The weekly article series where we examine the two players who deserve to strut their stuff for the Boston Red Sox. This week — Mookie Betts and Joe Kelly.
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.
After an amazing winning streak with tons of offensive productivity, the Red Sox came back down to Earth a bit last week. They played six total games with three in Kansas City, including a day/night double-header on Wednesday due to Monday night’s rain-out, and three at Fenway against the Cleveland Indians. Boston grabbed a victory in KC and took two out of three from Cleveland to go 3-3 for the week.
POSITIONAL PLAYER: Mookie Betts
The offense is still leading the league in just about every major category you can think of, but they weren’t as dominant last week as they were the week prior. I expected to keep the trend going and award the Strutting rights to either the never-aging David Ortiz or the red hot Jackie Bradley Jr., however a closer look at the numbers highlighted another member of the team.
Big Papi had a monster Sunday in the series finale against the Indians going 4-4 with three RBI and coming insanely close to hitting for the cycle, but he also had three games without a hit for the week (0-4 in game one versus the Royals, 0-5 in game two of the double-header on Wednesday and 0-3 in the first game against Cleveland that the Sox ended up losing). Also, besides Sunday’s game, he only had one other RBI on the week for a total of four. He’s still having a great season, but this wasn’t his week to Strut.
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Everyone is talking about JBJ and his ridiculous hitting streak, which has now reached an incredible 27 games. Jackie had another nice week going 7-for-16 for an eye-popping average of .438. He didn’t really have any stand-out games, though he did clobber another two home runs. He added three RBI total on the week. One underrated aspect of Bradley’s game that was very apparent last week is his patience at the plate. He walked nine times over the course of the six games which is a direct result of pitchers starting to pitch around him and JBJ seeing the ball so well.
While Papi and Bradley have probably been the MVP’s thus far for the Red Sox, another player emerged last week to grab the honors to Strut. He had a quiet start to the season, but Mookie Betts has started to come alive over the last couple weeks. Mookie had just one poor game last week when he went 0-4 with two strikeouts in the day game on Wednesday. Other than that, he was on fire. He had four multi-hit games including a 3-for-5/5 RBI performance on Saturday against Cleveland. With three doubles and two homeruns, Betts’ slugging percentage is starting to rise. Betts went 10-for-25 for the week which is a .400 average – yes, that’s lower than Bradley’s killer average, but it’s still pretty great. Add in his overall play in the field, base-running and double the amount of RBI than JBJ, and it’s obvious why Mookie gets to Strut this week.
PITCHER: Joe Kelly
The pitching continues to be the worry for Sox fans as the team enters the last week of May. Last week, things were okay for the rotation. There were no horrendous starts, but there were some that did leave a bad taste in my mouth.
Clay Buchholz just doesn’t have it this year. He managed to get through six innings but gave up three runs on five hits against the Indians in the one game they lost in that series.
Chalk up another quality start for Steven Wright. He tossed an eight inning complete game against KC, but wasn’t able to get in the win column. Wright sat down six batters by way of the K and gave up three runs on five hits.
The bullpen did their job, and Craig Kimbrel was throwing extremely hard in his couple appearances. Kimbrel added two more saves and a few strikeouts to his season totals.
Rick Porcello took the mound twice last week. He didn’t look as solid as he has been all season when he faced the Royals on Tuesday. He only managed to pitch through five innings; his worst start of the season as far as longevity goes. He also allowed four runs to score on eight hits including a homerun to Eric Hosmer. His second start of the week was better, but Porcello still only went 5.2 innings. Boston needs more out of him than that. Only two runs were charged to Porcello on the five hits he allowed, and he struck out five batters.
David Price looks to have turned the corner and is now putting a string of quality starts together. He silenced the Royals and earned a much-needed victory for Boston when he got the nod for the second game of their double-header. Price went 7.1 innings with five hits, two runs, one walk and five strikeouts.
Price’s performance would definitely be good enough to earn the right to Strut for some weeks, but there was one pitcher who surprisingly out-performed him. Joe Kelly returned from the DL to face the Indians on Saturday night. Kelly was lights out. He made it to the seventh inning without allowing a hit, but Juan Uribe finally muscled a double with two outs in the seventh to end Kelly’s near perfect night. Kelly looked to be in total control, had complete command of his fastball, tossed seven strikeouts and looked reminiscent of his awesome finish to the 2015 season.
If Kelly can keep this up, he’ll be the much-needed number three starter this team so badly needs. In the meantime, he can Strut his way around Fenway awaiting the Colorado Rockies.