2014 Boston Red Sox: Players who exceeded/failed to meet expectations
Jun 7, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (25) at bat against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
It has been well chronicled across media outlets just how disappointing and surprising the 2014 Boston Red Sox season has been. Instead of spending September clinching a postseason berth, a division crown, or at least fighting for a playoff spot, the team is primarily surveying their options for 2015 and trying to get over the 69 win hump they “earned” during the ominous 2012 campaign.
A last place American League East finish is arguably as shocking as the World Series championship in 2013. Then again, the last three seasons and one month (September 2011), have consisted of a stunning roller coaster ride of euphoric ups and depressing downs.
While this season’s team has almost exclusively turned out lost seasons for players, there were a couple of bright spots. These players were the main reasons why the Sox are at least not battling the likes of the Texas Rangers, Colorado Rockies, and Arizona Diamondbacks for the worst record in baseball.
You always start with the bad news first, so let’s take a look this year’s players who failed to meet expectations, before analyzing some who went above and (sort of) beyond.
WE ARE VERY DISAPPOINTED IN YOU
1. Jackie Bradley Jr. (376 AB, 45 R, 76 H, 1 HR, 30 RBI, 31 BB, 118 SO, .202 BA/.271 OBP/.271 SLG/.542 OPS)
Despite a tremendously impressive defensive rookie season, the offensive numbers JBJ put up this year were ghastly. Bradley Jr. could very well make his way onto more SportsCenter Top 10 countdowns in the future with highlight real catches and throws, but he has also put himself into a real battle for the center field starting job in Boston. It’ll be fascinating to see how the influx of young and intriguing outfielders in the Red Sox system plays out in the offseason and beyond.
Jun 30, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox pinch hitter A.J. Pierzynski (40) loses his bat during the ninth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
2. *A.J. Pierzynski (256 AB, 19 R, 65 H, 4 HR, 31 RBI, 9 BB, 40 SO, .254/.286/.348/.633)
You can chalk this one up as a mistake for Ben Cherington and company. With the offseason departure of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and David Ross being more of a backup catcher, Red Sox management signed Pierzynski to a one-year, $8.25 million deal in December 2013. The move did not pay off as he struggled from the start and was released by Boston in July and subsequently signed by the Cardinals. It was a low-risk, short-term move, but didn’t we expect a little more out of the 37-year-old veteran?
3. Shane Victorino (123 AB, 14 R, 33 H, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 6 BB, 21 SO, .268/.303/.382/.685)
“Every little thing” was unfortunately not all right with the “Flyin’ Hawaiian” this season, as injuries plagued the switch-hitter for the majority of the year. Victorino’s contract with the Sox doesn’t end until after next season, but it’s hard to see where he fits in with the overflowing outfield. Who knows – maybe the team will bounce back, make the playoffs with Victorino on the roster, and he can come up with a few clutch, pinch-hit knocks. If not, he’ll always be remembered for one of the most critical grand slams in MLB postseason history.
4. Clay Buchholz (8 W, 9 L, 5.29 ERA, 156.2 IP, 169 H, 52 BB, 122 SO, 1.411 WHIP)
This enigma of a pitcher has been inconsistent as ever this year, but is seemingly (for now) turning it around to close out the season. The 5.29 ERA has actually been dropping of late, but on the whole, Buchholz has been a disappointment this season. Still at 30 years old, Buchholz may be one of the veterans of next year’s rotation, so we’ll see if he can put together an actual full, healthy, productive season in the starting five.
5. *Felix Doubront (2 W, 4 L, 6.07 ERA, 59.1 IP, 69 H, 26 BB, 43 SO, 1.601 WHIP)
What I thought was going to be a late round steal in my 16-team MLB fantasy draft last spring, turned into a quick release into free agency. After a thoroughly impressive showing in the 2013 playoffs, Sox fans were possibly looking at Doubront being one of the best number five starters in baseball entering 2014. Instead, the pitcher was traded to the Cubs near the trade deadline after a very poor first half. Who knew that Doubront leaving would only be the start of a complete roster overhaul?
Jul 28, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Felix Doubront (22) reacts against the Toronto Blue Jays during the sixth inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
*Statistics only during games with Red Sox
– Those who were also considered for this list included: Xander Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli, Brandon Workman, and Jake Peavy
THANKS FOR YOUR EFFORTS, MEN
1. David Ortiz (511 AB, 58 R, 135 H, 34 HR, 102 RBI, 74 BB, 95 SO, .264/.357/.517/.874)
While his batting average is a bit underwhelming, Big Papi – even at the age of 38 – currently leads the offense in games played, home runs, and runs batted in (by a wide margin.) This may be more of a testament to the putrid offense put on display by the Sox all year long, but 34 home runs and 102 runs batted in is certainly something that Red Sox Nation will happily accept from the aging designated hitter. This was yet another solid season from Papi, who continues to make his case for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame down the road.
Sep 11, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz (34) hits a single in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
2. Brock Holt (449 AB, 68 H, 126 H, 4 HR, 29 RBI, 33 BB, 98 SO, .281/.331/.381/.711)
Who would have thought that Holt would outlast Joel Hanrahan in Boston – the other played involved in the Dec. 26, 2012 trade with the Pirates? In his first somewhat full season in the bigs, Holt certainly tailed off in the second half of the year, but the overall numbers weren’t bad. Add on the great defense, extreme versatility, and all-out hustle, and Holt has given Red Sox management a very difficult decision on how to possibly incorporate him into next season’s roster.
* I wish I could add on to this list, but the reality is, there were no more clear candidates who deserved recognition for their output in 2014. Those who were considered, but were left off for a variety of reasons included: Mookie Betts, Jon Lester, Burke Badenhop, and Andrew Miller.
Hopefully next year’s team will produce more pleasant surprises than unfortunate disappointments.
Just because the year is coming to a close and the Sox will not be taking part in a pennant chase, doesn’t mean the opinions and analysis at BSI stops! Stay posted for plenty of game previews and recaps, injury news, rumors and more at BoSox Injection!