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Red Sox Report Card – June 2017

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With the end of June, we’ve basically reached the de facto halfway point of the MLB season. Sure, the All-Star break is generally considered “midseason,” but in terms of a true midpoint, the end of June is it – three months down, three to go.

The Red Sox put up a solid 16-12 mark in the month of June, though we haven’t seen the sort of extended breakout many fans have been anticipating. Despite a surprising number of mediocre-or-worse performances, Boston is situated nicely as far as the postseason picture is concerned, ending the month atop the American League East standings.

Yes, there’s a long way to go, but for now, things are looking pretty good – especially because this team definitely has plenty of room to grow.

On to the Report Card.

Hitting – C-

It’s disappointing to have to give the offense such a low June grade after their torrid May. Unfortunately, the numbers don’t lie – Boston is at the bottom of the middle of the pack in most of the important offensive categories. Despite a phenomenal month from Jackie Bradley – slashing .353/.431/.578 with four homers, 15 RBI and 15 runs scored – the rest of the lineup has been decent (Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi), mediocre (Xander Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia, Mitch Moreland) or pretty bad (Hanley Ramirez, pretty much anyone who played third base). For the month, they were 12h in home runs, ninth in batting average, 12th in slugging and 11th in runs scored. These are not the numbers that the team’s May performance led us to expect; the offense has been flat-out anemic. We’ve seen flashes, but flashes aren’t nearly enough in the surprisingly competitive AL East.

Starting Pitching – B-

The performances by the starting pitchers were all over the map this month. On the side of good, we start with Chris Sale, who spent June being his typical dominating self. He went 4-1 in his five starts while putting up an ERA of 2.78, a sub-one WHIP and striking out 45 in 35 innings. Drew Pomeranz also had a strong June, putting up a 3.00 ERA in five starts and striking out almost a batter an inning. Less impressive is the work of David Price, who managed a mediocre month in his half-dozen starts; 4.50 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, struggles with command. And reigning AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello outright stunk – he was 1-4 in six starts with an ugly 6.63 ERA and an uglier 1.58 WHIP; opposing batters hit .323 against him for the month. Guys like Doug Fister and Brad Johnson also failed to shine. Sale’s continued excellence buoys this grade.

Bullpen – A

The bullpen’s performance in June was very similar to its performance in May in some significant ways. Chief among them is the work done by Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly. Closer Kimbrel wasn’t QUITE as good as he was in May – he actually gave up a couple of runs in June – but he still went eight for eight in save opportunities and struck out 19 in 12 innings. Kelly, on the other hand, went another month without allowing a single earned run over a dozen appearances. Blaine Boyer had an impressive June as well, sporting a 2.16 ERA in 11 games. Heath Hembree and Matt Barnes both had decent months as well; Robbie Scott and Fernando Abad were OK. Add it up you’ve got a heck of a month for the Boston pen.

Fielding – C

Third base remains a defensive black hole, though there have been glimmers of improvement among the many, MANY players Boston has trotted out to the hot corner. Bogaerts tends to have the occasional misfire, though he continues to smooth things out. Mitch Moreland has looked more like the Gold Glove-winning fielder he was expected to be. The outfield defense remains strong, albeit a touch erratic - Betts and Benintendi have been a bit inconsistent, though Jackie Bradley looks as good as ever. Things still look OK at catcher; the caught stealing numbers have been solid overall. 

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