MLB Report Cards: Grading Each Red Sox Player Through the First 25 Games of 2011
The Boston Red Sox have gotten off to a slow start in 2011. After opening the season 0-6, they almost worked their record back to .500, at 10-11.
Three losses in their last four games have seen them slip back again and they now trail the AL East-leading New York Yankees by four games.
But why are they last in the division? To help answer the question, here is a breakdown of each player who has appeared for the Sox in 2011.
His two home runs in last night's game against the Seattle Mariners have boosted his stats somewhat but they are still not great.
He has only five hits for a .185 average and his two homers were his first for extra bases.
It is worse when you consider that he is, in effect, in a platoon in right field with J.D. Drew. Cameron has only made one start against a righty this year. Basically, when he plays, it is because the Red Sox do not think Drew can hit the lefthander on the mound.
When you are playing in one-third of your team's games, you need to perform better than Cameron has.
Wow. Just wow.
You always get the benefit of the doubt at the start of the season, especially when you join a new team, but the benefit is fast running out for Boston's new left fielder.
Crawford, who signed a huge seven-year deal after leaving Tampa Bay in the offseason, has been absolutely woeful at the plate.
He is batting just .160 with only five extra base hits (four doubles, one HR). His line is an apalling .160/.202/.234 in 23 games and he is on pace for just 24 stolen bases.
J.D. Drew was never worth $14 million and the front office will be glad to get that off the books at the end of the season.
He has not had a great start to the season but it has been exactly what you would expect from him, given his production in his time in Boston.
The exception to that is his home run total. He has gone yard just once on the young season. Compounding that is the fact he rarely plays against lefties.
What else do you want from Ellsbury?
He is second on the team in doubles (six) and home runs (four), third in RBI (14) and leads the Sox in stolen bases with six. His average is the only stat which is not great, but is still a respectable .264. He has also thrived since moving back to the leadoff spot in the last week.
What makes his early production more impressive is that he missed almost the entire 2010 season and does not seem to have missed a beat.
The most striking stat about Gonzalez career in Boston so far is his home runs, which everyone expected. But not because he is on pace for a monster year. Rather, he has hit just one round tripper in 102 AB in 2011.
In every other area though, he has been great. Strong defensively, his first stolen base in three years and the team lead in hits (32), doubles (10), triples (one), total bases (47) and RBI (15) are all wonderful signs for those who were doubtful about his new $154 million contract.
He has become a legend in Boston and on Twitter, he has won the starting shortstop job from Marco Scutaro, and he has finally started to realise the potential he showed on his journey up to the Majors a few years ago.
Admittedly, Lowrie has cooled off considerably recently, and his batting average is now a paltry .375. His slugging percentage too, might still be the best on the Red Sox but is now just .578.
It is unlikely he will continue this form throughout the entire season but, for the moment, he might be the best hitter on the team.
McDonald was one of the key players in keeping the Red Sox in the playoff hunt until the last week of 2010. This season has not been so kind.
He has put together a .118/.211/.294 line with just two hits, one of which accounted for his sole home run and RBI.
Ortiz has been good. Now bear in mind that it is April. In the last two seasons, Big Papi has struggled immensely in the first month of the season.
In 2010, he did not hit his second home run until mid-May. In 2009, he did not get his second until the beginning of June. It took him just two games to hit two homers this season. Unfortunately, he has gone homerless in the 22 games since.
There is a good sign there, though. He has played 24 of the team's first 25 games. There were concerns before the season about his ability to hit lefties, and expectations he would sit in those games. However, he is smoking LHP, hitting at a .379 clip with a 1.017 OPS.
Dustin Pedroia was one of the biggest losses to the Red Sox in the injury-plagued 2010 season. He has come back with a bang and you would never know he was playing with a metal screw in his foot.
His offensive stats are not exemplary, but they are all above the league average for a second baseman. Where he has really shined is in the field.
Pedroia is a Gold Glove winner at second base but somehow, he has been better this season. His 13.5 UZR/150 is fourth-best in the Majors and second in the American League only to the Angels' Howie Kendrick. Part of the reason might be the addition of Adrian Gonzalez at first base, whose great range allows him to shade more to his right.
Saltalamacchia was brought in by the Sox last season and, somewhat controversially, named the starting catcher in the offseason after Victor Martinez left for Detroit. GM Theo Epstein thought his offense would develop somewhat and that he would be solid behind the plate.
Neither has happened. If you need proof that his 2011 campaign has been an unmitigated disaster, look no further than games played. Salty has appeared in 15 games, with the 39-year-old backup Jason Varitek in 13.
The pitchers have been better with Tek behind the plate and, since they have both been awful with the bat (.191 for Salty; .111 for Tek), there is nothing to be gained by having Saltalamacchia catch. It is the biggest question mark for the Sox through 25 games.
Nothing has been impressive about Scutaro's 2011 season.
He has drawn seven walks, which is good, but it has led to his OBP being higher than his slugging percentage (.283 to .226). That would be quite worrying if they weren't both absolutely awful.
He has pretty much lost his starting role to Jed Lowrie and, based on his numbers, quite rightly so.
It is hard to give the captain anything other than an F, given his woeful offensive stats (.111 BA, one XBH, one RBI) and uncharacteristically shaky defense (see: the Cleveland play).
However, for whatever reason, the starting rotation is more confident with him behind the dish. Josh Beckett has shown glimpses of his past self and Daisuke Matsuzaka has allowed just five hits in his last 19 innings pitched.
It is hard to know how to grade Youk. The fact he has the tenth-highest isolated power in the AL (.267) shows you how important the home run has been to him this year.
He has the most home runs on the Red Sox with five, and is tied for the team lead with 15 RBI. However, his batting average is a terrible .213 and he has been shaky in his new home at third base.
Aceves has the third-lowest ERA amongst Red Sox relievers, allowing just two runs (on two solo shots) in his eight innings pitched.
In a bullpen that has been poor at best, he has been good.
Aside from Jonathan Papelbon, one could make the case that Albers has been the best member of the relief corps. He has pitched six innings and allowed just one run on three hits. The walks are a bit high, with four, but otherwise, Albers has been solid.
Everyone expects a lot from Daniel Bard. There were conversations in the offseason about his taking over the closer role if Papelbon falters and it is a widely-held belief that he will be the closer to start the 2012 season.
The problem is, when people expect a lot, it is all the more obvious when you fail. He failed on Opening Day, with the worst performance of his career. Since then, he has been trying to get his ERA down but it is still at 3.65 and he has taken three losses.
Take out his April 1 appearance and his stats look a lot better but he yet to find last year's form.
It may be premature but it will feel so good for Boston fans to be able to say this: Josh Beckett is back.
His last start, against Baltimore, was not good—allowing four runs in six innings. In his three starts before that however, he was as good as we have seen him in a Boston uniform.
Maybe he will not be the 2007 Beckett again, but he is definitely a long way from his 2010 incarnation.
Few expected Buchholz to repeat his stellar 2010 season but few could have predicted he would start 2011 this poorly.
In his five starts, he has gone six innings just twice, allowed fewer than three runs only once and his last start was the first time he struck out more than three batters.
A 1-3 record with a 5.33 ERA is not what was expected of Buch' this season.
Not much to say, really. A WHIP over two, an ERA touching seven and only one strikeout. Poor.
Jenks blew last night's game against Seattle, giving up two runs on three hits and a walk. The unfortunate thing for Boston is that has become the norm, rather than an aberration.
He has been scored on in four of his last six outings. Considering that his first four appearances were scoreless, his ERA has exploded from 0.00 to 8.64 in a fortnight.
The fact he started the season so well is the only thing keeping him from receiving an F.
After two pathetic outings to open the season, which saw him pitch to a 15.58 ERA, manager Terry Francona skipped the $18 million-man in the rotation. It worked.
In his two starts since, Lackey has gone six and eight innings allowing one and no runs, respectively.
His earned run average is still over six but he is getting better.
Jon Lester, like David Ortiz, has traditionally gotten off to slow starts. After getting smoked on Opening Day, it appeared this would be the case yet again. Not so.
In his five starts since the season opener in Texas, Lester has gone 3-1 with a 1.59 ERA, striking out 35 in 34 innings.
First two starts: 0-2, 12.86 ERA, 14 H, 4K.
Last three starts: 2-0, 0.47 ERA, 5 H, 16 K.
Perhaps it is having Varitek catch him, perhaps it is a fluke, perhaps it is because Hideki Okajima is back. Whatever the reason, Daisuke has been masterful in his last three outings, and as good as he was in his 18-win 2008 season.
He has pitched only two innings, so there is not much to say.
Simply put, he has been terrible with a 3.00 WHIP and 13.50 ERA.
Still, it is early days.
We said at the start of the season that if the Red Sox were to make a run at the AL pennant this season, Papelbon needed to be good. He has not been good, he has been great.
Five-for-five in save opportunities, a sub-2 ERA, 12 strikeouts in 9.1 IP and just two walks. Pap looks like a completely different pitcher to the one who blew eight saves last season. And that is just what the Red Sox need, especially with so many in the bullpen struggling for form.
Reyes has already been released by the Sox. That should tell you everything you need to know about how bad he was.
How does one grade a pitcher whose main role on the team is to be the disaster guy, brought in to eat up innings when the game is already out of reach?
He has not been that good but, when you are already seven runs behind, it does not matter if Wake gives up a long ball. Incidentally, he has given up three—most on the team amongst relievers.
It is quite disappointing how many relievers have been awful this season. Yes, building a bullpen is a crapshoot, but Theo must be really annoyed at the guys he signed this winter.
One of them is Dan Wheeler, who has surrendered eight runs in seven and one-third innings.
However, he has not walked anybody, so every cloud and all that. Right, Theo?