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Red Sox Report Card – June 2018

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Real talk – there was little chance that the Red Sox were going to be able to match the phenomenal across-the-board performance they put up in the month of May. We had to know that there would be at least a little regression in June.

And that’s what we got – a little regression. A VERY little regression.

As June came to a close, the Red Sox sat atop the American League East with a 56-28 record, the best in the major leagues. In June, they went 17-10 and were among the league leaders in just about every category that matters. And yet … they were just a game ahead of the Yankees, who happen to have the second-best record in the big leagues.

All in all, it looks like Boston is going to have to keep it up if they want to stay ahead of their longtime rivals. But hey – they keep having months like June and they should be good to go.

On to the Report Card.

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Hitting – A-

The offense didn’t quite reach the heights this month that it did back in May, but this crew still had a pretty darned good run. They were third in the league in runs scored despite a dip to the middle of the pack in home runs, thanks to a .267 batting average (good for second) and an OPS of .781 (also second). J.D. Martinez led the charge in June, slashing a ridiculous .347/.425/.612 for the month to go along with seven homers, 20 RBI and 22 runs scored. Mookie Betts cooled down a little bit, but he still batted .290 and put up an OPS just shy of .900. Rafael Devers had one of his better months as a big leaguer, batting .284 with five homers and driving in 18. Andrew Benintendi had a good June as well, hitting half-a-dozen homers and pulling a team-leading 14 walks. Christian Vazquez and Xander Bogaerts have hit pretty well also. Eduardo Nunez and Jackie Bradley Jr. have struggled, but everyone else has been at least decent with the bat.

Starting Pitching – B+

This might actually be a touch low – I’d listen to an argument for an A- if you made one. The rotation had a pretty strong month overall. Chris Sale had another phenomenal performance, striking out 60 in 41 innings over his six starts and putting up an ERA of 1.76 and a frankly ludicrous 0.76 WHIP. But you expect that. What you don’t expect is a month from David Price that reminds you of the good old days; Price went 4-1 in his five starts, with a 2.90 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP and a strikeout an inning. Rick Porcello bounced back from a not-great May to put up OK numbers (3.48 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 29 Ks in 31 innings), while Steven Wright stepped in for the injured Drew Pomeranz and performed decently (though his walk numbers are troubling). Eduardo Rodriguez struggled for much of the month, producing numbers that were mediocre at best. But when the worst you’ve got is mediocre, well … that’s a pretty good month out of the starting rotation.

Bullpen – A-

There are a lot of guys having really good years in the Boston bullpen; their respective June performances certainly reflect the quality of their seasons. As always, it starts with closer Craig Kimbrel, whose 2.16 ERA and six-for-six save conversion rate are strong but not eye-popping. You want popped eyes, look at some of his other stats – the 0.96 WHIP or the 15 Ks in 8 innings or the insane .040 batting average against. Some of his bullpen mates have been almost as impressive – Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman were both lights out for the entire month. Brian Johnson and Hector Velasquez have been almost as good. It’s an outstanding unit. Granted, there were a few hiccups; Joe Kelly came crashing back down after a fantastic start to the season – in his 11 June appearances, he put up an 8.31 ERA. A couple of other guys were bad, but only appeared in small doses. All in all, this group had a heck of a month.

Fielding – B

Much of the impact of this group continues to ride on the effectiveness of the outfield defense. Betts and Benintendi continue to flash the leather almost as well as they swing the bat, while Bradley’s glove ALMOST makes up for his abysmal work at the plate. In the infield, Mitch Moreland is a steady hand at first base and Xander Bogaerts continues to hold his own at shortstop. Devers remains erratic at the hot corner, but he’s still showing flashes; he’ll figure it out – he’s too talented not to. There are some holes, but the glovework overall is fairly solid.

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