CHICAGO — More than anything else, Monday’s 5-4 Red Sox loss was a reminder of how much the Red Sox had go right for them a year ago, and just how unrealistic it was to expect so much of it to carry over into 2017.
The Red Sox remain a very good team. But the success of last year’s 93-win team, of any 93-win team is, truly, difficult to replicate. Unlikely, even.
Baseball’s age of parity, the randomness of freak injuries, good old regression — the Sox were due for some elements to catch up to them after a season that was more or less golden in 2016.
Dustin Pedroia, who headed back to Boston on Monday for an MRI on his left wrist, was healthy enough to hit 15 home runs a year ago, his highest total since 2012. The way this year is going for him health-wise, just having him on the field and hitting close to .300 sounds like a worthwhile goal the rest of the way.
(Slides are Pedroia’s enemy, be it from an oncoming base runner, like Manny Machado, or an oncoming first baseman, like Jose Abreu.)
David Price wasn’t living David Price’s best baseball life a year ago. But you know what you can, and probably do, take for granted? He was healthy and devouring innings. He cleared more frames than anyone else in the regular season. Even when he wasn’t pitching well, he could pitch and pitch and pitch.
Jackie Bradley Jr. had a 1.001 OPS at the end of play on May 29, 2016. His OPS after play May 29, 2017, was .670.
We know how special David Ortiz was. Let’s not go there, because it seems like no one can talk about Ortiz’s absence rationally. His exit did not suck every home run out of the Sox lineup, as many like to say is the case, but he is — of course — a big missing piece.
Not everything was perfect in 2016, lest we remember our ex-girlfriends too fondly. Carson Smith went for Tommy John surgery, for example.
But look now: Smith still isn’t back, Tyler Thornburg is a mystery if not quite yet an afterthought and Robbie Ross Jr. not only struggled to the point he was demoted, he’s going through elbow trouble.
Rick Porcello won the American League Cy Young, much to Kate Upton’s chagrin. Porcello will not win the Cy Young this year, if you hadn’t been paying attention, although Chris Sale might.
There’s something going well for the Sox right now: that Sale guy. The bullpen coughed up the game Monday, Matt Barnes in particular. Yet Sox relievers had the fifth best ERA of any team to start the day.
Hey, Eduardo Rodriguez looks pretty good, doesn't he?
With some downward trends have come some positives. Craig Kimbrel's on another planet.
The Sox may still be a 90-win team. Again, they remain a very good club.
But the wins, the breaks aren’t coming as easily as they did a year ago. You should never have expected they would.