Obviously, JD Martinez has been one of the best free agent signings in Red Sox history. This guy was available for nothing just a few years ago when Detroit picked him up. The Red Sox did have interest, and oh boy, did they miss out on him! They made up for their mistake, though, and he’s responded with 27 HRS and an OPS (on-base plus slugging) over 1.000 through 85 games. You couldn’t ask for better!
Mookie Betts is having his breakout year in 2018. With 22 HRs and 16 SBs through just 70 games, he’s on pace for a 40-40 season. It seems his becoming a perennial 30-30 player that I always thought he could be is finally being realized.
The big two have been supplemented by three other great bats in the lineup: Mitch Moreland at first base, Xander Bogaerts at shortstop and Andrew Benintendi in left field. Moreland seemed like the safe choice for the Sox in the offseason, but I felt he was better than throwing a pile of money at Eric Hosmer. Moreland loved Boston and after a solid, underrated 2017, he’s responded to a bargain two-year contract in a big way.
A lot of people were down on Xander, but I always believed in him, and so did Alex Cora. He’s not setting the world on fire, but his power’s back. Rumored to be part of a potential trade for Giancarlo Stanton in the offseason, it turns out he’s been just as valuable to the Sox as Stanton has been to the Yankees.
Benintendi really isn’t a surprise. He’s realizing the potential most baseball fans expected from him. His speed and power combination is much like Betts. He’s what Betts is except batting and throwing from the left side.
Also, Brock Holt has reemerged as a super-utility man for the Sox. His doubles power and high on-base percentage has once again helped the Sox immensely.
Sandy Leon continues to be a really solid catcher, too, and consistently better on offense than Christian Vazquez.
On the pitching side, the bullpen has been excellent. Craig Kimbrel is back to looking like a Hall-of-Fame closer again. Matt Barnes and Hector Velasquez have been solid. Brandon Workman and Bobby Poyner have been good when they’re in there. Joe Kelly and Heath Hembree have been effective.
Chris Sale has been his usual awesome self and Rick Porcello has been a solid #2 starter. Eduardo Rodriguez has regained his previous form and is a really strong #3 starter.
Dustin Pedroia has been in a total of 3 games for the 2018 Sox. That’s not good. If they get anything out of him this season, it will be a welcome sight.
David Price is having a really mediocre 2018, although he hasn’t actually been BAD. For his contract, though, he’s continuing to be a major disappointment. Drew Pomeranz fell apart after a great 2017, although with his history of arm troubles, it’s not a huge surprise. Tyler Thornburg, the guy the Sox gave up Travis Shaw for, has been a lost cause.
Speaking of Travis Shaw, the Sox would love to have him back. That’s not to say that Rafael Devers has been terrible, but he hasn’t exactly been good. The power is there, but the plate discipline is not. He’s also well below average with the glove, which we already knew. Shaw isn’t having the monster year he did in 2017, but his glove is a lot better and his on-base skills are more consistent.
Eduardo Nunez has been horrible. That’s not the end of the world, and he can still turn things around. Jackie Bradley Jr. is hitting below .200 but his above-average glove keeps him in the lineup… so all is not lost.
Also, Sam Travis, Tzu-Wei Lin, and Blake Swihart have all been disappointments in the Major Leagues so far.
Up and Coming
Remember Mike Olt? He’s tearing it up at AAA Pawtucket! The former Texas prospect can hit. Also, long-time minor league catcher Mike Ohlman is showing his on-base and power skills. The pitching staff at Pawtucket is surprisingly good. We’ve seen a little bit of William Cuevas, but Jalen Beeks is the clear ace of that staff. Justin Haley and Chandler Shepherd look like solid arms, too. There are a few guys at AA Portland that are tearing things up, too, especially Cole Sturgeon.
Honestly, the 2018 Red Sox look like they should be winning the American League East unless the Yankees have anything to say about it. Any improvement from Price or the Sox role players would be a boost to an already very strong team. We’ll see how the 2018 regular season ends up. But it’s been a great year.