Welcome to this week’s edition of Read Sox. Today, we’ll look at the ascendance of Xander Bogaerts, the Razorback the Red Sox took seventh overall in the MLB Draft and just how insane the American League has been as a whole.
Joon Lee at Over The Monster is asking the tough questions, with none more difficult to answer than this: is Xander Bogaerts a 2015 American League All-Star? After his play of late, he’s certainly earned some consideration over Alcides Escobar, the leader in ballot votes at shortstop. As of Tuesday morning, Bogaerts ranks highly in these notable categories:
- Leads all AL shortstops in batting average (.297) and OBP (.343).
- Second only to Oakland’s Marcus Semien in OPS by a measly eight points at .744.
- Third in ISO (.104) to Brad Miller and Semien.
If you’re still not convinced, Lee goes over how defensive improvements have made Bogaerts so much better than he was last year. Take last night’s game, for example. He’s not just making the smart plays, he’s making the ones that require some athleticism, too. There’s some real growth there, and it might be enough to get him a coveted spot on that American League roster in Cincinnati.
It doesn’t really seem like he’s been here for this long, but Junichi Tazawa has been on the Red Sox since 2009. Of all the players currently on the roster, he’s the the fourth-longest tenured, coming in behind Dustin Ortiz, David Pedroia and Clay Buchholz. As Pete Abraham writes, it’s been a long, tough road for Tazawa to get where he is today as one of the better set-up men in the league. Tazawa owns a 1.40 ERA, good for 16th in the majors, and that places him ahead of guys like Glen Perkins, Joakim Soria and Kelvin Herrera. He strikes out a batter per inning, on average. He rarely walks anyone, as he now has only five walks in 25.2 innings this year, and the last time he broke the 20 BB threshold was his first season at Double-A Portland in 2009.
Not too bad of a career for a guy whose first MLB appearance ended in a walk-off homer off the bat of Alex Rodriguez.
With their first pick in the 2015 MLB First-Year Player Draft, the Red Sox took Andrew Benintendi, an outfielder from the University of Arkansas, as the seventh overall pick. Fangraphs’ Carson Cistulli projects him as one of the top, if not the best, hitter to come out of the SEC. Benintendi is just a sophomore, isn’t even 21 years old yet, and he told Tim Britton that he grew up looking to Dustin Pedroia as a role model. Man, now I feel old.
“Now this is a story all about how // The AL got flipped-turned upside down” Jeff Sullivan at Just A Bit Outside can’t contain his incredulousness at how every team in the American League has a chance at the postseason. Teams projected to be bad (see: Astros, Twins) are now pacing their divisions. Teams projected to be good (see: Mariners, Red Sox) find themselves treading water and dealing with multitudes of ineptitude. This has been yet another lesson in how You Can’t Predict Baseball.
An overwhelming majority of fans wanted Justin Masterson to disappear after his dismal performances, and for a while, he did. However, it was only a quick getaway to the disabled list, and now that he’s churning through rehab starts, he’ll soon be ready to rejoin the major league squad. What role will he take? Christopher Smith tries to explore that question, but his role seems obvious. The rotation looks to be rounding into form with its current members, so that just leaves the bullpen. Will his 87 MPH fastball finally speed up there? If he hopes to stay on the Red Sox, it had better gain a few ticks.
It doesn’t take advanced metrics to see that Hanley Ramirez has been a butcher in left field. Nevertheless, the former infielder doesn’t ever see himself returning to the infield. Rob Bradford talks about how Ramirez now sees himself as an outfielder. Ramirez does mention that being the outfield has kept him relatively healthier, wall collisions notwithstanding. He’s grateful that he gets to stand upright for the majority of the game, instead of staying down on the dirt the whole time.
Three Good Game Stories
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Red Sox can’t score despite their starter – this time being Eduardo Rodriguez – hurling a gem. Scott Lauber recaps their latest eye-gouger of a game.
At the beginning of the bottom of the 8th inning on Sunday, the Red Sox had a four percent chance of winning the game. Then Rusney Castillo hit a home run, and the Red Sox just poured it on from there. Seven runs and a win later, Jimmy Toscano talks about how the Sox looked alive in a sweep of the Athletics.
I’ve been in the front seat of the Joe-Kelly-would-be-a-amazing-reliever bandwagon, but neither I nor Ricky Doyle of NESN could find a bad thing to say after Kelly’s solid start in Saturday’s game. As Doyle writes, Kelly might’ve locked himself into a rotation spot with that last start.
Photo by Brad Rempel/USA Today Sports Images