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Red Sox Report Card - July 2016

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And the rollercoaster ride continues.

The Red Sox have had an OK July in terms of their record; they remain solidly in the playoff hunt despite the unexpected competitiveness at the top of the AL East. They've won more than they've lost for the month, though they certainly missed opportunities to have a much better stretch.

Still, the improvement over the cratering that took place in June is undeniable. This is a team on the rebound particularly on the offensive side, where the team has again shown flashes of the world-beating dominance they put on display earlier in the season. The pitching has continued to lag behind, but we've seen the team make some efforts toward rectifying that situation.

Boston is in striking distance, and while there are definitely some questions particularly on the pitching staff the truth is that an offense like this one has the potential to make up for a lot of mound mistakes. If the bats stay hot, this team will almost assuredly be playing in October.

But there's still a long way to go.

On to the Report Card.

Hitting A

With few exceptions, the offense has gotten it done for Boston over the past month. With the best batting average and slugging percentage in the league and an on-base percentage that sits second this group has been extremely productive. They're first in homers and third in runs scored. Mookie Betts has led the way with a spectacular month of hitting, while stalwarts like Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts and the apparently ageless David Ortiz have all put up good numbers. Jackie Bradley and Hanley Ramirez have been strong as well. All told, July was a month in which there were very few easy outs in the Boston lineup. If they can keep it up, they might be able to continue overcoming the shortcomings on the pitching staff going forward.

Starting Rotation C

This bunch is difficult to figure out. They're near the bottom in terms of ERA, yet they've managed to win a fair number of games. Rick Porcello put forth an absolutely exceptional July, winning all five of his starts with an ERA of 2.57. Meanwhile, David Price somehow managed a 2.80 ERA in his five starts despite allowing opposing hitters to bat over .300 against him no wonder he won just once. Steven Wright's numbers are skewed by one terrible start, but he's continued to be a welcome addition to the rotation. Trade acquisition Drew Pomeranz hasn't lived up to the hype as of yet he was terrible in his three July starts. And the rest of the bunch has been generally meh. There's talent here to be sure, but the group simply failed to put it all together this past month.

Bullpen C+

I might be underselling the month this group had by just a bit, if I'm honest with myself. While closer Craig Kimbrel had some struggles before getting hurt, Koji Uehara stepped in and looked pretty good. Recent acquisition Brad Ziegler has been extremely effective in general, with a sub-2 ERA in eight July appearances. Joe Kelly has been surprisingly effective out of the bullpen, as has Matt Barnes. However, guys like Junichi Tazawa and eternal disappointment Clay Buchholz have failed to hold up their end. There's definitely talent here, and if Kimbrel, Uehara and Ziegler all get going at the same time, that's an excellent trio. That's an awfully big if, though. Also, three pitchers do not a bullpen make; other guys need to step up.

Defense B

Again, when it's all averaged out, the Red Sox are putting forth some solid, above-average defense. Outfield defenders like Betts and Bradley continue to perform well, while Dustin Pedroia continues to be his usual dirt-dog self at second. Bogaerts shows flashes of ability at short, though he still needs some consistency. The relative success of the Hanley Ramirez at first base experiment continues to surprise. All in all, this 2016 team is one of the better defensive groups of recent memory.

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