Boston Red Sox: Why Ryan Kalish Could Be Their 2011 Unsung Hero
The Boston Red Sox were ravged with injuries in 2010 and struggled to keep pace in the competitive American League East.
Previously unknown players such as Ryan Kalish, Darnell McDonald and Daniel Nava became household names in Boston.
The Sox revamped their offense in the offseason in an effort to prevent this from happening again. In particular, they signed superstar Carl Crawford to bolster their outfield.
That being said, baseball is unpredictable and injuries can occur at any time. Last year, Ryan Kalish was able to showcase his skills on the big stage.
Red Sox fans hope their season does not fall on the shoulders of Kalish. However, here are some reasons why Ryan Kalish could play a major factor in the Sox success in the coming season.
Kalish has shown that he is a player that projects as an everyday outfielder in the MLB.
He hovered just below a .300 average during his days in the minor leagues. In 2010 he split time between AA Portland and AAA Pawtucket and posted a .293 average with 13 homers and 47 RBI.
According to SoxProspects.com Kalish is "an excellent athlete with a solid build, good bat speed, and lots of quickness."
He also has shown to have improved patience and is a gritty player who isnt afraid to get dirty.
That should fit in well with the other dirtdogs in the clubhouse such as Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia.
At just 22 years young Kalish proved that he can hold his own in the big leagues. He struggled upon his initial call up in July to the tune of a .213 average.
However from that point forward he improved significantly with a .273 clip for the remainder of the season. Most notably was a September that included 15 RBI over a full slate of at bats.
Kalish may have worked himself into the rotation with his play in 2010. At the very least he has proven he can fill in admirably for any player and produce.
Jacoby Ellsbury's Injury History
Last season was certainly one to forgot for Ellsbury. Before the season he was moved to left field to prevent wear and tear on his body, which shows the Red Sox had concerns.
Rib injuries limited him to just 18 games while recording only 78 at bats. Red Sox fans hope Ellsbury can avoid another three DL stints in 2010.
However, Ellsbury has prolific speed which puts him at further risk on the bases. Likely heading into the season as the leadoff hitter, Ellsbury will be called upon to steal bases and spark the offense.
He appears to be healthy heading into the 2011 season but, as history has shown us, there is no guarantee it stays that way. An Ellsbury injury could once again open the door for Kalish
J.D. Drew's Injury History
This is something that really needs little explanation. J.D. Drew is a player who can not avoid injuries and is not willing to play through them.
Drew has never surpassed the 150 game total in his career and at this point seems safer to pencil him in for 130-140.
Since coming to Boston in 2007 he has averaged just 441 at bats per season. When healthy, he can carry a team for several weeks but must be spelled for at least twenty games a season.
With 2011 beign a contract year for Drew it is possible his production increases. However, it is unlikely he pushes himself to any kind of physical limit and risks injury before signing a new deal.
It is almost a guarantee that Kalish will be used to fill in for an injured Drew in 2011. The only question that remains is how many games.
Mike Cameron's Injury History
Injuries have long been a concern for Mike Cameron and, at 37 years old, he could be nearing the end of the road.
Heading into last season the Sox had tabbed Cameron to play centerfield. However, after an injury-riddled season it is clear he can not be relied on as a regular in any lineup.
Cameron has not played more than 150 games since he was with the San Diego Padres in 2007. Last season he tallied just 162 at bats in 48 games.
An injury to Cameron could vault Kalish to the role of fourth outfielder. From there he would receive limited at bats until an injury to any other outfielder.
Ellsbury and Cameron Trade Rumors
It seems as though Ellsbury's name has been involved in trade rumors since he became part of the Red Sox organization.
The Sox have never viewed him as an elite leadoff man solely because his OBP for his career is just .344. They also do not see him as a Gold Glove-caliber fielder since they thought Cameron was better option in center last year, even at 36 years old.
On top of that, Ellsbury was at odds with the Sox medical staff after he re-injured his ribs last season. Trading Ellsbury may not be imminent but is definitely something to keep an eye on.
Cameron has stated that he is happy to fill the role of fourth outfielder for the Sox. However, if his attittude changes or he struggles in part time duty he too could become expendable.
Cameron is also in final year of his contract and Ellsbury may be seen as expendable so both could be attractive options for several teams in spring training or at the deadline.
If a deal were to go down Kalish might be the player to benefit the most.
Red Sox Aim to Get Younger
The Red Sox could look at Kalish as a young and inexpensive player that can be in their lineup for years to come.
Obviously the Sox payroll is through the roof with the mega-million dollar signings of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez.
With players such as J.D. Drew and Mike Cameron off the books after this season the Sox organization will likely not be active next offseason.
Instead they could turn to in house options such as Kalish. That could lead to him getting more at bats this year to give the team an idea of what they have moving forward.