McAdam's 2015 Red Sox Report Card
McAdam's 2015 Red Sox Report Card
A 78-84 record. Another last-place finish, their second straight and third in four years. Again, no playoffs . . . the fifth time in six years they’ve missed the postseason.
No, it wasn’t a banner year for the Boston Red Sox as a team.
But what about the individuals? How did each of the players do? How many of them performed well enough to establish themselves as part of the future, and how many proved they were part of the problem?
The answers – or at least some of them – can be found in our 2015 Red Sox report card:
David Ortiz: A
Belying his age and nagging injuries, Ortiz posted a team-best .913 OPS. He led the team in homers (37); RBI (108); walks (77) and total bases (292). At nearly 40, he remains a marvel. Unfortunately, at nearly 40, he also remains the most irreplaceable hitter in their lineup.
And to think that some questioned the wisdom of the Red Sox giving him that contract extension in the spring of 2014.
Mookie Betts: A
In his first full season in the big leagues, Betts removed all doubts about his future. He proved himself to be a successful leadoff hitter, exhibiting more patience as the season went along. He led the team in runs scored (92), WAR (6.0) and highlight-reel catches. He'll continue to improve in the outfield, too, a position he had never played professionally until 17 months ago.
Xander Bogaerts: A
Finally, it seems, the ever revolving door at shortstop has come to a stop. The Red Sox have found their shortstop of the present and future. He contended for a batting title, came close to 200 hits and was so improved defensively that he merits Gold Glove consideration. All that's missing is power. Don't bet against him figuring out that part of his game.
Dustin Pedroia: A-
A troublesome hamstring strain caused Pedroia two lengthy DL stints and limited him to just 93 games, his fewest since 2010. But when Pedroia played, he showed signs of once again being the player he was from 2007-2011. Most encouragingly, he averaged a homer every 31.8 at-bats, more than twice what he averaged in the previous two years, evidence that the power isn't gone from the game after various hand and wrist injuries limited him in 2012-2014.
Travis Shaw: B+
"Revelation'' might be too strong, but "pleasant surprise" seems like a good fit. Shaw seemed to be a 4A player with little power to offer after hitting just five homers in the first half of the season at Pawtucket. But given playing time from late July on, Shaw flourished and showed real pop -- 13 homers in just 226 at-bats with a slugging percentage of .491. He's very much part of the converssation for 2015 now.
Brock Holt: B
In retrospect, Holt shouldn't have been the Red Sox' All-Star representative -- that honor should have gone to Bogaerts. But Holt once again ably filled seven different positions (plus DH on the final weekend). He's probably not an everyday player, since he doesn't do any one thing well above-average. But, his enormous flexibility makes him a valuable piece on any club.
Blake Swihart: B-
Thanks to a season-ending injury to Christian Vazquez and a two-month absence for Ryan Hanigan, Swihart got pressed into major league duty far sooner than expected. After initially being overwhelmed -- especially at the plate -- due to all his responsibilites, Swihart stabilized and showed great growth over the season. His .805 second-half OPS was impressive.
He was league-average in throwing out opposing runners (28 percent) but still needs work receiving, as the 16 passed balls attest. But at 23, there's already a lot to like and much more upside to come.
Jackie Bradley Jr: B-
Once again, Bradley was brilliant in the field, no matter where he played. His play in left field, a position he hadn't played much, in the final week at Yankee Stadium was eye-opening and series-changing, yet another reminder of his defensive excellence.
For a period of a month, Bradley seemed to figure out things at the plate. From Aug. 7 through Sept. 7, Bradley had this slash line: .422/.469/.889. From the final three weeks of the season, it was back to struggling with a .138 average in the final 25 games.
That kind of streakiness can't continue. But if Bradley can hit .250 -- he finished at .249 -- and contribute with his glove, he's still a worthwhile everyday player.
Rusney Castillo: C
More than a year after his signing, the Red Sox still don't exactly what they've got with the Cuban native. At times, his athleticism in the field and on the bases, coupled with a month-long hot streak at the plate, hinted at his potential. But like Bradley, he remained inconsistent at the plate and the near-constant run of nagging injuries is worrisome -- to say the least.
Ryan Hanigan: C
Hanigan missed two months with a broken finger earlier in the season and didn't play much in the final weeks when the injury was aggravated. He exhibited almost no power (two homers in 174 at-bats; .328 slugging percentage) but reached base at a decent clip (.338 OBP). His real contributions came behind the plate, where he got a turnaround from Rick Porcello and threw out 33 percent of base stealers. Solid, backup catcher capable of a heavier workload when necessary.
Deven Marrero: D+
He got more playing time than anyone could have anticipated when Pablo Sandoval missed the final few weeks with pnemonia and the natural shortstop handled third base fairly well. At the plate, he was often overmatched, with difficulty making consistent contact. His path at short is blocked by Bogaerts, so if Marrero is to stay with the Sox, it will likely be in a utility role.
Josh Rutledge: D+
Obtained in the deal that sent Shane Victorino to the Angels, Rutledge began poorly, but settled in after a while. He doesn't have great range in the infield and has shown virtually no pop in his bat (two extra-base hits in 74 at-bats). Marginal utility player who probably won't have a role with the big league team next year.
Sandy Leon: D
Leon is the very definition of a catch-and-throw receiver. He threw out half the opposing baserunners trying to steal and was a superb defensive catcher. Offensively, however, he was inept with a . 439 OPS. Nice insurance at Triple A, but because of his offensive struggles, he's no more than a No. 3 catcher.
Hanley Ramirez: D -
Ahh, where to start? Ramirez looked to be, if nothing else, a productive bat in the first month when he posted an OPS of .999 and belted 10 homers. It was all downhill from there, however. Ramirez seemed to get worse -- not better - in the outfield as the season progressed. Most infuriating of all, he didn't seem interested in getting better. A willingness to play hurt and some offensive production is all that's keeping him from an F.
Allen Craig: F
Craig's inexplicable career nose-dive qualifies as equal parts sad and mysterious. Craig didn't even show much offensive life at Triple A, where he was exiled most of the season. Once one of the N.L.'s most feared hitters, he looks completely done at age 31 -- with two years remaining on his deal.
Pablo Sandoval: F
Sandoval's first season in Boston was disastrous. He gave up hitting righthanded, played a poor third base and showed next-to-no extra-base ability.
Rich Hill: A
If Travis Shaw qualifies as biggest surprise, than Hill's September performance was positively shocking. Returning to the starter's role, Hill emerged from a summer that saw him get released and pitch in independent ball before getting a chance at Pawtucket, and, eventually, Boston. Once there, he was magnificent - 36 strikeouts and 14 hits allowed in 29 innings. A great story.
Clay Buchholz: B+
Once again, Buchholz pitched like an ace -- but only for a time. After a poor first few weeks, he posted a 2.20 ERA over the next two months. But predictably, he ran into an injury -- to his elbow/forearm -- and while the original diagnosis had Buchholz out for about six weeks, he never pitched again. He remains, at 31, an enigma. He's also, for better or worse, the Red Sox best starter.
Eduardo Rodriguez: B+
One of the most positive developments of the 2015 season, Rodriguez was supposed to be a one-game plug-in into the Red Sox rotation on the final weekend of May. Instead, he remained for the entire season, making another 20 starts. As might be expected, there was a learning curve, resulting in four starts in which he allowed six or more earned runs. But tellingly, there were 11 starts in which he allowed none or one run. In all, there were 15 starts in which he yielded two earned runs or fewer. An ace in development?
Koji Uehara: B+
Like teammate David Ortiz, Uehara appears ageless. He was 25-for-28 in save chances and pitched to a 2.23 ERA before seeing his season end when a comebacker broke his wrist on Aug. 7. Would the Red Sox have finished at .500 -- or better -- if he had remained healthy? Perhaps.
