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Red Sox Report Card August 2015

September 1, 2015
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Man these things are a lot more fun to write when the team isn't terrible.

We've all but closed the book on the 2015 Boston Red Sox (though it should be noted that technically they aren't eliminated from postseason contention, with the models giving them a 0.2% chance at making the playoffs). It hasn't been a great season thus far, with a summer full of disappointing performances.

However, the team definitely showed some signs of life in the month of August. Obviously, it was a case of too little too late the Yankees and Blue Jays are firmly ensconced atop the division and are battling it out for the American League East crown. Still, the Red Sox managed to out-win all but one (Toronto) of their division rivals for the month, riding a resurgent offense and one blazing-hot starting pitcher for a run of also-ran respectability.

It has been a major letdown of a season, but at the very least, months like this one offer us a glimpse at what might have been and of what might yet be in 2016 and beyond. Nevertheless, the 2015 Boston Red Sox are doing little more than playing out the string.

On to the Report Card.

Hitting A

What a pleasure it is to give that grade. The Red Sox have had one of the most potent offensive attacks in the league over the last month, leading the league in batting average and slugging percentage while sitting at second in runs scored. Eight players who played at least 17 games put up averages over .300, led by the suddenly-potent Jackie Bradley Jr. (slashing .354/.429/.734) and the surging David Ortiz (.352/.432/.736, with nine home runs). Blake Swihart batted .373 for the month and Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts each tore it up; Rusney Castillo and Travis Shaw also raked. In fact, pretty much everyone except high-priced additions Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval crushed the ball. With this surge powered largely by young players, there's reason to hope going forward.

Starting Pitching C

This grade, however, should probably be a little lower. It is buoyed solely by the outstanding August put forth by Joe Kelly, who was responsible for six of the team's 15 wins for the month, along with a 2.68 ERA. Everybody else was fairly mediocre Wade Miley (2-1; 4.31 ERA in six starts); Henry Owens (2-1; 4.03 ERA in five starts); and Eduardo Rodriguez (2-2; 4.06 ERA in five starts) with the exception of Matt Barnes, who basically crapped the bed in his two starts. Rick Porcello and Steven Wright were both decent in limited August work. Still, considering where this group had been over most of the season, mediocrity looks pretty good particularly with that offense behind it. Here's hoping that Kelly can keep it up and the rest can pick it up over the home stretch.

Bullpen D-

I couldn't bring myself to fail this group, no matter how much they deserve it. The injury to closer Koji Uehara was devastating to the bullpen; unfortunately, no one else was able to help turn things around this month. Mainstays like Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa have put up ERAs above eight in 18 appearances between them, while Tommy Payne wasn't much better with a 6.75. Uehara's erstwhile replacement Jean Machi struggled to a 5.68 ERA in 14 appearances, though he has gone four-for-four in save opportunities. Robbie Ross and Alexi Ogando have been okay. Here's the thing - when your best bullpen performer over the course of a month is Heath Hembree, you've got some real problems. This unit is a mess and frankly, we probably shouldn't expect it to get much better.

Fielding B+

This might seem high for a team that has Hanley Ramirez in the outfield, but his issues have given us a chance to preview what could potentially become one of the finest defensive outfields in the American League. When Jackie Bradley Jr., Rusney Castillo and Mookie Betts are out there, they are a force to be reckoned with Bradley in particular has the makings of a defensive star. Pablo Sandoval's work at third has been poor, but Xander Bogaerts plays a solid shortstop. The absence of Dustin Pedroia hurts the infield defense, but Brock Holt has filled in admirably. Plus, Blake Swihart has been very good behind the plate. There's some solid glovework in this group.

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