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 and Steven Wright.
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.
Overall, last week was another decent stretch for the Red Sox. They got a couple victories over the Yankees and took a series from a solid opponent in the Chicago White Sox. The sample size is Sunday to Sunday for this week’s Strut meaning that they went 4-3 in seven games. The offense is playing well and is definitely clicking, while the pitching is still inconsistent and is cause for concern. This week, we already get repeat Strutters in both categories.
POSITIONAL PLAYER: The Papi Strut
Last week’s Strutter was Jackie Bradley, Jr, and he cooled down a bit this week. He isn’t in a slump by any means, just not keeping up that torrid pace with multiple triples and RBI. Travis Shaw and Xander Bogaerts continue to display their skills at the plate and in the field, but weren’t quite good enough to stand out amongst the rest of the team.
This week came down to two guys in particular, and these are two players that are the symbols for veteran leadership in the Sox clubhouse. Of course I’m talking about David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia. Both have started strong in 2016 and are big reasons that the Boston lineup has been nightmarish for opposing pitchers.
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When you break down the numbers, both had very similar averages for the week. Ortiz went 8-for-29 (.276), and Pedroia went 9-for-31 (.290). Pedroia’s play in the field has been great per usual. Still, the homerun and RBI columns push Big Papi over the top. He finished with eight RBI on the week compared to Pedroia’s three. David also crushed four total homeruns in these seven games while Pedroia hit just one.
Ortiz was huge in game two of the series against the White going 2-5 with three RBI and a homerun. Then, after getting tossed on Friday night against NY in Yankee Stadium for arguing balls and strikes, he had his revenge on Sunday night when he absolutely blasted two homeruns off of starter Luis Severino. He now has nine homeruns on the year with an OBP of .393 and is slugging a mega .673. Big Papi is clearly in the zone in his final season before retirement and is hitting any fastball even remotely close to the strike zone making Sox fans dread his upcoming departure from the game. Until then, let’s enjoy it … and allow Big Papi to Strut his stuff for the second time already this year.
PITCHER: Another Knuckle Strut
The Achilles heel for the Red Sox this season has clearly been their starting pitching. David Price had two starts in these seven games and is still not looking like his old self. They won the first game against the Yankees in Boston despite Price giving up six runs on eight hits. Then Price really got rocked by the Yankees in New York on Saturday night when he couldn’t even get through five innings. His performance thus far is very concerning for a team that was hoping for a twenty win season from the superstar.
Clay Buchholz had a bit of a bounce-back game against the White Sox going seven innings and giving up just two runs on three hits and six strikeouts. This is a great outing for Clay, but I still don’t think it’s worthy of any awards, and he’s probably the last pitcher that should Strutting at all.
It was a tough week for Henry Owens who only went three innings against Chicago. He only let up two runs on two hits, but he also walked six batters and threw 64 pitches. Later in the week he was optioned back to Pawtucket to work on his command.
Another quality start for Rick Porcello this week. He went seven innings once again and gave up three runs on six hits and two walks. He also struck out five but wasn’t quite as sharp as he had looked in his previous outings.
The bullpen has been good for the Sox this season and Craig Kimbrel was able add two saves, but no one truly stood out.
That means that, once again, the most consistent man in the rotation gets the Strut honors this week. Thiry-one year old knuckleballer Steven Wright continues to baffle Red Sox nation and opposing batters with his masterful control. Wright had the opportunity to take the mound twice over the last seven games. He ended up getting the loss against the White Sox, but it was not a poor showing. He went 6.0 innings with three hits, two runs, four walks, and six strikeouts. The Sox offense didn’t muster up much help for this start.
Then Wright cruised over the Yankees on Sunday night in Boston. He pitched a complete game and only gave up one run on three hits and one walk. Wright also added seven strikeouts and was in the driver’s seat all night.
It’s thoroughly enjoyable to watch Wright toss the knuckler on any given night. He works quickly and efficiently and looks to have complete confidence in himself, even when he decides to throw his fastball and his change-up. Steven Wright has come out of nowhere and has been a breath of fresh air during a year in which the Red Sox need as much help as they can possibly get in the pitching department. He has clearly earned his spot and cannot be moved anywhere else once Eduardo Rodriguez is healthy. In the meantime…Strut knuckleballer…STRUT!