Red Sox Strut 2016: Week Two
The weekly article series where we examine the two players who deserve to strut their stuff for the Boston Red Sox. This week: David Ortiz & Koji Uehara.
Now, to fully understand what the Red Sox Strut is, it means to have reason to walk with a confident, proud air around you. Some people mistake it for vanity, arrogance, or being pompous. This incorrect assumption is not what we mean. The Strut is about knowing that your deeds showed off your amazing skills to the baseball-loving public.
POSITION PLAYER: The Big Popper Cometh
One could make the argument that Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts was the hottest player with the bat, earning the most RBIs with six to his credit. Many players like Christian Vazquez, Travis Shaw, and even Hanley Ramirez have been good with the glove as well as with the bat. However, Mr. Ortiz is seeing the ball so well that he is sustaining offense like nobody else on the team.
Honestly, it’s simply because opposing pitchers fear the ‘Popper’.
Ortiz hit .300/.440/.600 with a home run and five RBIs for the week. Maybe not as many as Bogaerts, but Ortiz also has five walks to only two strikeouts for 20 at-bats. Bogaerts has one walk with four strikeouts. Bogaerts has two stolen bases, you say? Well, Ortiz wasn’t lightning on the base path but he also posted a stolen base, no matter how slow he went to do it. Ortiz also has three doubles, more than any other player in the lineup in the last seven days.
Between the power and the baseball I.Q., Ortiz was putting the fear into opposing teams, looking like a threat every single time he came to the plate. For a man who is planning to retire this season, Big Papi is looking very spry for his age.
PITCHER: The Rising Elder Son Holds Strong
Speaking of a man defying the hand of time, Uehara is back and as good as ever. He may not be the closer anymore, but Uehara has been as automatic as it gets from a reliever.
In four innings of work, the Japanese native has taken his 40-year-old arm and looked like he’s a young stud on the mound, allowing only two hits while striking out four opposing batters. Craig Kimbrel is in that equation with three saves, except the slip that he had in one of his appearances cost him and the Red Sox the game earlier in the week. Junichi Tazawa also was very solid, but his sample size was even smaller than Uehara’s.
Koji’s .154 opposing batting average gives everyone the confidence that the Red Sox were going to win those games, retrieving memories of the old, younger Uehara closing out the ninth innings in World Series championship games. All that the starters have to do is get to the sixth or seventh innings and wait for Uehara to keep that eighth perfect for Kimbrel’s ninth.