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Red Sox Report Card August 2016

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Well, this probably shouldn't come as a surprise.

The Boston Red Sox are in the thick of things in the American League playoff race as of the end of August, they sat two games behind the Blue Jays for the division lead and two games ahead of the Orioles and Tigers for the first wild card spot. They are very much in contention.

Basically, the last month just ensured that the season is going to come right down to the wire. Sure, the Sox won 17 of their 30 games, but the Jays went 17-11. The Tigers won 15 games. Even the slumping Orioles didn't fall far.

The Boston bats lit up once again, while the starting pitching showed large, significant gains. The bullpen, on the other hand, appears to be in a bit of a tailspin; pulling out of that plunge is going to be where manager John Farrell earns his salary this season.

The Red Sox have a tough final month, but if they can keep hitting, they should assure themselves of at least one October game. Ultimately, a 9-7 win is still a win.

On to the Report Card.

Hitting A

Another big month for the Boston offense. They led the league in runs scored for the month with 150. The power was dampened somewhat they're middle of the pack in slugging percentage but their batting average and on-base percentage ranked second only to Cleveland's. Dustin Pedroia had a white-hot August he batted over .400 for the month as did MVP candidate Mookie Betts, to the tune of nine homers, 27 RBI and an OPS of 1.086. Hanley Ramirez and David Ortiz continued their renaissance and swan song respectively, each clubbing half a dozen homers with a .900-plus OPS. Sure, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and a couple of others scuffled a bit, but when you have that many hot bats, a few stragglers don't matter in the least.

Starting Rotation A-

I'm probably grading this group a bit more warily than they deserve, but the memory of early underperformance is still fresh. Still, the starting rotation has come up big this month. David Price has looked more ace-like, while Rick Porcello has continued performing well. Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodiguez have also been good. The only one of the four with an ERA over three for the month was Rodriguez and he was at 3.33. Even Clay Buchholz has looked solid in his recent starts. In fact, the lone struggler in August was perhaps the team's best pitcher up to that point. Steven Wright hasn't looked like an All-Star in his last few outings, but the knuckleball is notoriously mercurial. Assuming he gets it back and the rest of the bunch keep it up, this group might be peaking at the perfect time.

Bullpen D+

This one, on the other hand, might be a touch harsh at least according to the stats. However, a number of winnable August games were definitely coughed up by this bunch. So here we are. The middle innings are a morass of mediocrity Matt Barnes, Fernando Abad and Junichi Tazawa have been TERRIBLE. Their combined August was 30 innings pitched with an ERA in the neighborhood of 10. That more than counters the good (of which there was some); Craig Kimbrel was seven for seven in save chances with a sub-one ERA and almost two strikeouts per inning. Robbie Ross has also been strong. Brad Ziegler has superficially decent numbers, but he's been very hittable and blew three of four save chances. Kimbrel and Ross do not a bullpen make this group had a rough month.

Fielding B

Once more, solid defense. Betts and Bradley continue to flash the leather in the outfield, while Dustin Pedroia remains one of the better defenders at his position in the league. Hanley Ramirez continues to surprise with his glovework at first base. Xander Bogaerts remains a bit enigmatic on the defensive side, while third base has proven a bit of a struggle for anyone who has played there. Still, on the balance, a more than serviceable defensive squad.

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