With the postseason now upon us, let’s look back at the players of the Boston Red Sox and see how they performed as a unit and team.
First Base (Mitch Moreland)- When signing Mitch Moreland to a one-year deal in this past offseason, Dave Dombrowski knew that he was was not receiving a heavy hitter. Instead, what he was looking for was a consistent hitter and fielder. That is exactly what he got in return. Moreland finished his season with a .246 batting average, which is not all that abnormal for him with his career .252 average. His fielding percentage that he posted was at .995. That and only five errors over 1,010 chances. Believe it or not, this is not a career high percentage for him, it is in fact his second lowest.
2017 First Base Final Grade: B
Second Base (Dustin Pedroia/Eduardo Nunez)- Even though neither of these men could maintain solid health throughout this season, their absence was felt at the plate, and on the field. When Nunez was brought in mid-season, he helped serve as the re-invigoration of the offense at the time. He contributed a career high, .313 batting average and eight home runs in 38 games. Pedroia, despite missing a good chunk of the season with injuries had a decent year, mainly because of his near-perfect defensive work. He did not bring any much-needed “pop” to the table as he had the lowest slugging percent on the team, but was getting on base the most among everyone else.
2017 Second Base Final Grade: B
Shortstop (Xander Bogaerts)- Xander Bogaerts underperformed this year in a major way. His home run tally dropped by 11 from last year (21), he also committed an additional five errors, making his total for the season, a team-leading 17 blunders. His only real claim to fame was his 156 hits, however, the vast majority being single base hits.
2017 Shortstop Final Grade: C+
Third Base (Rafael Devers)- Rafael Devers, for the most part solved the problem at third base, often impressing as a rookie and the youngest player on the team. The 20-year old hit a home run for his first hit back in July and provided a strong bat during the course of the tail-end of the season with 10 total homers and a strong .809 OPS. While he is a polished hitter, his defense is still a major work in progress. As previously noted, he debuted in the late days of July. From then until the end of the year, he committed a total of 14 errors. That is the fourth most among third basemen in the league.
2017 Third Base Final Grade- B
Left Field (Andrew Benintendi)- Without Aaron Judge paving his way to the American League Rookie of the Year title, Andrew Benintendi would be a legitimate candidate and maybe even a possible front-runner for the award. His season started out with a great big bang in the first game of the season when he hit a home run as a part of a three-RBI day. His season batting average finished at .271, despite having a seven game stretch back in May where he didn’t record a single hit.
He learned the left-field wall in a swift manner, as he only committed five errors all year. He is also one of two Red Sox players this year to join the 20/20 club (20 home runs/20 stolen bases).
2017 Left Field Final Grade- B+
Center Field (Jackie Bradley Jr.)- Jackie Bradley Jr. was never pegged to be a star at the plate this year, but on the field, he was a total gem. His batting average dipped 22 points from last year. He has never been much of a solid batter, but his fielding is near-mint. He has made some exceptional plays. Wall jumps and diving plays helped prevent numerous runs from scoring. For that, he gets bonus points.
2017 Center Field Final Grade- B-
Right Field (Mookie Betts) – This is not the MVP-caliber Mookie Betts that we saw in his 2016 campaign. Granted he led the team in slugging percent this year, but is an entirely different player from what we have previously seen. He led the team in home runs, stolen bases, hits, runs, and doubles. He is the second of two members of the Sox to be in the 20/20 club this season. He, like Bradley Jr. also made high quality plays in his respective position.
2017 Right Field Final Grade- B+
Catchers (Christian Vazquez/ Sandy Leon)– For Sandy Leon, his first half of the season was far better than his second in terms of batting. But in the case of Christian Vazquez, he saw smaller amounts of success, but only got better post All-Star break. They both combined for a .992 fielding percentage, and six pickoffs of runners. Vazquez had five of those, and Leon had one.
2017 Catchers Final Grade- B+
Relief Pitchers (Craig Kimbrel/ Matt Barnes/ Joe Kelly/ Heath Hembree/ Robby Scott/ Fernando Abad/ Brandon Workman/ Blaine Boyer/ David Price/Etc..) – This Red Sox bullpen provided in a big way this season. They were ranked second among all other relievers in the entire league in the ERA column (3.15). They finished fifth in opponent batting average (.226).
This is a major step-up from the previous year.
2017 Relief Pitchers Final Grade- A
Starting Pitchers(Chris Sale/ Drew Pomeranz/ David Price/ Eduardo Rodriguez/ Rick Porcello/ Doug Fister/Etc..)- Unlike the relievers, the starters did not see as much considerable success as a whole unit, but individual successes are a whole separate conversation for another day. This crew ranked eighth in the majors in ERA (4.09), and fourth in the American League. They ranked second in the AL in strikeouts (1,001), and third in complete games (5).
2017 Starting Pitchers Final Grade- B+