Wade Miley: B-
Miley was essentially as advertized: a durable (193 2/3 innings) backend starter. He led Red Sox starters in innings and wins. He pitches to contact (he averaged more than a hit per inning) and doesn't overpower hitters, but for a mid-pridced starter, he has value.
Henry Owens: C
Owens showed promise in 11 starts, getting a jump-start on his big league career. Like Rodirguez, he showed some inconsistency and weathered a few stinkers, three times allowing seven runs when his fastball command seemed to desert him. He's still learning how to control his lanky frame and his mechanics can be off, but it appears as though there might be a middle-of-the-rotation arm in there somewhere, thanks to a plus changeup.
Joe Kelly: C
Talk about a tale of two halves: Kelly was brutal in the first few months (5.57 ERA; four times failing to get through five innings). After a demotion to Pawtucket, Kelly seemed to come to the realization that he couldn't survive in the big leagues trying to throw his fastball past hitters and became a more complete pitcher in the second half, when he had a 3.77 ERA. In his final eight starts, there was evidence (2.35) that Kelly could potentially by a front-end starter. OF course, he's had those stretches before.
Junichi Tazawa: C
Years of heavy use out of the bullpen caight up with Tazawa when he seemed to hit the wall. He had a respectable 2.93 ERA in the first week of August before the slide began. It's clear he's not cut out for closing - as a few disastrous ninth-inning outings demonstrated -- but healthy and monitored for his workload, he's still an effective set-up weapon.
Steven Wright: C
Wright made nine spot starts while Buchholz and Porcello recovered from injuries and Kelly languished at Triple A. He kept the team in most of them (three runs or fewer in eight outings). He may be nothing more than a depth starter in the future, but that shouldn't be dismissed.
Tommy Layne: C-
Layne's problem was that he was exposed too often. He was most effective when facing lefties -- whom he kept to an impressive .418 OPS. Right-handed hitters, however, lit him up, hitting .322 while slugging .517. The Sox didn't have enough of bullpen to use him as he should have been used. It would be a good idea to cut down on the walks (5.1 per nine innings), too.
Robbie Ross Jr.: C-
Ross gamely filled in in a handful of roles -- long man, multi-inning middle reliever, lefty specialist and ultimately, closer. In a perfect world, he's a sixth- or seventh-inning man.
Heath Hembree: C-
Hembree got some opportunities in the second half and performed fairly well, with a 3.55 ERA. For someone who throws in the mid-90s, however, it seems there's far more contact than they should be, and correspondingly, not many swings-and-misses.
Alexi Ogando: D+
Ogando looked like a decent find in the first two months, but he, too, was overworked early and his performance seemed to suffer because of it as the season developed. He was often hit hard and gave up 12 homers in just 65 1/3 innings.
Rick Porcello: D
Like Kelly, Porcello made some second-half adjustments -- in this case, focusing far more on his two-seamer with positive results. In the final six weeks, the Red Sox saw more of the guy they thought they were getting when they traded for him last December. Still, out of 36 qualifying starters in the American League, Porcello's ERA was 33rd out of 36. And the ill-advised contract extension has yet to kick in.
Craig Breslow: D
There was no one more respected in the Red Sox clubhouse and his willingness to work as a spot starter in the final weeks spoke to his reputation as a great teammate. He performed well in two starts and, who knows, could find a future there. He was ordinary at best in his traditional relief role and almost certainly won't be back.
Matt Barnes: D
There were times when it appeared that Barnes was figuring out the relief role. He strung together seven scoreless outings in September, but struggled in his last couple. It's impossible to succeed in relief with a 1.65 WHIP. Control is a big issue (15 walks in 43 innings) and so too was his propensity for giving up the long ball (nine homers allowed).
Jean Machi: D-
The Sox took a flier on Machi when he was designated by the Giants. It seemed like a decent gamble to take, given his history. But these things don't always work out and Machi's bloated 5.09 is proof that this one didn't.