Boston Red Sox: Power Ranking the Team's Top 10 Players
It's been an up-and-down season for the Red Sox, but after a disastrous start this group of 25 has emerged to be just as good as everyone thought they would be.
Let's take a look at which 10 Boston players are most responsible for carrying the team the team through the first 81 games.
10. Matt Albers, RP
The Red Sox made several high-profile moves to retool their bullpen last offseason, signing Dan Wheeler and Bobby Jenks to lucrative deals. But the best move GM Theo Epstein made all winter was the one-year, $875,000 deal he gave to Matt Albers.
The 28-year-old right-hander has rewarded Epstein and the Red Sox with a 2.97 ERA in 26 games and 30.1 innings. Albers has lowered his walk totals and increased his strikeouts in becoming a reliable middle relief option for manager Terry Francona, especially with injuries to the aforementioned Wheeler and Jenks.
9. Carl Crawford, OF
Crawford could not have gotten of to a worst start this season. He didn’t cross the Mendoza line until the 32nd game and he didn’t get his OPS above .600 until his 50th game. However, he’s begun to come around and is showing Red Sox fans why Epstein thought he was worth $142 million.
His cumulative numbers (.243/.275/.384) are still ugly and it’s hard to believe he only has eight steals, but Crawford was on fire in the month of June before landing on the DL with a strained left hamstring. He hit .278 in 14 games and even chipped in with a couple of game-winning hits. Odds are his stats will only go up when he returns to the team.
8. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Like Crawford, Pedroia struggled for a good chunk of the season. After an unbelievable start, including three consecutive three-hit games in April, Pedroia fell off a cliff. He had a horrendous May and there were some questions about his health.
Those struggles are now a thing of the past as the Laser Show has gone on a tear in the last two weeks and has his line up to .272/.388/.400. He’s also showcased an impressive amount of speed with 15 steals to go on top of the standard Pedroia energy and leadership.
7. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
Youkilis was a popular MVP pick early in the season, if only because he was going to get to hit behind the ultra-talented Adrian Gonzalez. He’s reaped the rewards of hitting clean-up for the best offense in baseball with 55 RBI, but the power numbers are still lacking.
At .265/.389/.477 Youkilis is well behind his career average of .292/.393/.396. He’s still a terrific offensive player, but the Red Sox probably expected a little more out of their third baseman.
6. Daniel Bard, RP
Bard may not technically be the Red Sox closer, but there’s no doubting that he’s the best reliever that Francona has. In 37 games and 39.2 innings the flame-throwing righty has a 2.27 ERA and 39 strikeouts.
With Papelbon struggling once again and Jenks next to useless, it may only be a matter of time before Bard becomes the full-time closer. He’s the best reliever the Red Sox have.
5. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF
Ellsbury took a lot of heat last year for missing most of the season with an injury, leading to some of his teammates calling him soft and not a team player. Well, those teammates should swallow their words because Ellsbury has emerged as one of the best all-around talents in baseball.
The 27-year-old outfielder is having a career year with a .300/.361/.452 line and he leads the league in steals with 25. Ellsbury has also already tied his career-high in home runs with nine and is close to setting a new career mark in doubles too. Let’s see if the fans reward him with a starting spot in the All-Star game.
4. Jon Lester, SP
Lester has a bit of a reputation as a slow starter, but the lefty is back in Cy Young form by now. He leads the team in wins with 10 and is second in ERA at 3.43. He’s also easily the leader in innings (110.1) and strikeouts (105).
Lester may not be the best pitcher on the staff (I think the next guy on this list is), but his value can’t be underestimated. If all goes according to plan he’ll be starting Game 1 in the playoffs.
3. Josh Beckett, SP
Beckett had a rather forgettable 2010 campaign when injuries limited him to just 21 starts, but in 15 starts this season he’s already accomplished more than he did all of last year.
Beckett is third in baseball with a 2.20 ERA and second with a 0.93 WHIP. He also owns Boston’s only complete game of the season, a one-hit shutout against the rival Rays. He’d be the favorite to win the AL Cy Young if it wasn’t for Jered Weaver and Justin Verlander.
2. David Ortiz, DH
Anybody who thought that the 35-year-old Ortiz was over the hill must be shocked by what he’s doing this season. He’s 10th in the league in hitting (.304), ninth in on-base percentage (.383), sixth in slugging percentage (.569), sixth in home runs (17) and fifth in OPS (.952). He even has a steal!
It’s unfortunate that he doesn’t get to play much in interleague play because this guy is still one of the best hitters in baseball.
1. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Could it be anyone else? Gonzalez has been as good as advertised in his first season for the Red Sox, and perhaps even a little bit better.
The slugger leads the Red Sox in every offensive category and his name is peppered all over the MLB leaderboards. He’s first in RBI (73), second in hits (116), second in doubles (26), and second in batting average (.349) in Major League Baseball. He’s even managed to throw in three triples and a steal in his spare time.
Gonzalez is a run-away lock for Red Sox MVP, and even then, he is an early favorite for the AL MVP award as well.