It’s time to review the report cards for each Red Sox position group. This time, we’ll take a look at the corner infielders.
As always, it’s fun to look at the season in review – especially when it ended in a World Series title for the Boston Red Sox. We’ll dive into each position group and provide individual grades for each player that appeared at that given position.
A former top Red Sox prospect had high aspirations heading into the season. It was possible that Travis would earn a big league spot out of Spring Training, but a lack of offensive output shot down that opportunity. Sam’s downward spiral as a prospect began when he tore his ACL in 2016. At that point, it appeared that Travis had a chance to compete for Major League playing time, but a major injury derailed that chance. This past season, the Indiana product posted a .222 / 1 HR / 7 RBI line which is to be expected out of a platoon player.
The concerning aspect in his development is the complete lack of power. He was scouted as a prospect with a very solid hit tool, but the power has not developed whatsoever. As a corner infielder, there’s a definite need for a modest power output (at least 15+ homeruns). However, Travis is a solid hitter that flashes gap-to-gap power and excels against LHP with a career .298 average. For now, the one career homerun is going to be an issue.
Alex Cora and the Red Sox have been introducing him in the outfield as a result of the lack of power, but it’s clear that he’s stuck in a platoon role for another season.
Despite being a major story line throughout the season, the release of Hanley Ramirez is largely an afterthought after winning the World Series. The veteran presence compiled a .254 / 6 HR / 29 RBI line during his time with the Red Sox in 2018, but was largely a source of inconsistency.
The Sox loved Hanley’s personality, but the inconsistency ultimately led to his release. It was announced that the veteran DH will be looking for work next season. He won’t be playing in Boston, but all of Red Sox Nation wishes Hanley well with his next club…as long as he’s not a Yankee.
The typical Sophomore slump certainly applied to Raffy’s 2018 campaign. After setting the world on fire in his debut season, Devers certainly struggled to get consistent production at the plate – and in the field. Offensively, he concluded with a line of .240 / 21 HR / 66 RBI’s. The numbers are solid, but Alex Cora and Tim Hyers will need their young budding star to put together consistent at bats. He has a tendency to get over-aggressive, but he could stand to learn the art of patience from fellow slugger, J.D. Martinez.
In the field, Devers improved upon his putrid .906 fielding percentage in 2017 to a .926 this past season. Additionally, he finished second in all of baseball in errors with 24. The encouraging sign in the field came in October. For the majority of the season, analysts concluded that Raffy’s below average defense would cost the Red Sox when it mattered most. Rather, he posted a clean fielding percentage with zero errors and a couple of flash plays.
The defensive improvement is what the Red Sox needed to see out of their 22 year old third baseman. His footwork was a drastic improvement and management can only hope that it continues into next season. Devers has legitimate potential to be a 30+ homerun guy, but it will start with putting together consistent approaches at the plate.
It was a welcomed sight to see the Red Sox bring back their first baseman on a 2 year / $13 million deal. The left handed option showed enough in 2017 to warrant another season as a platoon option with Hanley, but was relegated to full time duty when he was DFA’d. At the plate, Moreland put together a solid season with a line of .245 / 15 HR’s / 68 RBI’s. He continued the career trend of being a relatively streaky hitter, but had huge moments at the plate when the Sox needed his bat the most.
In the field, Moreland was rock solid as always. The Gold Glove winner didn’t collect another crown this season, but did finish with a stellar .998 fielding percentage. His steady glove will allow him to find time in the Red Sox lineup, regardless of what his batting average may be.
Moreland is a perfect picture of what the Red Sox are looking for in their clubhouse. The veteran handled every role thrown his way and performed when Alex Cora called his number. Offensively, the numbers could have been a tad better, but overall it was another steady season for the Sox first baseman.
There honestly aren’t enough good things to say about Steve Pearce. As an under-the-radar acquisition before the Trade Deadline, the AL East journeyman was a spark plug for the Red Sox as soon as he arrived. In his first at-bat, he launched a double off the wall at Yankee Stadium – a sign of what was to come against the hated rivals. In a Sox uniform, he hit .271, launched 7 homeruns, and drove in 26 RBI’s. The more important aspect was the continual production in big moments. Pearce terrorized the Yankees throughout the season and powered the Red Sox to a World Series title.
In a fairy-tale ending, the Red Sox first baseman was named the World Series MVP and has already re-signed a one year deal to stay in Boston next season. Dave Dombrowski had the steal of the season in trading for Pearce and he will forever have a place in the hearts of Red Sox fans everywhere.
Let’s just take a minute to enjoy the work of @WayneTwentyOcho.
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) November 16, 2018