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Red Sox Report Card - 2015 Postmortem

October 13, 2015
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With the regular season over for more than a week and the playoffs in full swing, we have achieved a little distance from the disappointing 2015 Boston Red Sox.

While this team closed out with a surprisingly strong September, they still failed to finish the season above .500 thanks to losing all four games in October. And a strong finish did little to erase the team's fairly awful performance for the lion's share of the season.

This postmortem is intended to look back on the season as a whole, with some emphasis placed on Boston's more recent performance. It seems that this is a team on the upswing, but considering the execrable play of June and July, it would pretty much have to be.

On to the final Report Card of the 2015 season.

Hitting B

For the season, the Red Sox managed to stick more or less to the top third of the league in the major rate stats a .265 batting average (fourth), a .325 on-base percentage (third) and a .415 slugging percentage (sixth). This despite six weeks when their struggles to produce offense bordered on the historic. The offensive stars were clearly Xander Bogaerts (.320 average; nearly 200 hits) and Mookie Betts (.291 with 18 homers and 21 steals), while the ageless David Ortiz simply did his usual (.273/.360/.553 with 37 homers and 108 RBI). Of course, this grade is weighed down significantly by the poor performances of high-end free agent signings Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, the latter of whom is considered the worst hitter among everyday players by some measures. Still, the offense put up solid numbers overall.

Starting Rotation D

Plenty of people (myself included) talked themselves into believing that the Red Sox rotation would be fine despite lacking anything resembling a true ace. It didn't take long for us to realize our mistake. The best approximation of a topline starter was Clay Buchholz, who managed a 7-7 record and a 3.36 ERA over 18 starts before succumbing to his annual injury woes. The rest of the rotation was mediocre at best (Wade Miley) and awful at worst (Rick Porcello), with Joe Kelly needing an epic run in August to avoid sinking below even Porcello's incredibly low bar. Young Eduardo Rodriguez offered an occasional glimmer of hope in his 21 starts, but that was more than countered by the mediocre-to-terrible efforts from the handful of other pitchers who started more than a couple of games.

Bullpen D

This group is saved only by a reasonably good (albeit injury-truncated) season from closer Koji Uehara, whose 2.23 ERA was easily the best of the bunch. And aside from passable efforts from Robbie Ross and Heath Hembree, the bullpen was collectively pretty bad. A couple of them managed to nudge their ERAs under four, but for the most part, the bullpen put up a collective stinker. They partially escaped notice due to the equally bad and far more prominent starting rotation, but there's no getting away from the fact that guys like Junichi Tazawa and Craig Breslow and Alexi Ogando guys who were intended to be vital cogs in this bullpen all managed to underperform to a significant degree.

Fielding C

This team's fielding as a whole has been sub-mediocre over the course of the season. They rank near the bottom of the league in fielding percentage, while only three AL teams committed more errors. However, their grade is elevated somewhat by the fact that much of that damage was done early in the season as the Red Sox sorted through their defensive alignments, they soon found one that worked; the outfield mix of Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley Jr. could be one of the best defensive groups in the league going forward. Bogaerts committed 11 errors, but is still growing as a shortstop. Holt battled most positions to a standstill. However, the aforementioned overpriced acquisitions Ramirez and Sandoval both proved to be particularly bad with the glove.

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