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Red Sox Report Card September 2016

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(Note: Boston's two October regular season games are also being included in this analysis.)

Quite a ride, wouldn't you say?

As we come to the end of the regular season, the Red Sox turned in a final winning month. Their September performance led to victory in the American League East. They held off a pair of quality teams teams that will face off in the AL Wild Card game, in fact - in the Blue Jays and Orioles.

Nineteen wins in any month is great; doing it in September is truly exceptional. And the Red Sox did it with contributions from every part of the roster. This Boston team is firing on all cylinders; while the offense might not be quite as potent as it was earlier in the season, the pitching staff as a whole hasn't looked better. Put those still-strong bats in support of lights-out pitching and the end result is a September to remember.

Whether they can keep it up deep into October is anyone's guess.

On to the Report Card.

Hitting A-

This is an ever-so-slight downgrade from last month. While the team scored almost precisely the same number of runs, they did so in spite of a small statistical dip. Really small this team was still in the top three in batting average, on-base percentage and OPS. David Ortiz closed out his historic final season in style, batting well over .300 while hitting seven homers and driving in 25. Hanley Ramirez might have been even hotter, with 10 homers and 26 RBI to go with his own north-of-.300 average. Dustin Pedroia and Mookie Betts also had greatly productive months at the plate. There were a few guys struggling offensively Jackie Bradley and Xander Bogaerts have been scuffling for a while now but this offense is filled with hitters who can put the team on their backs at any given time.

Starting Pitching A-

The rotation looked like a real weakness for this team earlier in this season, but the last couple of months have seen a significant turnaround. David Price was signed to be the ace of this team and he has been very good the past few weeks but the actual ace has been Rick Porcello, whose September work contributed four of his 22 wins. They aren't the only quality performers; Eduardo Rodriguez had a very strong September, though his last start wasn't sharp, and Clay Buchholz continued to baffle those of us who thought his days as a legitimate starter were behind him. The only starter who struggled and the reason this grade isn't an 'A' proper is Drew Pomeranz; batters hit him at a .309 clip and scored to the tune of a 6.61 ERA. Still, this group has shined.

Bullpen A-

And so has this one. It's night and day for the bullpen; they might have been terrible in August, but they were great in September. All told, four relievers Brad Ziegler, Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara and Robby Scott didn't give up an earned run all month. Three others sported ERAs under two. That's a borderline shocking level of performance from a group that was really bad just a month earlier. It's not all sunshine and roses, though closer Craig Kimbrel has struggled a little bit, albeit almost exclusively in non-save situations. Quality bullpen work is one of the most important parts of any postseason run; if the last month is any indication, this group is ready to do its part.

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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