With last night’s comeback win over the Miami Marlins, the Boston Red Sox have climbed three games over .500 and are, miraculously, just 5.5 games out of first place in the AL East. A piece of the credit must go to manager Bobby Valentine, who has kept this team competitive despite the roster being decimated by injuries.
Any debut season can be tough, but in the competitive cauldron that is Boston, the intensity can break even the most experienced manager.
Thus far, Valentine has handled the pressures of being Red Sox manager pretty well. He has overseen the reclamation of the bullpen—which went from MLB’s worst to one of its best in a span of two months—as well as the strong production of the league’s second-best offense.
Statistically speaking, the Sox should have a better record than they do; their Pythagorean won-lost record (developed by Bill James, it’s an estimate of a team’s winning percentage based on their runs scored and runs allowed) suggests that they should be 38-31 rather than 36-33.
Valentine obviously is not the one pitching and hitting, so when evaluating the team’s play it would be unfair to judge his performance on the same level as the players’. Because Valentine’s role is to put the players in positions to succeed, though, his decisions must be scrutinized in order to ensure that the Sox are getting everything they can out of their roster.
For the most part, Valentine’s decision-making has been strong. However, there have been moments this year where he has made some questionable choices that have cost the team.
While the good moments certainly outweigh the bad, let’s take a look at some of Valentine’s most puzzling decisions this season: