2013 Boston Red Sox: 5 Current Players with the Most to Prove
Having suffered an historic collapse that knocked them out of the 2011 pennant race and gone through a miserable 2012 campaign, the Boston Red Sox have a lot to prove in 2013. Redemption is not only being sought by the team, but also by a number of players.
With a roster depleted by the major trade completed this past August, all hands on deck will be required to help the team with the rebuilding process. Helping those efforts will be players looking to bounce back from disappointing seasons or trying to establish or re-establish themselves as reliable players in Boston.
Click through to see the five Red Sox players with the most to prove in 2013.
Statistics via BaseballReference
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#5. Jose Iglesias—Shortstop
Having recently traded 2012 starting shortstop Mike Aviles, the Red Sox are in search of his replacement for 2013. Iglesias is widely regarded for his superior glove, but his ability to hit is another matter.
To say Iglesias can’t hit would be an understatement. He was 8-for-68 in Boston last season and has a listless .646 OPS during his minor league career. He was even lifted for a pinch-hitter when batting with a 2-2 count in a September game against the Blue Jays.
Iglesias can handle the starting shortstop position defensively, but he will need to prove he has made great strides with his hitting if he has any chance of sticking out of spring training.
#4. Andrew Bailey—Closer
Boston was atwitter when news broke that the Red Sox had acquired former Rookie of the Year and two-time All-Star Bailey from the Oakland A’s for Josh Reddick and prospects prior to the 2012 season. Reddick went on to hit 32 home runs and win a Gold Glove, while Bailey pitched a total of 15.1 innings and posted an atrocious 7.04 ERA.
NESN doesn't believe Bailey has lingering physical issues, so it will be incumbent on the closer to return to his successful ways and lock down the ninth inning for the Red Sox.
With the Red Sox already needing to fill a number of holes, it would be a relief to not have to worry about the back end of their bullpen.
#3. Ryan Lavarnway—Catcher
Lavarnway’s perceived lack of defense at catcher has held him back from more opportunity at the major league level. However, despite only throwing out 10 percent of stolen base attempts last season, the Boston Globe’s Alex Prewitt was impressed by the defensive strides made by Lavarnway. Surprisingly, Lavarnways’s biggest question mark entering 2013 is his once-potent bat.
In the lost 2012 season the Red Sox gave Lavarnway 153 at bats, but he hit a paltry .157 with just two home runs and 12 RBI. This came after hitting a combined .292 with 40 home runs over the previous two minor league seasons.
If Lavarnway is going to establish himself as a legitimate major league player, he must take a major step forward with his hitting and continue working on his defense.
#2. Ryan Kalish—Outfielder
Kalish has missed major chunks of the past two seasons because of injuries. When he did play in 2012 he was completely ineffective, batting a punchless .229 with five RBI in 36 games.
The Patriot Ledger’s Mike Fine sees the outfield as a major weak spot for the Red Sox in 2013. Depending on who the team brings in via trade or free agency, this coming season may be Kalish’s best and last chance with Boston.
When healthy Kalish is a potential 20/20 player who can play solid defense at either corner position. Such production would be a welcome sight in Fenway Park.
#1. Jon Lester—Starting Pitcher
Entering the 2012 season Lester had won 65 games with a combined 3.30 ERA over the previous four seasons and established himself as one of the best left-handed starters in baseball.
Unfortunately, everything fell apart for Lester last season, as he went just 9-14 with a 4.83 ERA, while allowing a career-high 25 home runs. Despite posting a 3.76 ERA over the final two months of the season, Sports Overdose cited his inability to finish off otherwise strong starts as a primary reason for his struggles.
Aces can be hard to come by, so if Lester can rejuvenate himself and return to prior form, he will have helped the Red Sox and their rebuilding efforts enormously.