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Friday, September 30, 2011

Your 2011 Boston Red Sox Report Card

Well it's time to put the 2011 Boston Red Sox to bed. I've let my apathy towards the team wear off the last few days and now I need to get one last thing off my chest before we head into the long off-season: the final report card.

I'm only including guys that ended the season with the Red Sox and had a significant amount of at bats (hitters) or appearances (pitchers) so at least I could form some sort of opinion about them. Lars Anderson might be the next Albert Pujols (haha) but at least at this point, we have no idea. I'll give each player a letter grade and write a brief overview of their season with stats and my own two cents.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (103 games, 358 ABs, 52 runs, 84 hits, 23 doubles, 16 home runs, 56 RBIs, .235 BA/.288 OBP/.450 SLG)
Salty went from horrible in the beginning, solid for most of the summer and then towards the end of the season-namely September-he went off a cliff again. He showed enough to earn the starting spot next spring barring a big move.

Jason Varitek (68 games, 222 ABs, 32 runs, 49 hits, 11 home runs, 36 RBIs, .221 BA/.300 OBP/.423 SLG)
Nobody wants a 39-year old backup catcher but that's what Boston was stuck with this season. Varitek still has some value in terms of helping out the pitching staff but it's probably best to move on from him next season. Thanks for everything Jason!

Ryan Lavarnway (17 games, 39 ABs, 5 runs, 9 hits, 2 home runs, 8 RBIs, .231 BA/.302 OBP/.436 SLG)
The rookie from Yale opened many eyes this season, leading all Red Sox minor leaguers in home runs. Even more impressive, he hit two homers in the penultimate game that Boston had to win (they did). He's the backup heading into next spring until further notice.

First basemen
Adrian Gonzalez (159 games, 630 ABs, 108 runs, 213 hits, 45 doubles, 27 home runs, 117 RBIs, .338 BA/.410 OBP/.548 SLG)
As we knew all along but found out even more on Wednesday after the final meltdown, Gonzo is not a leader by any means. However, as one of baseball's best hitters he can get away with it. Work on the PR angle and drop the God's will references please. If we're being critical, he could have done more in September when Boston (7-20) was in pieces but he didn't.

Second basemen
Dustin Pedroia (159 games, 635 ABs, 102 runs, 195 hits, 37 doubles, 21 home runs, 91 RBIs, 26 stolen bases, .307 BA/.387 OBP/.474 SLG)
What is there not to love about Pedroia? I mean really. He's everything you could ever want in a baseball player: heart, skill, leader, swagger and energy. Pedroia is one of the few guys on this team that is completely exempt from the choke artists label.

Marco Scutaro (113 games, 395 ABs, 59 runs, 118 hits, 26 doubles, 7 home runs, 54 RBIs, .299 BA/.358 OBP/.423 SLG)
Scutaro earned a ton of respect for how he played through nagging injuries this season and still produced. He actually carried the team, along with Jacoby Ellsbury and Pedroia in September when everyone else was done. He deserves to come back next season as the revolving door at shortstop takes another year off.

Jed Lowrie (88 games, 309 ABs, 40 runs, 78 hits, 14 doubles, 6 home runs, 36 RBIs, .252 BA/.303 OBP/.382 SLG)
It's time to pull the plug on the Lowrie experiment. He'd be a decent backup infielder if he wasn't the most fragile person this side of J.D. Drew. You can't count on a guy like this.

Third basemen
Kevin Youkilis (120 games, 431 ABs, 68 runs, 111 hits, 32 doubles, 17 home runs, 80 RBIs, .258 BA/.373 OBP/.459 SLG)
Between an assortment of injuries and below career-averages in most categories, it was a rough season for Youk. Don't be shocked if he's trade bait this off-season. His style of play and the fact that he gets hit by so many pitches makes him susceptible to more injuries than most players.

Mike Aviles (38 games, 101 ABs, 17 runs, 32 hits, 6 doubles, 2 home runs, 8 RBIs, .317 BA/.340 OBP/.436 SLG)
This is how bad it was in September: Aviles was one of the better hitters on the team. For real though, he's a valuable utilityman and I hope he's back. He has maybe the worst swing in MLB but he makes it work well enough.

Left fielders
Carl Crawford (130 games, 506 ABs, 65 runs, 129 hits, 29 doubles, 7 triples, 11 home runs, 56 RBIs, 18 stolen bases, .255 BA/.289 OBP/.405 SLG)
Oh my, what a forgettable inaugural season in Boston for Crawford. It's hard to picture him making less of an impact while playing in so many games. He couldn't do anything right and as the season went along, he appeared to lose all the confidence he built up his entire life. Next season and beyond has to be better since frankly, how much worse could it get?

Darnell McDonald (79 games, 157 ABs, 26 runs, 37 hits, 6 doubles, 6 home runs, 24 RBIs, .236 BA/.303 OBP/.401 SLG)
The Red Sox caught lightning in a bottle last season with McDonald, this season he regressed back to what he's been for most of his career. He's mediocre, even as a backup outfielder and they'd be best served to say farewell to Boston's most tattooed player.

Center fielder
Jacoby Ellsbury (158 games, 660 ABs, 119 runs, 212 hits, 46 doubles, 5 triples, 32 home runs, 105 RBIs, 39 stolen bases, .321 BA/.376 OBP/.552 SLG)
I'd be lying if I said I ever dreamed that Ellsbury would have a season resembling the one he turned in during 2011. I'm clearly bias but it would be a shame if he doesn't win the AL MVP. To appreciate his greatness, you had to watch him every day. Boston's first ever 30-30 guy was electric at the plate and he also deserves a Gold Glove.

Right fielders
J.D. Drew (81 games, 248 ABs, 23 runs, 55 hits, 4 home runs, 22 RBIs, .212 BA/.315 OBP/.302 SLG)
No question, the best part of having this season end early is the fact that it means that Drew's reign of terror in Boston is mercifully over. One of the worst free agent signings by GM Theo Epstein (which is saying something), Drew couldn't have mailed it in any more this season but who cares, he's gone!

Josh Reddick (87 games, 254 ABs, 41 runs, 71 hits, 18 doubles, 7 home runs, 28 RBIs, .280 BA/.327 OBP/.457 SLG)
There was a stretch in the middle of the season when Reddick was awesome, just completely playing over his head. Predictably, he came back to Earth in a big way and was benched at the end of the season as Drew magically stopped by for a few days.

Designated Hitter
David Ortiz (146 games, 525 ABs, 84 runs, 162 hits, 40 doubles, 29 home runs, 96 RBIs, .309 BA/.398 OBP/.554 SLG)
Big Papi proved that he still has something left in the tank and he deserves to be brought back next season. He went ice cold in September but he's still a valuable member of this team, it would be a shame to see him go anywhere else before his career ends.

Starting pitchers
Jon Lester (31 games, 15-9, 19 quality starts, 191.2 IP, 182 strikeouts, 1.26 WHIP, 3.47 ERA)
It was an up and down season for Boston's ace and truthfully, it needs to be better. He faded badly in September so we'll see if he was playing with an injury. With more consistency, he can be one of the top pitchers in the AL and top lefties in the game.

Josh Beckett (30 games, 13-7, 20 quality starts, 193 IP, 175 strikeouts, 1.03 WHIP, 2.89 ERA)
These numbers don't tell the full story as Beckett was head of the chokers in September. Time and again, he couldn't give his team the start they desperately needed. Would it kill him to go through a full season (over 200 IP) without some very minor injury that sidelines him? The Texas toughguy is a diva that will never change for better or worse.

John Lackey (28 games, 12-12, 9 quality starts, 160 IP, 108 strikeouts, 1.62 WHIP, 6.41 ERA)
The most unlikable Red Sox since I've been paying attention, Theo needs to do everything possible to get rid of this useless bozo. A mess on and off the field, Lackey has the worst attitude and he backs it up with awful stuff.

Erik Bedard (1-2 in 8 starts, 2 quality starts, 1.55 WHIP, 4.03 ERA)
There's a reason I wasn't the least bit excited when the Red Sox obtained this piece of garbage at the trade deadline. I hope to never see him play another game for Boston, he is terrible.

Tim Wakefield (23 games, 7-8, 8 quality starts, 154.2 IP, 93 strikeouts, 1.36 WHIP, 5.12 ERA)
I don't want to sound like a jerk. We all love Wake but you can't let him take the franchise hostage while he chases a record (most Red Sox wins) that only he seems to care about. Getting to 200 wins this season took away from this team's momentum and they don't need more distractions like that next season. Thanks for the memories Wake.

Clay Buchholz (14 starts, 6-3, 6 quality starts, 82.2 IP, 60 strikeouts, 1.29 WHIP, 3.48 ERA)
The great unknown for this team was what a healthy Buchholz would have meant to them. Truly he was the X factor since when healthy, he's super talented and he had just come into his own last season. He should bounce back in a big way next season.

Relief pitchers
Alfredo Aceves (55 games, 10-2, 2 saves, 11 holds, 114.0 IP, 80 strikeouts, 1.11 WHIP, 2.61 ERA)
I will go to my grave maintaining that Aceves was the Red Sox' best pitcher in 2011. I've never seen a guy that's so versatile with such a rubber arm (he pitched in the last four games of the season!). He deserves to be paid, he couldn't have done any more this season for this team, a true winner.

Jonathan Papelbon (63 games, 4-1, 31 saves, 64.1 IP, 87 strikeouts, 0.93 WHIP, 2.94 ERA)
Don't let the last moment of the season fool you, Pap had a wonderful 2011. Some have stated it was his best season for the Red Sox which I think is a slight exaggeration but this man earned the huge pay day he'll get this winter (hopefully from Boston). The best part about the new Pap was that he cut down on the stupid antics and also stood up in September and took blame for losses (a very rare trait on this team of 25 individuals).

Daniel Bard (70 games, 2-9, 1 save, 34 holds, 73 IP, 74 strikeouts, 0.96 WHIP, 3.33 ERA).
One of baseball's best setup men proved in 2011 that's he's not ready for prime time (aka closing). Nobody fell apart worse than Bard in September, it was nuts. He needs more seasoning before his role is changed. Moreover, please don't convert him to a starter. He's a top-notch eighth inning guy when he's right.

Scott Atchison (17 games, 30.1 IP, 1.22 WHIP, 3.26 ERA)
My friend said Atchison looks like a math teacher and I can't disagree. However, he has some value on the mound too and I hope he sticks with the team next season and they don't constantly shuttle him back and forth to Pawtucket. Perfect long relief guy.

Franklin Morales (36 games, 1-1, 8 holds, 32.1 IP, 31 strikeouts, 1.27 WHIP, 3.62 ERA).
Nothing special by any means but worth a longer look in spring training next season and another year with the team. We all know how tough it is to find good lefties, especially out of the bullpen.

Dan Wheeler (47 games, 2-2, 4 holds, 49.1 IP, 39 strikeouts, 1.11 WHIP, 4.38 ERA).
Very uneven season for Wheeler, he might not have much left in his arm. Just when he started to get on a roll he was done with a mysterious injury, never to return.

Matt Albers (56 games, 4-4, 10 holds, 64.2 IP, 68 strikeouts, 1.44 WHIP, 4.73 ERA)
The surprise of the first half had a miserable second half and by the end, Terry Francona basically avoided him at all cost in a close game. Still, he should be back next season and maybe less work early in the year will prevent him from burning out so abruptly.

Andrew Miller (17 games, 12 starts, 6-3, 3 starts, 65 IP, 50 strikeouts, 1.82 WHIP, 5.54 ERA).
The Andrew Miller experience followed his career path: glimpses of promise followed by much inconsistency. Does he return? I don't know, either way it probably doesn't matter.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to dress up my resume in hopes of becoming Boston's next manager. Thanks for reading this season about the Red Sox and enjoy the MLB playoffs!

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