2017 Fantasy Recap: Boston Red Sox
Just over a week past the end of the regular season, and only hours after being dismissed from the first round of the American League playoffs, the Boston Red Sox relieved manager John Farrell of his duties.
When a team with a payroll nearing $200 million wins 93 games and a division title in back-to-back years only to upchuck on itself in the postseason, change often comes. The manager is the easiest fall guy. But pinning it all on Farrell and pretending things will be different with another manager is as shortsighted as it is foolish. The problem runs much deeper than that. It goes to the overall makeup of a team that often seemed to be joylessly slogging back to the top of the American League East.
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia was one of the biggest sources of disappointment on the season. While he never doubted he would be back for the postseason, despite recent limited play and two trips to the disabled list due to his left knee, he failed to lead the team both inside and outside the clubhouse in a way you’d expect a 34-year old veteran to do. His .293/.369/.392 slash line in the 105 games he played this year were all below what he did last year, and his 62 runs batted in were the third lowest total of his career.
One season removed from winning the American League Cy Young award, right-hander Rick Porcello didn’t follow up his sterling season with another spotless one. He posted a 5.93 ERA and 1.50 WHIP over his last five starts; over said games he threw 27.1 innings and put together a bleak 21:10 K:BB. His 17 losses and 125 runs surrendered this year were both career highs, and his 4.65 ERA was the second highest mark of his career.
Porcello was supposed to enjoy even better numbers this year, considering he wouldn’t have the responsibilities of being the Red Sox’ ace pitcher. That role was supposed to go to superstar Chris Sale, whom Boston brought in via an offseason trade. Sale was very impressive in his first year with the Red Sox, as the 28-year-old compiled a 2.90 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 308 strikeouts in 214.1 innings during the regular season. But he showed signs of fatigue in the second half of the year, as evidenced by his 4.38 and 3.72 ERA’s over the last two months of the year, and the nine earned runs he allowed in the ALDS.
However, the future of the Red Sox clearly belongs to its two young stars: right fielder Mookie Betts and shortstop Xander Boagerts. While Betts’ power hitting numbers (24 home runs and 102 RBI) were both a step down from 2016, he still led the team in both categories, as well as in the total number of hits he had (166). Bogaerts put on a show at the plate to end the season; over the last seven games, he hit .379/.419/.552 with five RBI. His .273 batting average at the end of the regular season led the team.