Boston Red Sox Top Early-Season Performers
The Red Sox played with heavy hearts on Tuesday night after the tragedy of the Boston Marathon bombings on Monday.
They took the first of a three-game set at Cleveland, winning 7-2 just a day after their dramatic walk-off victory at home prior to the bombings of Patriots Day.
Although it is still very early in the season, obscenely high numbers are starting to normalize and a handful of Red Sox players are starting to stand out.
Let’s review the top five Red Sox performers so far this season .
5. Andrew Bailey
Andrew Bailey was a wild card entering 2013. After suffering an injury during spring training 2012, he missed the majority of last season, appearing in just 19 games while racking up six saves in nine opportunities.
When the Red Sox acquired closer Joel Hanrahan from the Pittsburgh Pirates this offseason it seemed like just a matter of time before Bailey was dealt to another team.
But Bailey has been fantastic early in 2013.
Although he blew a save in his most recent appearance, Bailey has gotten off to a solid start, pitching 5.1 innings with a 1.69 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. He leads Red Sox relievers with four holds as well as nine strikeouts.
With Hanrahan currently on the DL, Bailey will be expected to fill the role. Hanrahan’s struggles out of the gate, coupled with Bailey’s early success, could lead to Bailey completely seizing the job as the team’s closer.
4. Koji Uehara
Of the new Red Sox acquisitions, few expected Koji Uehara to make to make the most significant impact. While he has only appeared in six games in 2013, the reliever has already won over the Boston fan base.
Of the 16 hitters Uehara has faced, two have reached base via a hit and a walk. He has struck out five of the 14 others he retired and has yet to allow an earned run. He also owns a 0.38 WHIP and three holds.
In addition to Uehara's dominant relief showing, Red Sox fans are loving the energy he brings—with several emphatic high-fives—after his successful outings.
3. Dustin Pedroia
This list would seem incomplete without Dustin Pedroia.
The scrappy second baseman has reached base safely in all 13 games this season with a ridiculous .414 OBP.
He has quietly led the Red Sox offense with five multi-hit games for a .306 average and has five RBI.
Still, Pedroia's power numbers seems to be down.
He has just two extra-base hits—a pair of doubles—as well as a .347 slugging percentage although it is still too early to express concern over Pedroia's apparent lack of power.
After all, Pedroia tends to hit home runs in bunches. He hit six home runs in a span of eight games from July 5 to July 16, 2011 and who could forget his epic three-home run performance on June 24, 2010 at Coors Field in Colorado?
As they always say, as the weather warms up, so will the bats, and that couldn't be any more true regarding Pedroia.
2. Jon Lester
One of the main concerns heading into this season was starting pitching, namely, how would this rotation perform after last year’s deplorable showing.
Jon Lester, who had a fantastic spring, continued to stifle opposing hitters in the regular season. After taking down the New York Yankees on Opening Day (5 IP, 2 ER, 2 BB and 7 Ks), he followed that with back-to-back seven-inning gems against the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays.
Through three starts, Lester is 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA, a 0.95 WHIP and 18 strikeouts as opponents are hitting just .208 off him.
1. Clay Buchholz
Clay Buchholz has been nothing short of brilliant so far in 2013.
Through three starts, the hard-throwing righty is 3-0 with a 0.41 ERA and 23 strikeouts. He has yet to pitch fewer than seven innings in a start.
In his most recent start on April 14, Buchholz flirted with history, taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning of a game at Fenway Park. He had all his pitches working, from his four-seam fastball to his nasty changeup.
Buchholz's primary concern over the past few years has been health. If he can avoid a stint on the DL in 2013, don't be surprised to hear his name in early speculation about this season's AL Cy Young Award candidates.