4 struggling Red Sox players who need to turn it around before fans really lose it

Miami Marlins v Boston Red Sox
Miami Marlins v Boston Red Sox / Paul Rutherford/GettyImages

The Boston Red Sox don't exactly look like a team of All-Stars. Boston has been plagued by injuries, so its best lineup isn't taking the field each day, but some Sox are struggling more than others.

Some Sox aren't performing well at the plate, some haven't shown out in the field, and some are struggling on both sides of the ball. Surprisingly, Boston's pitching staff, which many fans and reporters expected to be its biggest weak spot, has been lights out.

Defense has revealed itself to be the Red Sox's biggest weakness and their fielding may be even worse than last year. Boston holds league-worst numbers in errors and unearned runs, and the Sox have cost themselves multiple games already.

If these four Red Sox hit their stride, many of the team's issues would subside.

4 struggling Red Sox players who need to turn it around before fans really lose it

Kenley Jansen

Jansen's spot on this list exists on a technicality. He hasn't performed poorly in the grand scheme of things, but his recent lack of command has been giving Sox fans a lot of stress.

The veteran closer has struggled with control in his recent outings and he's been walking batters at a higher clip than normal. In April, Jansen has posted seven walks in 5.2 innings pitched. He blew his first save against the Guardians on April 16 after they collected three hits in the ninth inning to send the game to extras. The Red Sox ended up losing that game after an electric middle-innings rally.

Jansen's velocity has also noticeably slowed. The righty used to crack 100-plus miles per hour frequently, but his cutter — far and away his most-used pitch — has dropped to an average velocity of 91.9 miles per hour.

Jansen's rougher performances add insult to injury after the Red Sox tried to pursue a trade involving him for weeks during the offseason. He admitted to feeling "frustrated" with the way Boston's offseason went, and fans can't blame him. But he may be better suited to a different role in the bullpen at this stage in his career.

David Hamilton

David Hamilton showed out in his first game as Trevor Story's replacement at shortstop, and that's about it. The 26-year-old homered and made a few slick defensive plays to set expectations high for his tenure with the Sox, but he's missed the mark since.

Hamilton has made five official errors as Boston's shortstop and a few more miscues that counted for hits. Opposing teams have challenged multiple plays because Hamilton has missed the bag at second, or he's not touching it clearly enough. He even missed the bag at first base while attempting to dig out an infield hit and he was called out.

Hamilton's bat hasn't been impressive enough to excuse his defensive miscues. He's 6-for-33 at the plate in 11 games. Hopefully, Romy González's wrist is healing well because the Red Sox need serious help at shortstop.

Ceddanne Rafaela

Ceddanne Rafaela flashed his defensive skill early and showed out on both sides of the ball during spring training. His early showings earned him an eight-year contract extension, which may be why there's so much pressure on him to break out.

Rafaela has always been regarded as a free-swinger and it's showing. The outfielder is batting .161/.206/.258 in 20 games. He's logged 10 hits and four of them have gone for extra bases, but strikeouts are accumulating at a rapid pace. The righty has struck out 19 times vs just three walks, and his struggles with place discipline have been apparent.

Fans have high expectations of Rafaela after the organization placed its trust in him enough to grant him a contract extension. If he could sort out his issues at the plate, Rafaela's defensive skill, versatility and speed would make him a threat in every sense of the word. Red Sox manager Alex Cora said he's noticed improvements in Rafaela's development at the plate, so hopefully the changes break through soon.

Enmanuel Valdez

Enmanuel Valdez has come through for the Sox a few times when they've needed him to. The infielder has shown off some power at the plate, which includes a 442-foot homer on April 16 against the Guardians.

But Valdez's defense needs serious help. He's made a slew of fielding miscues, however only one has gone down as an error. He and Hamilton defending side by side is a dangerous combination and the middle infield has been the cause of a lot of Boston's fielding woes in Trevor Story's absence.

Valdez's bat was supposed to make up for his mediocre defense, but he hasn't delivered consistently at the plate to cancel it out. The lefty is batting just .154/.193/.288 and he's struck out 17 times. In 2023, Valdez showed he can hit at the big-league level, but his 2024 production hasn't come close to what he's done before.

More Red Sox reads: