The Red Sox are out of the race in late September for the third time in the past four years, but fans have a lot of reasons to watch in September including the Outfield of Gold. Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley, Jr, and Mookie Betts have fans excited about the potential behind the diamond in 2016. These three players along with Xander Bogaerts, Blake Swihart, and Travis Shaw have given fans hope that the team’s future is bright from an offensive standpoint. While the pitching needs an overhaul, the team looks promising with multiple young players in the everyday lineup who are producing at a high level, particularly since the All Star break. There is hope, fans!
This post will focus on the three players who should make up the Red Sox outfield next season. Should is the key word here as no one has any idea what Dave Dombrowski has planned for this offseason. Any of these three players could be traded this offseason with Betts being the least likely to be moved. Dombrowski has hinted that he likes the idea of these three potential stars tracking down fly balls in the outfield next season. In addition, Hanley Ramirez has recently opened up to the idea of moving to first base. This idea was discussed as part of our recent post on 8/13 titled “Misperception of Hanley”.
It’s obvious to everyone that Ramirez cannot play the outfield. Moving to first base is worth a shot. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but don’t expect Don Mattingly at first base. The main point is that this potential move paves the way for the Castillo, Bradley, and Betts. All three players have All Star potential. In fact, Betts was a candidate for the All Star Game this year. His numbers at the All Star break were not that far off from Adam Jones who made the team. Bradley and Castillo produced next to nothing for the big league squad in the first half of the season. In the second half, they have been on another planet. In his last 15 games, Bradley is batting .408 with four home runs, and 19 RBI’s. He has slugging% of .918 in these games! Amazingly, he still is not in the lineup every day thanks to the Red Sox need to continue to play Hanley in left field. Castillo has been equally as impressive. In his last 15 games, he’s batting .393 with three home runs, and 15 RBI’s. For the season, he is now batting .305 with 25 RBI’s in 48 games. Betts has been solid all season. For a 22 year old in his first full season, his line of .273, 11 home runs, and 59 RBI’s is very impressive for a leadoff hitter. He also has stolen 17 bases.
These would be the Red Sox outfielders projected numbers over a 162 game season.
|Mookie Betts||.273 BA||16 HR||87 RBI||.778 OPS|
|Jackie Bradley, Jr.||.260 BA||21 HR||96 RBI||.876 OPS|
|Rusney Castillo||.305 BA||17 HR||83 RBI||.794 OPS|
Before we go leaping for joy, let’s keep in mind that two of these players haven’t even played 50 games this year and this is based on a 162 game projection. No one is going to play 162 games. 150 would be more reasonable. The point here is the overall potential. You could have three players with 15-20 home runs and 80+ RBI’s here. This seems to be likely for Betts and Castillo. For Bradley, it’s a matter of whether or not he can sustain it over time. We have to remember that he’s really only been hitting for the past month and he has struggled at the plate throughout his MLB career. Good signs lately, though!
Here’s another point about Bradley. He’s the best defensive outfielder in baseball. If he could come anything close to these numbers above, he would be an All Star when you consider his defensive impact. We’ve heard MLB experts who have been around the game for 30+ years who have said they’ve never seen an outfielder play defense better than Bradley. If he’s starting on Opening Day next year, he’s your center fielder. Betts in right. Castillo in left. This could be a gold glove outfield as all three players are elite defensively. They’re all center fielders and can track a lot of ground.
There hasn’t been this much excitement about a young Red Sox outfielder in 40 years. In 1975, the Red Sox had Jim Rice, Fred Lynn, and Dwight Evans. All three players were young. They all could hit. Two of the three of them were very strong defensively. Rice was average at best in the outfield. Rice and Lynn both won MVP awards. Evans turned into a solid hitter in the 1980’s and was in the running for an MVP in the late 80’s. This current outfield may not have an MVP, but it certainly has three solid players who have multiple tools. The key here is that these players are all around players who can contribute in multiple ways. There will be games they go 0 for 4 and will still make a big impact on the game defensively. There are plenty of tools to go around in their workspace.
Here’s hoping we see Outfield of Gold together in meaningful games next year. The bleacher seats may not be so bad!