Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
There’s been a lot of negativity around the Red Sox this year, some justified and some ridiculous. After a World Series win, expectations were higher than the 17-18 record we’ve seen so far. But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some positives. Here are five of the biggest positives from the first 35 games:
1) Jon Lester and John Lackey: Both pitchers have proven that they can win big games for the Sox. I made the argument that Lackey was the ace of the staff and Lester responded with a one hit, 15 K performance. I stand by my statement that I’d take Lackey in a must-win, but they’re both proving that they can dominate the top of the rotation.
2) Mike Napoli‘s all-around play: Does he strikeout a lot? Absolutely. But that comes with the territory when you’re a power hitter. And as long as the strikeouts don’t come with a .220 average, who cares? He leads the team in batting (.282), RBI (20), and OBP (.413) thanks to 24 walks, which is five higher than the next closest teammate. His defense has also been solid, only committing two errors in 31 games. And he passes the eye test, which measures defense better than any statistic IMO. Not bad for a catcher-converted-first baseman.
3) Jackie Bradley’s Defense: I don’t need to go too deep into this one, as it was already covered well by Rick Mcnair. But Bradley has passed all the defensive tests with flying colors. He’s a major league ready centerfielder defensively, maybe one of the best in the league. Do I want to see more from him offensively? No doubt. But we’ve learned already this year how frustrating a poor defense can be, and Bradley’s could end up winning the Sox some games.
4) The Development of Xander Bogaerts: He’s been shaky in the field. There’s no denying that. When a ball is hit to the third base hole, there’s definitely not the same level of confidence that there was when Stephen Drew was manning the position. But c’mon people. I’ve heard calls for him to be shipped to AAA and for the Sox to re-sign Drew. Bogaerts’ defense isn’t that bad. He’s learning. It’s a young season. And his offense had been excellent until a recent rough patch. It’s amazing how quickly people forget just how bad Stephen Drew was offensively in last year’s postseason. Bogaerts’ defense will come and the offense will always be the main attraction.
5) We’re not the Astros: Is there someone we can thank for that? Seriously, someone out there deserves a handshake and a big thank you for not making us Astros fans. We’re 17-18 and only three games out of first place. What’s with all the panic? A bit of a winning streak and we’re back in first place. Sometimes we forget how spoiled we are as Boston fans. Next time you feel frustrated after the Sox fail to get over .500 (again), just laugh and remind yourself, well at least we’re not those guys.
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