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Red Sox Report Card – April 2021

May 5, 2021
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It’s a well-known fact that despite my insistence on doing it every year, my predictions with regard to professional sports outcomes are pretty hit or miss. Sometimes I do well, sometimes I miss horribly.

This year, as far as the Boston Red Sox are concerned, it has very much been the latter.

I genuinely thought that I was resisting the tug of my little homer heart when I downplayed Boston’s chances in the 2021 season. As always, I hope for the best from this squad, but my eyes told me that this was not going to be a great year for this team. The numbers said much the same.

And yet, here we are. The Red Sox led the American League in wins in the month of April, going 17-10 and sitting atop the American League East, a division in which I didn’t think they would even contend. And yes, there’s plenty of time for them to come back down to Earth, but for at least the first month, they are one of the teams to beat. It’s never great to be wrong, but this time certainly stings less than most.

On to the Report Card.

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Hitting – A

I mean, the team slashed .258/.322/.437 and led the league in OPS for the month – they have to get an A. While their 31 homers for the month leaves them tied for fifth in the AL, the Red Sox also wound up second in runs scored, just a couple behind the league-leading Astros. They led the league in both hits and doubles as well. The offense is led by J.D. Martinez, who seems determined to prove that last year’s underperformance was nothing more than a fluke – his April featured nine homers, 25 RBI and a slash line of .351/.430/.745. Rafael Devers hit seven bombs of his own, with an OPS of .958, while Xander Bogaerts batted a robust .330. Alex Verdugo has started strong as well. There are some stragglers, though – Bobby Dalbec and Hunter Renfroe have yet to get their affairs in order at the plate. While the top of the list looks strong, other guys will need to step up when some of the hot starters cool off. Still, that’s a pretty good April.

Starting Pitching – B

The starting rotation didn’t quite reach the heights of the offense in April, though they were still pretty solid. The charge is led by Eduardo Rodriguez, who looks to have bounced back from his COVID-related health issues. He nabbed the win in all four of his April starts, with a good 3.52 ERA and a great 0.87 WHIP while striking out just over a batter an inning. Nathan Eovaldi has been pretty good in his six starts, while Nick Pivetta sports an impressive 2.81 ERA over his five starts (though he needs to get his walks down). On the flip side, we have guys like Garrett Richards, Martin Perez and Tanner Houck, who have ranged from average to not-good over the course of the month. That said, for a group that was projected to be a real detriment, the rotation has performed admirably over the first month. It remains to be seen if the strugglers can right the ship and if the top guys can maintain their current level of performance.

Bullpen – B+

Another group that has outperformed projections on the whole. It was anticipated that the bullpen might be a concern for the Red Sox, but thus far, they’ve been pretty solid. Leading the way is closer Matt Barnes, who has shunted aside any question about his hold on the role. He was six-for-six in save opportunities while striking out 25 in just 14 innings. Opponents batted just .106 against him. He’s looked dominant. Other guys like Matt Andriese and Garrett Whitlock have looked great as well, while Hirokazu Sawamura and Adam Ottavino have gotten it done. Everyone else has been at least competent, with the exception of Josh Taylor’s ugly start (8.68 ERA, 2.46 WHIP in 10 appearances). A strong bullpen is a major key to success in today’s game, so Boston fans will have to hope that this group maintains its April level of performance going forward.

Defense – C-

Thus far, this Red Sox team doesn’t appear to have the same sort of defensive acumen that we’ve seen in recent years. They’re definitely in the bottom third of the league for the month with regard to their work with the glove. We’ve come to expect a certain inconsistency from the left side of the infield; Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers are both talented, but prone to the occasional fielding mishap. Across the diamond, young Bobby Dalbec is still getting the feel for playing first at this level. The outfield defense is meh – serviceable, but unimpressive – and Christian Vazquez is fine behind the plate. One hopes the defense will pick up, but if the bats keep working, it likely won’t matter that much.

Last modified on Wednesday, 05 May 2021 06:46

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