The Major League Baseball regular season will be coming to a close this weekend and it’s time to assess the Red Sox season with a Report Card. Overall, most fans would say this season has been a disappointment. After finishing in last place in 2014, there were higher expectations and the Sox were expected to at least contend for a playoff spot. By mid-July, the team was already out of contention. Although the team was out of the race in August and September, they have played very well and ended the season strong bringing new hope and expectations as we look towards 2016.
Let’s rate the position players performance in 2015. The criteria for this report card is any player with at least 100 at bats. We’ll also have a second post on Sunday which will include pitchers, managers, and the front office.
Any stats in this post are as of 9/29 and will not reflect the end of the season numbers. So, let’s get to it! Here’s Part One of First Score Boston’s 2015 Boston Red Sox Report Card!
Blake Swihart – B : Swihart was not expected to be a part of the big league club until the second half of the season at the very earliest. He was plugged in as a starter when Ryan Hanigan got injured. After a slow start, his bat came around and he made significant progress defensively. The Red Sox really couldn’t have asked for much more from a 23 year old rookie.
Ryan Hanigan – C : When Christian Vazquez went down with an injury in spring training, Hanigan was asked to do something he’s not used to. He was asked to be a starting catcher. He was injured for the majority of the season and it was unrealistic to think he would hold up as a starter all year. A .247 batting average and solid defense were just about the expectation here.
Sandy Leon – C- : Defense – outstanding. Offense – brutal. Enough said.
Mike Napoli – F : A .207 hitter with 13 home runs and 40 RBI’s in 98 games. The most amazing number here is 98 games. The fact that he played this many games batting in the heart of the order is a big reason why the Sox were out of contention in July. At one point during the middle of the season, he had the worst OPS off all starting first basemen in MLB. His defense was not much better. While Napoli made strong contributions to the 2013 championship team, his last two years were well below expectations. Awful season!
Travis Shaw – B+ : Where did this guy come from?! He was never regarded as a top prospect. He was brought up as a fill in when the Sox finally decided to cut ties with Napoli and he did nothing but produce! He has 12 home runs and 32 RBI in just 59 games. He also has an .852 OPS. To put that in perspective, there are only 10 qualifying players in the American League who have a higher OPS than Travis Shaw! Red Sox first baseman in 2016? He certainly deserves strong consideration.
Brock Holt – B+ : The ultimate utility player had a very strong year and somehow landed on the All Star Team. He does everything the team asks him to do. Holt’s value goes far beyond the numbers.
Dustin Pedroia – B : It would have been interesting to see where Pedroia’s numbers would have ended up had he played a full season. It seemed like he was back to his old self offensively with his gap power and he was pulling the ball better than he had the previous two seasons. .294 with 12 home runs and 42 RBI in just 89 games. His .806 OPS was the best he’s had since 2011. Pedroia is still excellent defensively. He’s arguably the best second baseman in the AL. The only question continues to be if he can stay on the field.
Xander Bogaerts – A : If someone told you before this season that Xander Bogaerts would be second in the AL in batting and had the second least errors in the AL, would you have believed them? How about leading the AL in hits? Wow! What a progression in his second full season. At just 23, Bogaerts is on the brink of becoming a legitimate superstar. He’s already the best shortstop in the American League, leading AL shortstops in hits, doubles, RBI’s, Runs, OPS, and WAR. One day fans will look back to 2015 as the season Bogaerts took his biggest step forward.
Pablo Sandoval – D- : After he was signed to the big contract, many fans had already made up their mind about this move. Sandoval had no incentive to get in shape and it showed in his play both at the plate and in the field. He has been a colossal disappointment.
David Ortiz – A : Death, taxes, and 30/100 from Big Papi. What this player is doing is simply amazing. 36 home runs and 104 RBI’s. This marks his sixth season in the past seven years in which he’s had over 28 HR’s and 96 RBI’s. There are a handful of players in MLB who can put up these numbers consistently. Yet, the focus is always on his age and when it will come to and end. This is interesting considering the talk of Tom Brady playing football until he’s 50, no?
Hanley Ramirez – F : A complete disgrace! Outside of a strong start at the plate through mid-May, Ramirez offered nothing to the Boston Red Sox. He didn’t hit. He couldn’t field. He showed no effort. You would be hard pressed to find a player in MLB who was a worse influence on a team. A grade above F cannot even be entertained. Hopefully, the end is near.
Rusney Castillo – C : Ehhh. Castillo has a great stretch for about a month in the second half of the season and then tailed off again. He has yet to show consistency at the plate. On a positive note, he’s above average defensively. He has fallen short of expectations, but there is still hope for more here.
Mookie Betts – A- : Betts made significant progress in 2015 and showed he can be an All Star caliber player. .295 with 16 home runs and 73 RBI’s at age 23 in the leadoff spot is very impressive. Defensively, the transition from second base to centerfield has been nothing short of amazing. Similar to Bogaerts, we may be seeing something special in the making.
Jackie Bradley, Jr. – B+ : Did anyone think Jackie Bradley, Jr. would have 10 home runs and 42 RBI’s after basically spending the first three and a half months of the season in Pawtucket? His bat came alive after many fans thought he had proven that he can’t hit in the big leagues. Defensively, he continues to be an A+ player. There’s not a better defensive outfielder in the game.
Alejandro De Aza: – B- : De Aza was a solid fill in during his tenure with the Red Sox. He did more than what was expected before being moved to San Francisco.
Coming on Sunday: Grades for the pitchers, managers, and the front office! We’ll also include awards such as Team MVP and top pitcher.
Please share your thoughts on our grades! Enjoy the final games of the season this weekend and the quest for .500!