The Boston Red Sox had an awful 2019 with expectations of going deep into the playoffs, but there were a few players that proved their mettle.
After each season there is a litany of memorable (and forgettable) moments that stand out. They may be individual games and some resonate through the decades. They could be an individual performance such as a multiple home run game or an exceptional pitching performance. Pedro Martinez has several that are still remembered and continuously beaten to death on Red Sox replays.
Then there is the wire to wire accomplishments by the team or by individual players. I have still never seen such a complete all-round performance as that of Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. And the team? The 2018 season was one for the history books with total wins and a march to a World Series championship.
The 2019 season is unfortunate as the team disappointed after three straight division titles. Players expected to be key ingredients to another successful run fell by the wayside with either injuries or a negative performance bump. Still, there are certain selections that I have and here are a few of the positives.
The opportunity of free agency is a risky venture for team and player. A difficult season can be translated into bundles of potential riches flushed away as in the cases of Drew Pomeranz and now Rick Porcello, but then the sudden surprise of signings.
Did Xander Bogaerts take the proverbial hometown discount? Based on his performance the last two seasons the Red Sox got a bargain as long as Bogaerts does not go the Dustin Pedroia route. The contract has the usually opt-out provisions but based on Bogaerts’s position and performance I was surprised or shocked the Red Sox got such a deal.
The same applies to Chris Sale when he received a five-year and $145 million extension. The money is closer to the going rate for a pitcher classified as an “Ace” and certainly was a risk-based on 2018 and now with hindsight 2019. I had expected Sale to test the market and maybe now wish he had, but the Red Sox made a commitment to both and even ventured into negotiations with Mookie Betts.
The most notable is Rafael Devers who many had consigned to Pawtucket in April. Then the bat and even the glove matured and Devers may represent the left-hand power of the future for Boston.
The right-hand compliment is Bogaerts who has now become just what was expect back in 2013 with his ability as a high-end run producer. XB is also quietly becoming a team leader and appears rather comfortable in that role.
Red Sox pitching is also as barren on the farm system as a popsicle in the Sahara, but a few potential gems have surfaced. Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor – both lefties – have demonstrated enough promise and production to be considered integral parts of the bullpen for 2020. The Red Sox may be tempted to shift Hernandez back to his rotation role.
Brandon Workman is a veteran but now has assumed the closer role for Boston. Workman has a devastating curve that couples with a low 90s heater that makes his “stuff” keep the bats off-kilter. Workman – now 30-year-old – is no kid, but finally rewarded Red Sox patience.
Is Michael Chavis the real deal? The hot start has cooled off but the thunder in the bat is difficult to ignore. Chavis did surprisingly well at second base and first base. With Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce expected to depart and Pedroia, a question mark Chavis will be somewhere in the lineup.
I have long wished for a catcher to combine pop with defense and that had been achieved in 2017 when Christian Vazquez hit .290. Then Vaz failed the sniff test in 2018. Now that promise has resurfaced in 2019 with power, excellent defense, and a nice team-friendly contract. Maybe 2018 was an anomaly?
Eduardo Rodriguez has a left arm that holds magic but often exploded with a bad inning coupled with multiple walks. In 2018 Rodriguez was good and in 2019 that became very good as E-Rod could be classified as the ace of the staff.
Perseverance is occasionally rewarded and that is righty Marcus Walden who became a pleasant surprise after a brief eight-game appearance in 2018. Can Walden duplicate his 2019 in 2020? If so the bullpen will have a significant plus.