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Red Sox Report Card - July 2021

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Well … it was fun while it lasted.

I know, I know – it’s unfair to be defeatist, even after a month whose final day saw the Red Sox cede first place in the division to the Tampa Bay Rays. It’s not like July was outright terrible – Boston still managed to finish the month with a record above .500, albeit just barely (13-12).

Still, this isn’t the same team that looked so strong over the early part of the season. It’s a squad that has clearly come back down to Earth; whether they’ll be able to right the ship and regain their advantage in the A.L. East going forward remains to be seen. But there’s no denying that as a team, they simply haven’t performed up to the same level that we saw in the season’s first half.

All that being said, there’s a lot of season left. And July, while far from perfect, did have its bright spots to go with its downturns. Let’s break it down, shall we?

On to the Report Card.

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Batting – B

The Red Sox offense wasn’t nearly as effective in July as it had been earlier in the season, but the team still managed to perform reasonably well with the bats. They managed to land in the top third of the league in batting average, slugging and OPS, albeit lagging significantly behind the teams ahead of them on the list. There’s no denying who the Red Sox star of July was – Rafael Devers led the team in hits (27), homers (8), RBI (20), batting average (.310) and slugging percentage (.644) over the course of the month. Enrique Hernandez slashed .274/.381/.568 in his 25 July games, which is a nice line. Of course, J.D. Martinez was the only other qualified batter to manage an OPS of even .800 for the month. The cooling off of guys like Xander Bogaerts, Alex Verdugo and Hunter Renfroe didn’t help the overall offensive output, but when you take the league wide batting dip into account, you’re still left with a top-five attack. Not a great month, but solid.

Starting Pitching – D+

These guys have NOT been great this month. The rotation was never going to be a strength this season (at least, not until Chris Sale got back), but they had solid stretches. July was not one of them. The only regular starter to achieve even above-average performance was Nathan Eovaldi, with a 3.82 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP and 36 Ks in 30 innings over five starts. The rest of the regular starters ranged from mediocre-to-poor (Eduardo Rodriguez and Nick Pivetta) to pretty bad (Garrett Richards and Martin Perez). Perez in particular struggled – his 1.70 WHIP was terrible and opposing hitters batted .340(!) against him. It should be noted that Tanner Houck actually had a good month; in three games (two starts) he shone, with matching 0.77 ERA and WHIP, but that was over a total of just 12 innings. No one is expecting this group to blow the opposition away, but they need to perform better than this if the Red Sox are to have any chance to stay in contention for the division.

Bullpen – C

I honestly don’t know what the right grade is for these guys. There are a couple of pitchers who have been legitimately great in July. Closer Matt Barnes might be the best guy in the bullpen right now; his July saw him notch five saves, two wins, an ERA of 1.13 and a 0.75 WHIP over the course of eight games. If it isn’t Barnes, it’s Garrett Whitlock, whose ERA is lower and whose WHIP is the same, plus he’s averaging over a strikeout an inning. On the other end of the spectrum, Adam Ottavino and Brandon Workman have gotten lit up; the former’s ERA was an even 8.00, while the latter’s was just shy of that number. Workman even managed a WHIP over two. In the middle, there are guys like Yacksel Rios and Josh Taylor and Hirokazu Sawamura; they’ve been OK, but there’s nothing spectacular about their performance. Basically, the pen was better overall than the rotation in July, but that isn’t really saying much.

Defense – B

Look, I think we all expected there to be a major dropoff in the outfield defense when Boston said goodbye to guys like Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi last offseason. And yet … there wasn’t? Somehow, guys like Enrique Hernandez and Hunter Renfroe and Alex Verdugo have turned themselves into a legitimately strong defensive outfield. The infield isn’t as solid, with the left side – Bogaerts and Devers – a talented but inconsistent pairing, and the situations at first and second turning into revolving doors. The catching is just good enough to be boring, which is more than sufficient. Is it a great defensive team? No. But it’s better than we thought it would be, and it keeps on improving.

Last modified on Tuesday, 03 August 2021 07:33

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