The American League East Champion Boston Red Sox are the next stop on our 2017 season recap roundup with a 93-69 record.
The Red Sox were consistent throughout most of the season with an average of 15.5 wins per month, including a down month in July when they finished 13-14. They actually got better after the All-Star Break with an 18-9 August and a 17-11 September/October. Boston won a season-high eight games in a row from the end of July into August, then went on another hot streak in September and won 14 out of 16 games.
Though it doesn’t look like it on the surface, the Red Sox were a solid offensive team. The power numbers were low with the least homers and second lowest slugging percentage in the AL, but where Boston lacked hitting the long ball, it made up for in doubles. The Red Sox were fourth in the AL in doubles and sixth in runs scored. By getting extra-base hits, the Red Sox extended innings, which made it easier to string together hits and score more runs. As a result, the Red Sox logged more at-bats than any other team in Major League Baseball.
Outfielder Mookie Betts led the Red Sox with 24 homers, 46 doubles, and a .459 slugging percentage. In addition to Betts, rookie outfielder Andrew Benintendi was outstanding with a .424 slugging percentage with 26 doubles and 20 homers. The Betts-Benitendi combination is likely to be dangerous for years to come.
To go with a solid offense, the Red Sox had a solid pitching staff. Boston tallied a team ERA of 3.70 and 3.40 strike out to walk ratio, both numbers were outperformed in the AL by only the Cleveland Indians. Of the six starting pitchers Boston used, three finished the season with a winning record in Chris Sale, Drew Pomeranz, and David Price. Sale and Pomeranz both won 17 games apiece, while Price finished the season just 6-3 in 16 starts. Closer Craig Kimbrel was as dominant as it gets and allowed just 11 runs and four blown saves in 67 appearances.
Despite lights-out pitching and solid offense, subpar defense was the Achilles heal of Boston. The Red Sox were 12th in the AL with a .982 fielding percentage and 13th in defensive efficiency at .680.
The Red Sox got better offensively with the addition of designated hitter J.D. Martinez. Though he hit 45 homers with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2017, Martinez is projected to slow his pace in 2018 to 31 dingers. However, given Martinez’s tendencies, Fenway Park should benefit him because even though Fenway Park is 420 feet to straightaway center field, it’s not as deep in the alleys as Chase Field. Martinez hit half of his homers in 2017 to center field. Martinez also has a tendency to lift balls rather than drive them, so he should have continued success at Fenway even if he does pull the ball toward the Green Monster.
The Red Sox will need the boost Martinez provides to their lineup to keep up with the offensive addition of designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees, but Boston’s pitching should continue to rule the AL East.
Photo by Brad Curnow