s continued to be spectacular at times with the glove, but .195/.290/.310 is far below the already tempered expectations from JBJ. He’s never going to be a .300 hitter, but he should be able to reach base at a .300 OBP clip while adding 15-20 home runs a year (he’s on pace to hit only 12 this year). It needs to be better from him.

Blake Swihart: C-

-Swihart hasn’t had much of a chance to show what he can do, with only 20 AB in 12 appearances, but when he has been given the opportunity he hasn’t taken advantage of it. He’s hitting .150/.190/.200 with just 1 XBH and 1 RBI. Given a more steady role, he may find his way into a groove and begin producing, but with Pedroia and Holt both returning at some point, who knows if he’ll even be around long enough to do so.

Christian Vazquez: D+

-For all of the talk about Vasquez’s potential for a breakout year, he’s been mostly quiet both at and behind the plate so far. He’s hitting just .187 with 3 RBI and has thrown out only 2 of the 7 base runners attempting steals against him. He’s been vital in helping the pitching staff begin the year as one of the better units in the league, so he’s awarded an extra half a grade.

Sandy Leon: D

-The catcher position is obviously the weak spot in the Red Sox lineup, and Sandy Leon has been the weakest link in that position. As a backup catcher, he’s being held accountable to simply call a good game and play solid defense more than anything, but a little work with the bat would be nice, and Leon is hitting a measly .129. Like Vazquez, he’s awarded an extra half a grade for helping the pitching staff get off to a great start.

Rick Porcello: A+

-Porcello has been magnificent for the Red Sox so far. In 6 starts, he’s 4-0 and is carrying a 2.23 ERA and a .84 WHIP in 40 IP. He’s averaging almost 9 K/9, has given up just 4 walks and 1 HR, and has pitched at least 6 innings on 4 occasions.

Chris Sale: A

-Sale has been exactly what Boston hoped and expected. He’s only 2-1 in 6 starts, but his 2.31 ERA and .97 WHIP are both 2nd among Boston starters, and he’s racked up 45 K’s in only 35 IP. His 4 HR allowed are a little worrisome, but overall he’s been phenomenal at the top of the rotation.

Craig Kimbrel: A

-With Boston’s red hot start to the year, Kimbrel didn’t see many opportunities to pitch in high leverage situations until just recently. That hasn’t stopped him from building upon his excellent 2017, though, as Kimbrel is 7-for-7 in save opportunities and has a .77 ERA with 15 K’s through 11.2 IP. His home run allowed to Curtis Granderson up in Toronto docks him half a grade here.

Hector Velazquez: A

-What a revelation Velazquez has been. He’s only featured in 7 games, but 2 of them were starts in place of the injured Drew Pomeranz. He boasts a 2.05 ERA in 22 IP, and has been a valuable asset as a long reliever out of the bullpen since transitioning there.

Bobby Poyner: A

-It was quite the run for the non-roster invitee to Spring Training. After making the Opening Day squad, Poyner thoroughly impressed with a 2.57 ERA in 6 relief appearances. He’s since been sent back down to the minors to clear room for Pomeranz and Rodriguez, but expect to see him back at some point.

Matt Barnes: A

-Barnes joins Velazquez, Kelly and Poyner as welcomes surprises in the bullpen. He has a 2.61 ERA and has held opponents to a sub-.100 BA, all while racking up 15 K’s in just over 10 IP. His fastball and curveball have both looked good, and he seems ready to take on one of the setup roles for Craig Kimbrel.

Joe Kelly: A-

-Kelly was the bane of all of Red Sox Nation after allowing 4 runs to Tampa on Opening Day. Since then, all he’s done is throw 11.1 scoreless innings and taken on the Yankees’ Tyler Austin in a bench clearing brawl that officially reignited the greatest rivalry in all of sports.

David Price: B-

-Price has been both good and bad this year. When he’s been good, he’s been excellent, allowing just 5 runs in 26.2 IP in 4 starts. When he’s been bad, however, it’s been really quite atrocious, to the tune of 10 runs in just 6.2 IP. His velocity has been good, though, and he seems to have his stuff on point for the most part. Add in the fact that he’s shown the ability to pitch deep into games with that elbow that’s given him problems, and it was a pretty nice April for Price.

Brian Johnson: C+

-Johnson gave Boston a nice start in place of E-Rod to begin the year, and has provided some good work out of the bullpen, all while not really being expected to produce much of anything. His last 2 outings have been a little rough, leading to his somewhat inflated 4.76 ERA, but it’s been mostly good from Johnson.

Marcus Walden: C+

-Like Poyner, Walden unexpectedly made the final cut after being a non-roster invitee to Spring Training. He wasn’t quite as impressive as Poyner, but still showed well enough in his limited time, posting a 4.91 ERA while eating up 11 innings over 7 appearances. Considering his expectations going into the season, he’s awarded a full grade extra.

Eduardo Rodriguez: C

-Rodriguez has been a mixed bag so far. In 5 outings, he has 3 quality starts in which he combined for 18.2 IP, 14 hits, 6 runs and 16 K’s. In his other 2 starts, he’s combined for 7.2 IP, 10 hits, 5 walks and 8 runs. His stuff has been inconsistent; it’s been very good when he’s on, but it’s been pretty flat when he’s not. Average is about an apt a description as there ever was for E-Rod in 2018.

Heath Hembree: C

-Like a lot of the pitching staff, Hembree has been up and down for Boston. His 4.05 ERA is a little worse than his performances suggest, but overall he’s been about what was expected from him, a decent middle innings guy who can help save the more important bullpen arms for more important situations.

Drew Pomeranz: C-

-Pomeranz was better than his numbers suggest in his 1st start vs. Oakland, but was really quite awful in his 2nd start vs. Tampa. He’s still pretty fresh off of that forearm strain that kept him out for almost 2 months, so a little leeway is needed when judging him, but his leash will begin getting shorter if he continues to struggle.

Carson Smith: D

-Smith has been by far the most disappointing pitcher for the Red Sox this year. Aside from a couple occasions, Smith has failed to record an outing without allowing a base runner. He’s allowed 8 hits and 6 walks in 8.2 IP, resulting in a 5.19 ERA.

(Header photo credit: Over the Monster)

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