Well, the Red Sox are currently half a game behind the New York Yankees for first place in the American League East. The season is about one-fourth over so it’s time to give a report card on my predictions from earlier in the year and how the Red Sox are doing.
My predictions were way off for the most part in the American League. This is why I love baseball. You can look all the statistics and projections. You can pour over all the data. And it won’t make a difference until the teams hit the field. I had Tampa Bay winning the AL East and currently they are fourth. The Red Sox are second and I had them losing the division. Detroit is doing very well in the AL Central but aren’t winning the division yet, which I had predicted. The team I thought would struggle in their division, the Texas Rangers for the AL West, have flourished and are leading the division while the rest of the division struggles. That was bad. My award predictions for the American League aren’t going at all well. Wil Myers who I had picked for my American League Rookie of the Year has been stuck in Triple A. Mike Trout has actually performed very well. He’s not the MVP yet and he needs to do a lot better if he should win. But his team, the Los Angeles Angels, has been downright awful. Once the Angels heat up-assuming they heat up-Trout’s numbers will rise. As for the Cy Young, I predicted that Justin Verlander would win, but he hasn’t been totally lights out.
My National League predictions were a lot better. Three of the teams I had making the playoffs are succeeding. The other three teams are still very deep into the hunt. The Atlanta Braves are winning the division currently, which is better than I had expected. I thought that they would be a Wild Card team at best. The defending World Series Champions, the San Francisco Giants are in the hunt for a Wild Card sport. I was correct in my belief that I had the St. Louis Cardinals winning their division and the Cincinnati Reds claiming a Wild Card spot. I was wrong when I predicted Matt Kemp would win the MVP for the National League. The Dodgers offense has struggled this year and they are in last place. Kemp is hitting just .265 with one home run. Oops. On the other hand, I thought Clayton Kershaw would win the NL Cy Young and I pleased to say that this prediction may very well come true. Kershaw is 4-2 with a 1.40 ERA. It’s not a done deal, but Kershaw will remain in the hunt, provided he stays healthy and his team can get him some run support.
Now to the Red Sox grades,
Jacoby Ellsbury-D+; I honestly think Jacoby Ellsbury is the second carnation of Brady Anderson, only more disappointing. I expect Jacoby to be gone after this season and I won’t miss his inconsistency at all. Ellsbury is hitting .240 with one home run. These numbers are inexcusable for somebody with his talent. It appears his 30 homer season from 2011 is all but a distant memory for the fans and the player himself.
Shane Victorino-B; Victorino has done exactly what I wanted him to do. He hits, gets on base and scores runs. He doesn’t have a very loud bat but I’ll take his .280 average any day of the week.
Dustin Pedroia-B+; I wish Pedroia had a couple more home runs but that’s because I know that the stupid fans who vote for the All Star game only focus on the home run numbers rather than who actually deserve it. Pedroia’s been on a terror this year, hitting over .340 with over twenty runs batted in. June is usually Pedroia’s month so I expect him to heat up even more over the coming weeks. He has also played stellar defense.
David Ortiz-A+; Ortiz has been producing since he came off the DL with a fire. He has .364 average and has six home runs. I have been shocked by how well Ortiz has performed. He’s been one of the most consistent hitters this far and I would not be surprised at all to see Ortiz at this year’s All Star Game.
Mike Napoli-A-; Napoli would get a solid A if he wasn’t such a streaky player. But he was the best offensive player for the Red Sox during the month of April and as such he deserves the grade. Napoli is only hitting about .260, but he has made it count when he needs to. He hits in a ton of guys home and carried the team when Ortiz was injured
Will Middlebrooks-C-; Middlebrooks’ has struggled offensively. While he has hit for a lot of power, he has struggled to make consistent contact. He’ll bounce back though and I still believe he’ll finish with 30 home runs.
Daniel Nava B; Great job for Daniel Nava. Great guy. Great story. Kid had no chance for years and now is a key member to the Red Sox’s success. You can’t write a better story for this kid.
Other members of the Red Sox including Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Johnny Gomes have also proved to be effective members of the club.
Starting pitching: A-; I can’t believe how good this starting pitching has been overall. Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester have regained their ace-like abilities and are the most dangerous 1-2 punch in baseball right now. John Lackey has come out of nowhere posting a decent 3.31 ERA, incredible for a pitcher that was the worst in baseball during 2011 and injured during 2012. Felix Doubront has not impressed me but he never really has. Ryan Dempster proves to be a very solid number three starting pitcher.
Bullpen: B-; Some of the bullpen has been spectacular, others have not. Losing Joel Hanrahan for the year hurts the bullpen because Hanrahan has the talent to succeed if he’s healthy. The rest of the bullpen has picked up most of the slack and proves to be a solid addition to the team.
The Sox are doing great overall. Let’s hope that they keep this up.