Youkilis, Drew, Crisp and Pedroia Help Red Sox Carry the Load

Joel MaliskasCorrespondent IApril 18, 2008

The Boston Red Sox are playing fairly well, but their nine and seven record does not do them justice to four players that have become new creatures in the 2008 season. The surprising performances of four typically supporting cast players have been playing extremely well in this first month of baseball. 

23 RBIs out of the Red Sox total 79 RBIs have been produced by Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew. That's 30%. Not bad for two players that haven't had much expected of them.

Kevin Youkilis, 29, has been a great surprise so far this season, batting .371. Youkilis' career average is .284. I had faith enough in him to draft him as my first baseman this year, but I have to believe he's playing quite a bit over his head.

Now, for J.D. Drew, I know I sometimes think he is older than he really is; the guy is only 32 years young. If he can stay healthy, I think that we can expect him to keep playing somewhere close to this well all season.

As for Pedroia and Crisp, these younger players on the team seem to be settling in. Pedroia, 24, is batting .329 and is being more aggressive on the bases, taking two bags already this season. Coco Crisp, 28,  is hitting .325, that's 40 points over his career average.

Manny Ramirez is having an amazing April and his performance cannot be ignored. Batting .343 and leading the team in almost all beneficial categories, the future hall-of-famer is taking things to a new level this season.

If other historically big producers like Josh Beckett can stay healthy this season, this should be an explosive season for the Red Sox. One big disappointment so far this season is Big Papi, David Ortiz, who is really struggling right now, batting .111, well below the Mendoza Line. With a player of Ortiz's caliber, a slump like this can only last for so long.

Mike Lowell's return can only strengthen the team. Boston's starting pitchers have been anything but disappointing, fulfilling their roles to a "T". The bullpen also seems to be in great shape, led by Jonathan Papelbon, who already has five saves.

With several regulars performing perhaps slightly below what was hoped, the great performances by Youkilis, Pedroia, Drew, and Crisp have given this team a much wider base of production. The four batters are all hitting well above .300. What goes up, must come down, but they can hardly be considered a supporting cast any longer. Things will even out, but either way, watch out for the Boston Red Sox, they are prepared to defend their title.