With the All-Star break looming on the horizon (it begins after Sunday’s game) I think
now is a good time as ever to take a look back over the first 94 games of the season and
grade out the Boston Red Sox. The categories we will use are the typical five: offense,
defense, starting pitching, bullpen, and coaching. Although the Red Sox’s 57-37 record (as
of Friday afternoon) is the best in baseball and 3.5 games up on the competition there
surely is room for improvement in nearly every category. Let’s begin with the offense:
Team Offensive Ranks:
Um, yeah so those are some pretty ridiculous numbers that the Sox offense has put up
thus far. The only reason they don’t get an A or an A+ is because of the lack of power,
which obviously has not been a big deal since they are hitting more doubles and triples
than anyone else. And more doubles means 24 more than the second place Tigers and 5
more triples than the second ranked teams. That is a lot. They are also hitting a very
good .281 with runners in scoring position.
In terms of fWAR the Sox have 4 players with a rating higher than 2 runs: Ellsbury 3.6,
Pedroia, 3.5, Ortiz 3.0, and Victorino 2.3.
As a frequent viewer of Sox games who had not checked the team statistic rankings in a
long time I have to say I was fairly stunned to see the Sox not only 1st in most categories
in the American League, but 1st in nearly every offensive
category in all of baseball. Fairly remarkable for a team that lost the everyday production
of Will Middlebrooks, currently Stephen Drew, Shane Victorino for multiple periods, David
Ortiz at the beginning of the year, and Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers. The Sox seem to
come up with timely hits and simply “get the job done” with runners in scoring position
any way they can.
Team Starting Pitching Ranks (including bullpen):
|AL Rank||9||2||15||2 (not good)||2||T6|
If this grade was done during the first month or so of the season the entire pitching staff
would have graded in the B+ to A- range, but since the Buchholz injury, Lester’s
regression, the Bailey meltdown, and Miller’s season ending injury the entire staff has
taken a huge hit. Consequently the Sox current 3 best arms are John Lackey, Felix
Doubront, and Koji Uehara. If I had told you this would be the case at the beginning of
the season you would have called me crazy, no doubt about it.
Overall the starting rotation for the Red Sox has been, well, average. At the beginning of
the season they flashed signs that they could be one of the best in baseball, but that
changed drastically in the month of June. 94 games into the season and here are the ERA
and fWAR of the Sox starting rotation:
The “ace” and “number 3” of the staff are pitching like the an average back end of the
rotation while the back end is pitching very well. And if you take Buchholz out of that
picture you get a pretty ugly rotation especially when you insert the Webster/Aceves
Yet, those 7 have produced a combined 54 quality starts, which is better than 80% of the
MLB. Thus, you take the good with the bad. However, unless Lester gets himself going
and Buchholz gets healthy this rotation, and therefore team, will struggle in the playoffs
because quality starts don’t win you playoff games.
Again, at the beginning of the year you would have been hard pressed to not place the
Red Sox bullpen in the top 5 of baseball, but like the starting rotation the pen has seen its
shares of pitfalls.
First, the closer situation has been a disaster. They have blown 14 saves, which is 6th
worst in all of baseball (the Yankees have blown 4). Yet there is a light at the end of the
tunnel named Koji Uehara. Koji (1.83 ERA 7 SV) has easily been the most reliable reliever
for the Red Sox and now has a handle on the closer job that should not be relinquished
barring injury or an uncharacteristic collapse.
Secondly, the Sox are still trying to figure out how to consistently bridge the gap to the
9th inning with a lead intact. Tazawa has been good (3.15 ERA), but not great while lefty
specialist Andrew Miller (2.64 ERA) is now done for the season. The loss of Franklin
Morales has certainly hurt, but Craig Breslow has been able to pick up the slack while
posting a 2.97 ERA.
Overall, the bullpen simply isn’t good enough and I would venture to guess that a trade
will be coming before the July 31 trade deadline.
The defense for the Red Sox in 2013 has not been excellent, but overall very good. They
have committed 49 errors which ranks 11th in all of baseball, have a DRS (Defensive
Runs Saved) of 10 which is 5th in baseball, and a UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating) of 3.2
which is tied for 4th in MLB. With the addition of Iglesias at SS/3B and a healthy Vicotrino
in RF those numbers stand to get better as the season moves forward.
On his own, Victorino has saved 11 runs (tied with Pedroia and in front of Ellsbury’s 7)
and has a UZR of 12.6, which is 4th best out of every player in baseball. Remember when
some people thought Victorino was a bad signing? Yes, I’m looking at you Keith Law.
Not much to say here other than John Farrell has done a remarkable job in Boston this
year. He has taken a 69 win team and turned them into the best team in baseball, has
squashed any 2012 similarities whatsoever, and has facilitated a clubhouse environment
that has allowed for the Red Sox to develop a team chemistry that is one of the best in
Overall, the Red Sox have been great but have a lot of room to improve especially on the
mound. If they can make a move for a solid reliever, maybe a starter, and keep hitting at
their current pace then there is no reason to think this team can’t seriously contend for a