Boston Red Sox: Five Reasons to be Optimistic About Opening Week
Boston Red Sox: Week One
The Boston Red Sox wrapped up a very successful opening week on the road with a 13-0 pounding of the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday. For those keeping track this time of year, the Red Sox sit alone atop the American League East with a 4-2 record.
But it hasn’t all been good for the Sox. There’s certainly been plenty to complain about.
Rookie sensation Jackie Bradley Jr., though he’s shown great patience at the plate, is batting just .143. Cleanup hitter Mike Napoli leads the team with seven RBI, but he’s hitting just .179 and has struck out 10 times already. Alfredo Aceves has an ERA over 10, John Lackey was injured in his first start, and batters teed off on Felix Doubront to the tune of a .409 batting average. Like I said, there’s been plenty to nitpick.
For now though, let’s focus on the good stuff—and no, I’m not talking about Jose Iglesias (although his speed and defense have been stellar). Indeed, there are a lot of other good things to take away from opening week, and the list starts with the offensive explosion on Sunday that saw the Red Sox crush six home runs.
Here are my top five reasons to be optimistic about the Red Sox after week one of the MLB season…
(JM Catellier is the author of the book Fixing Baseball, a guide to restructuring the Hall of Fame. Follow him on Twitter: @FixingBaseball and Facebook, and check out his site: www.fixingbaseball.com)
5. Shane Victorino
After a horrid spring training and WBC, Shane Victorino turned the tables and has been fantastic thus far. The “Flyin’ Hawaiian” is batting .320, has two stolen bases, has been super aggressive on the basepaths, and has played spectacular defense. I don’t know if that's worth $13 million per year, but I like what I’m seeing at this point.
4. Stolen Bases
These aren’t your father’s Red Sox. This is a team that can run. In addition to Victorino’s two steals, the Sox have swiped six other bags. Jacoby Ellsbury leads the way with four, as Boston has a total of eight steals in just six games.
3. Joel Hanrahan
Closer Joel Hanrahan was another guy that struggled this spring. In 10 Grapefruit League games, the 31-year-old had an ERA of 7.56 and a WHIP of 1.920. Ouch! But the right-hander has rebounded nicely, throwing the ball in the high nineties with regularity. Hanrahan has two saves already and has been perfect in three appearances.
2. Will Middlebrooks
Third baseman Will Middlebrooks had quite the weekend in Toronto. The slugger pounded four home runs, and two of them went to the opposite field. Middlebrooks’ power is the key to the Red Sox offense. He’s batting .320 thus far and has shown no ill effects from last season’s broken wrist.
1. Jon Lester
Jon Lester had to be at the top of this list. For the first time in his career, the left-hander has won more than one game in April—and it’s only the first week. The Red Sox will rely heavily on the 29-year-old’s arm this year, and the level of success that this team can attain will depend upon whether or not Lester can return to his former dominant self. With a 2-0 record, a 1.50 ERA and just 10 hits allowed in 12 innings, Lester is well on his way.