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Red Sox Report Card – September 2017

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And now, after six months and 162 games, we’ve come to the end of another Boston Red Sox regular season. 2017 has been a good year all told, with the Sox winning over 90 games and taking home a division crown.

Boston won the AL East thanks to a solid September (and one game in October). They put up an 17-11 mark over that stretch, closing out the season strong. While there have been some bumps along the way, they certainly earned their spot in the playoffs with their performance over the season’s final month.

And now, it all resets to zero. Now, it’s all about winning 11 more games – three in the Division Series, four in the League Championship Series and four in the World Series.

Still, why not take a look back at what worked – and what didn’t – in that final month?

On to the Report Card.

Hitting – C-

The bats struggled across the board for the Red Sox in the season’s final month. They were in the bottom half of the league in both batting average and on base percentage, while their slugging percentage was even worse. The dearth of power – a season-long problem – was pronounced in September; they were last in homers. Still, they managed to work their way well into the top half of the league in runs. Mookie Betts was the sole offensive standout for the month – six homers, five steals and 24 RBI to go with a .944 OPS. Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers were OK, but the rest of the lineup struggled mightily; Mitch Moreland and Jackie Bradley Jr. were particularly prominent culprits. Still, the numbers that really matter are the ones on the scoreboard and somehow, this team scored at a fair clip.

Starting Pitching – C+

September wasn’t particularly kind to the starting rotation either, though they held up a bit better than the offense. Chris Sale didn’t display nearly the dominance that we’ve come to expect – he went just 2-2 with a 3.72 ERA in his five September starts (albeit with 44 strikeouts – including his 300th – in 29 innings). Drew Pomeranz was 3-2, 3.69 in his six starts for the month. And Eduardo Rodriguez might have had the best month of any of them with a 3.33 ERA and more than a K an inning. On the flip side, both Rick Porcello (2-2, 5.93) and Doug Fister (2-2, 5.58) were flat-out terrible. The other numbers – stuff like WHIP and batting average against – also do not reflect kindly on the rotation’s performance. When it’s all added up, it’s basically just shy of mediocrity – not great, not awful.

Bullpen – A-

In many ways, this bunch has been what kept the team’s collective heads above water this month. Some great performances have been put up here. Closer Craig Kimbrel picked it back up in September, striking out 21 and giving up just a single run in 12 innings as he converted all four of his save opportunities. Guys like Austin Maddox and Carson Smith have been lights out, combining for 20 exceptional relief innings. And the much-maligned David Price has showed up, striking out 13 in nine innings and not giving up a run across five appearances. Heath Hembree, Addison Reed … the list goes on and on. Sure, guys like Matt Barnes and Robby Scott have been less than stellar, but the rest of the bullpen more than makes up for it. Whether this unit is a strength in October remains to be seen, but it certainly was in the month of September.

Fielding – B

The conversation about Boston’s glovework absolutely has to start with the outfield. While Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts have proven to be capable, dependable fielders, the story out there is Jackie Bradley Jr., who is one of the best defensive outfielders in the game today. Together, it’s as good a group as there is. The infield is less exciting. Xander Bogaerts remains a bit erratic and Rafael Devers has had his share of struggles at the hot corner. Dustin Pedroia remains as dependable as ever at second, while Mitch Moreland flashes one of the better gloves out there at first. Together, the group has had a solid September – one they hope to continue forward into the postseason.

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