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Red Sox Report Card - May 2021

June 1, 2021
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Well … we all knew that this was probably coming.

While it was a pretty big surprise to have the Red Sox come out of the gate as the leaders in the A.L. West in the month of April, it’s less of a surprise to see that lead disappear in May. That’s not to say that Boston was bad in May – 15-12 is far from terrible – but it definitely opened the door for teams like Tampa (the current division leader) to make up that early deficit.

Still, being 10 games over .500 two months into the season is better than all but the most optimistic among us expected. And there’s still a lot to like about this team, with an offense that has largely maintained its early production pace. The pitching? Well, that’s another story.

So yes, the season’s second month didn’t live up to its first, at least as far as the Red Sox are concerned. And we’ve seen some unfortunate slumps to go with strong performances. But as always, there’s more to come – two months down, four to go.

On to the Report Card.

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Hitting – A-

While the Red Sox sit in the upper third of most offensive categories for the month, they’ve been downgraded slightly grade-wise. It’s not so much because their numbers as a team are down – they’re actually markedly similar to what we saw in April – so much as that a couple of other teams have surged ahead of them. The team saw a handful of exceptional performances over the course of the month, led by third baseman Rafael Devers, who slugged seven homers and 11 doubles among his 25 hits. He drove in 22 runs and scored 19 – elite production all around. Hunter Renfroe got it going, batting well over .300 and slugging just over .600 as he knocked half-a-dozen homers. Xander Bogaerts continues to shine – he batted over .300 and just missed the .400 threshold for OBP, hitting six homers, driving in 18 and scoring 19. On the other end, Bobby Dalbec is floundering, hitting under .200 for the month while striking out 29 times. A good month overall, but not quite great.

Starting Pitching – C-

This is an interesting group to figure out in terms of grading. On the one hand, there are a couple of guys who had pretty good Mays here – Garrett Richards bounced back from a rough start to the season with a 3-1 record and a sub-three ERA in his five May starts, while Martin Perez might have been the team’s best starter for the month, going 3-0 with a 2.60 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP (both best among starters) while striking out just shy of a batter an inning. Then it gets a bit dicier, with Nick Pivetta (4.82 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 34 Ks) and Nathan Eovaldi (4.50 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 26 Ks) having iffy peripherals, but going a combined 5-0 in their 10 starts. And then, there’s the utter implosion of Eduardo Rodriguez, who hadn’t lost a game coming into the month. He’s gotten hammered, with 1-4 record in his six starts to go with a 7.28 ERA and 1.89 WHIP; opponents batted .360 against him. That performance alone is enough to drag down the group.

Bullpen – B

This grade might be a touch high, but I’m granting a little more weight to the top-end performers as far as the bullpen is concerned. Matt Barnes has settled in nicely as the closer, putting up a 2.70 ERA and 0.80 WHIP in his 10 appearances, going six for seven in save chances. He also struck out 16 in 10 innings. Adam Ottavino has also been solid, with a 2.25 ERA and 15 Ks in 12 innings across 13 appearances. And Josh Taylor simply didn’t give up a run in May, pitching eight scoreless innings; batters hit just .148 against him. Hirokazu Sawamura and Darwinzon Hernandez also performed well (though Hernandez continues to have control issues). But on the flip side, guys like Phillips Valdez, Austin Brice and especially Matt Andriese – he of the 9.00 ERA and frankly remarkable 2.42 WHIP – have been bad. Seriously, batters are hitting .407 against Andriese this month – he’s basically turning the entire American League into vintage Ted Williams. Still, there’s more good than bad here.

Defense – C-

This Red Sox team continues to be relatively unimpressive when it comes to their flashing of the leather. They’re definitely in the bottom third of the league for the month with regard to their work with the glove, much like we saw from them in April. 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. Every so often, a ball will just get away from one of them. Across the diamond, young Bobby Dalbec is still getting the feel for playing first at this level, though we have to hope things will begin to click a little better soon. The outfield defense is meh – serviceable, but unimpressive; a far cry from the recent-yet-distant glory days of Betts, Bradley and Benintendi – and Christian Vazquez is fine behind the plate. The defense is going to need to step up its collective game; if the bats and arms continue on their current trajectories, they won’t be nearly as capable of bailing the team out after a defensive miscue.

Last modified on Tuesday, 01 June 2021 06:08

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