The performances of David Price, Hanley Ramirez, and Rick Porcello for the Red Sox have now given me a glorious mea culpa opportunity.
Sometimes it feels really good to be wrong. Time for a writing version of self-flagellation as I trace back to some of the articles that have given me a healthy dose of comeuppance or a visit to the Crowbusters for some up to date recipes.
I was certainly not kind to David Price, but there was actually some credibility to it and it was all provided by Price. The first half of the season Price was a faux ace – a cheap import like some trinket manufactured in a third world hell hole by kids getting twenty-five cents a day. The numbers were deplorable for a pitcher with his credentials.
The base numbers were alarming as Price saw his ERA stagger in at 4.34 with the dreadful tendency to give up home runs and leads at the most inopportune of times. The strikeout totals were impressive and the one nugget of hope that this was a pitching mirage was a FIP of 3.38 and xFIP even lower at 3.13. Was Price just getting his bearings?
Since the All-Star break, Price has been consistently improving incrementally and it shows. Run support as always has been beneficial, but Price simply shuts the door. Price is now the fourth-ranked starting pitcher in the American League according to Fangraphs and that cannot be disputed. The debate will soon center on Price and Rick Porcello getting the precious first go in the playoffs.
Hanley Ramirez move to first base has been an obvious success, but I had little doubts over that decision. However, I also felt the opportunity presented itself to trade Ramirez when his potential value was escalating. My assumption was that Ramirez – a notorious streak hitter – would soon return to a prolonged slump and stall the offense. Never happened.
Defensively Ramirez is ranked sixth in the American League and presents us with a negative UZR/150 of – 6.5. As a former professor was prone to say “balderdash.” Eric Hosmer is last among qualifiers at -7.7 and even the three rodents chased by the farmer’s wife can “see” how adept Hosmer is. That alone should make one scratch one’s noggin over fielding metrics.
Ramirez has hit and hit with intensity, clutch and panache that has made him a welcomed batsman when runners are on base and some line drive terror is needed. In the first half Ramirez had a respectable .288 average, but only eight home runs and 48 RBI. Since then the home runs multiplied two-fold and the RBI total for the season has reached 100 for only the second time in his career.
Hanley had a cloud of negativity surrounding him when he was brought into Boston. The rumor on the street was Ramirez was somewhat of a sensitive character who managed to rub teammates and management the wrong way. In Boston that has not been present – not a hint of discord. Ramirez has readily accepted position changes and has certainly put in the necessary effort.
Rick Porcello is probably a “mea” without the “culpa.” I really didn’t write about Porcello, but have posted numerous times that I expected a return to 2014 form with the Tigers – a dependable middle or lower rotation pitcher who keeps you in the game. I certainly was not alone on a South Seas island with this opinion.
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Porcello has exceeded expectations and start with the very traditional 20 wins. The idea is to put your team in a position to win and Porcello does exactly that. The run support is exceptional for Porcello and that is a big plus for that 20 number, but he is now firmly in the mix for a very prestigious post-season Cy Young Award.
Porcello is like Price in the one department that gives me the happy dance and that is BB/9. Only the Twins Josh Tomlin has a lower BB/9 than Porcello among qualified American League starters. Price is also well recognized with BB/9 of 1.93. Both Price and Porcello will give up the long ball, but that is the hazard of throwing strikes. As the great Robin Roberts once stated: “Sometimes my strikes get too much of the plate.”
My list will stand at what it now is. Maybe Ben Cherington will be an addition for next year? One thing is certain and that is John Farrell will never be plunked onto my mea culpa list.