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Red Sox Report Card May 2016

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You probably don't need me to tell you that May was a very good month for the Boston Red Sox.

The team has put up the best record in the American League for the month, along with some of the most impressive offensive numbers we've seen in quite some time. Apparently, April showers bring May power.

The Red Sox sit atop the American League East, though only by a bit even with their impressive start to the season, they are only just ahead of the surprising Baltimore Orioles.

The pitching staff has lagged behind the offense, but there's no shame in that this lineup has produced at a historic level over the past month. Besides, we're still at the point where a bad apple (*coughcoughBuchholzcough*) can spoil the bunch at least in terms of numbers. Still, the bats can't be expected to maintain such a high level of production.

However, this isn't about later. This is about now one of the best offensive stretches in recent Red Sox memory. And first place is first place.

On to the Report Card.

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Hitting A++

I debated the extra plus, but come on this is video game stuff here. The team slash line for May is something like .307/.373/.521; essentially, the entire team has hit like a down-ballot MVP candidate. They led the league in runs, outscoring the second-place team by nearly 40 runs. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts hit over .400 for the month and currently leads the league in hitting. Jackie Bradley Jr.'s hitting streak ended, but he still hit .381 with eight homers and 24 RBI. David Ortiz hit over .350 with nine home runs and nearly 30 RBI. Those three have had the largest impact, but they are hardly alone in making significant offensive contributions. Hanley Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts, Travis Shaw literally the entire lineup has hit like crazy all month.

Starting Pitching C+

The best part of this is that it doesn't even matter that the rotation has been just north of mediocre. Sure, their ERA has hovered in the upper 4 area for the month, but it hardly matters. They've won two-thirds of their starts as a unit. Yes, ostensible ace David Price has been inconsistent, but hey a 4-1 record makes a 4.62 ERA palatable; he has definitely pitched better than his numbers. And knuckleballer Steven Wright has continued his exceptional season through May, while Rick Porcello has been decent. Clay Buchholz spent the month continuing to be a dumpster fire, but his relegation to the bullpen has made him mop-up duty's problem. With the ascension of youngster Eduardo Rodriguez, this group looks poised to improve going forward.

Bullpen B

This group has pitched better than the rotation as a whole, though its performance has been buoyed by exceptional work from a couple of individuals. It starts with the closer Craig Kimbrel is averaging well over a strikeout an inning with a sub-1 WHIP, an ERA under two and five saves. Robbie Ross has had a strong May as well, giving up just a single run over the course of the month. Matt Barnes has also been great in his 11 appearances. Beyond that trio, Junichi Tazawa and Tommie Layne have been decent, while Koji Uehara has dropped off to an unfortunate degree. Still, this is a good group that put up a good month.

Defense B+

It's a bit weird to be this enthusiastic about the Red Sox on the defensive side. But there's no getting around the fact that this team has some great glovemen. Xander Bogaerts is continually getting better and Dustin Pedroia remains an elite defender. In terms of outfield defense, Jackie Bradley Jr. is a Gold Glove-caliber performer and Mookie Betts is just as strong. Throw in a surprisingly adept Hanley Ramirez at first base and some great work from Christian Vasquez and Ryan Hanigan behind the plate, and you've got one of the best defensive units we've seen in years.

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