Credit: Evan Habeed/USA Today
The Red Sox season ended unexpectedly as they were swept by the Cleveland Indians in a best of five series. David Ortiz will not ride off into the sunset with a World Series trophy however he can retire knowing the future in Boston is bright. After two last place finishes the Red Sox were able to win the American League East Divison and revive baseball in Boston. Even though it was a short ride for the first time in two years the Sox were playing playoff baseball. Boston fans should expect more of that as they have a talented young nucleas in place for years to continue.
What Went Right: In 2016 the Red Sox young players including Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Junior, Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi all took steps forward in their development. Bradley finally showed that he could hit major league pitching. Betts established himself as a speed and power threat and showed that he will be an MVP candidate for years to come. Bogaerts offensive gamed improved and that power that scouts have been talking about finally showed up. Benintendi was nothing short of impressive in his rookie year showing while the Red Sox were so high on him and refused to use him in trade for a pitcher by the name of Chris Sale.
Players Who Rebounded: Rick Porcello and Hanley Ramirez came under intense criticism for their performances in 2015, their first in Boston. In 2016 they were able to reverse the script and showed why the Red Sox front office gave them large contracts . Even though Porcello was hit hard in his only postseason start he won 22 games during the regular season including an impressive 13-1 record at Fenway. Hanley showed that he still has some pop left as he hit 30 homeruns and drove in 111 runs a new career high. He also had a knack for getting the big hit down the stretch including a walkoff homer against the Yankees. Dustin Pedroia was finally healthy and reminded people that he’s still one of the best Second Baseman in the game as he finished fourth in the majors in hits with 201.
Things That Went Wrong: Throughout the season the Red Sox bullpen was inconsistent. Craig Kimbrel struggled in non save situations and Junichi Tazawa was horrible most likely ending his career in Boston. Matt Barnes started out well however his struggles late in the season caused Farrell to lose faith in using him in high leverage situations. As a whole this unit was very good at times but also horrendous as they coughed up many late leads in the season before looking dominant in the final month. David Price was also unable to change his postseason narrative as in his only start against the Indians he didn’t pitch like ace and put the Sox in an early hole.
Analysis: Even without Ortiz this team has enough Offense to contend for years to come. The key for 2017 will be improving the bullpen and acquiring a veteran starter with a proven postseason resume.