Josh Reddick Maturing Before Our Eyes
When Carl Crawford went on the DL with a hamstring issue last week, the Red Sox had a decision to make about their outfield replacement. Mike Cameron was on the bench playing right field against lefties with J.D. Drew’s struggles this season, but he was the first and most obvious option. Unfortunately, his numbers this year have also been poor and we all know the Red Sox need a back-up for the oft-injured Drew, so he was crossed off the list. The Red Sox had a few other options in Darnell McDonald and Josh Reddick, using them as a platoon depending on the opponent’s starting pitcher. The platoon has worked out well, but in his 2nd stint with the Red Sox this season, Reddick has risen to the top. He has shown a level of maturity and patience that was missing from his game in the past. He has been an impressive all-around player for the Red Sox this season in limited opportunities and is turning into an emerging star.
In 8 games this season, Reddick has hit .429 with 9 hits and 7 runs in 25 plate appearances. The biggest difference in his game has been his increased patience at the plate. He has collected 3 BB and struck out 4 times, which for Reddick is a fantastic ratio. The main negative in Reddick’s game has always been his inability to take pitches at the plate, so his increased patience has resulted in better pitches to hit, which has resulted in solid contact and 4 extra base hits (2 doubles and a triple), 3 in the last 2 starts. The Red Sox team philosophy is to wear down opposing pitchers by taking many pitches and being selective, so Reddick’s free-swinging style has always seemed to be misaligned with the team strategy. This year has been different and his new found patience, combined with an enormous .480 on-base percentage has been raising a lot of eyebrows and making many fans ask why Reddick is not the everyday right fielder instead of J.D. Drew, even when Crawford returns to the lineup.
On top of his ability to hit, Reddick is an excellent outfielder defensively. He made a spectacular diving catch yesterday and has above-average speed to close on ball quickly. With Crawford in left (when healthy) and Ellsbury in right, Reddick could be that 3rd piece to the puzzle in right field, creating one of the best, if not the best, defensive outfields in baseball. He has the ability to make the standard plays most outfielders should make, but can take is game to another level and make plays that we have only see Jacoby Ellsbury make in Boston in recent years. He is fearless defensively and lays his body on the line each and every play, the kind of player Boston fans jump behind and support.
It appears the Tito will leave McDonald and Reddick as a platoon in left field for now, but with Drew’s frequent injuries and pathetic offensive stats this year, Reddick will certainly have some opportunities in right and the other two outfield positions, whether late in games or as the starter. Thus far, he has been extremely impressive and has earned the opportunity to play on a more regular basis going forward, whether it is just a hot streak, or a sign of added maturity and promising things to come. He has a much higher upside than Drew, Cameron, or McDonald and has shown stretches of both offensive and defensive brilliance, so why not give him a chance to succeed? Now is his chance to separate himself as the next great Red Sox outfielder.
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