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Red Sox Report Card - May 2018

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The conventional wisdom says that post-Memorial Day is when we can really start taking seriously the statistical trends that we’ve been watching play out on the field. And so, with the month of May in the rearview, it’s starting to look like this Red Sox team might actually BE this good.

May was certainly kind to the Red Sox. No American League team managed more wins than the 18 Boston put up. Nor did any AL squad top the team’s whopping 50 home runs for the month. Or the 295 strikeouts from the pitching staff. There was a bit of a power outage at Fenway last season, but the lights are definitely shining so far in 2018.

Yet even after two exceptional months, Boston’s 39-18 record is a mere 1.5 games ahead of the 35-17 output of the Yankees. So there you have it – May may have been a monster month, but the Sox are going to have to keep it going to stave off their division rivals.

But yeah – it was a good month to be a Red Sox fan.

On to the Report Card.

Hitting – A

I mean, what else was I going to give them? This team spent the month putting on a magnificent power display. Those 50 homers led to 144 runs – second in the league. Their .261 batting average and .321 OBP put them fifth and seventh, respectively, but their .481 slugging sits second. Leading the charge are the guys you’d expect. Mookie Betts is having an MVP-type season; his May numbers include nine homers, 19 RBI, 23 runs scored and a ludicrous slash line of .372/.434/.766. He even stole 10 bases. Meanwhile, J.D. Martinez hit 13 homers for the month, leading the league. Andrew Benintendi hit almost .350 with an OPS of 1.044. Mitch Moreland has continued hitting well too. Despite being dragged down a bit by May scufflers like Rafael Devers, Jackie Bradley Jr. and even Xander Bogaerts, the overall offensive performance has been excellent.

Starting Pitching – B-

It feels weird to rate the rotation of a team performing this well this low, but the proof is in the pudding. Other than in strikeouts, this group hasn’t put up particularly impressive numbers overall. Granted, that’s all relative – Chris Sale hasn’t been the absolute terror we’ve seen in the past, but he’s still really good. His 3.15 ERA and 0.95 WHIP speak to that, as do his 59 strikeouts in 40 innings. But he’s not the problem. It’s the rest of the cohort that are to blame. Drew Pomeranz and Rick Porcello both had terrible Mays – Pomeranz had an ERA of nearly seven in his six starts, while Porcello saw opponents hit nearly .300 against him. David Price was slightly better, while Eduardo Rodriguez actually had a strong month – 3.18 ERA, 43 Ks in 34 innings. While Sale and Rodriguez were quite good, Porcello and Pomeranz were so bad that the rotation basically averages out to slightly better than David Price. That’s as good a reason for a B- as I’ve ever heard.

Bullpen – A-

These guys, on the other hand, have been really quite good. They’ve certainly done their part to prop up the starters and allow the bats a chance to win a few games. Now, usually when we talk about Boston’s most dominant reliever, we talk about Craig Kimbrel; however, his May numbers, while strong – 11 saves in 13 chances, a 0.83 WHIP, 19 Ks in 13 innings, 3.38 ERA – haven’t marked him the most effective in the pen. That honor goes to Joe Kelly, who spent May destroying opposing batters. In 14 games, Kelly pitched 14 innings, giving up just five hits and one lone run – his ERA was 0.63 and his WHIP 0.70. That’s dominance. But other guys like Carson Smith and Matt Barnes and Steven Wright have all performed admirably. The only dings on the group are the 20 combined not-good appearances from Heath Hembree and Brian Johnson. Still – heck of a month.

Fielding – B+

I didn’t expect they’d still look this good defensively, but the Red Sox have continued to look good in the field. The outfield remains impressive – the regular trio of Betts, Benintendi and Bradley is as elite a defensive group as there is in MLB. Those three can straight up go and get it. Bogaerts continues to look good with the glove. Mitch Moreland has been very good at first, and now that Hanley Ramirez has been sent on his way, we get more Moreland. Devers continues to perform erratically; flashes of excellence followed by unfortunate hiccups. And we’ll have to see if Dustin Pedroia can shake off the rust of a long absence. All told, they’ve looked pretty good.

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