The American League East has been a very competitive division for decades mostly because of the heated rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees. That is still the case in 2016 except the other teams like the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays have this division even more entertaining in recent years. This season, I think the Red Sox are the best team not only in the division, but also in the American League.
The Red Sox currently have one of the most feared offenses in baseball. An offense an opposing pitcher would want to fake sick to get out of pitching to this potent group of hitters. This lineup has everything from young guns to grizzled veterans hitting on all cylinders it’s impossible to pitch to them right now any mistake will get hammered and do some real damage to a pitcher’s ERA and confidence.
However, there is one big concern for the Red Sox is the inconsistency of the pitching staff. The team ranks 22nd in baseball with a 4.37 collective ERA, which will not get the job done over an entire season. They must address the pitching staff if they want to reach their ultimate goal of a World Series championship. That being said, they are still tied atop the AL East with a record of 33-24.
The Killer B’S
The Boston Red Sox offense has been virtually unstoppable in the first two months of the season. A big reason for this hot start is the emergence of their young guns Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. they’ve gotten off to torrid starts the numbers are almost laughable baseball isn’t supposed to be this easy.
Let’s start with Mookie Betts the guy that gets it all cranked up for this offense. He is hitting .285 with 14 home runs and 45 RBIs, which is the most for any lead-off hitter. He did something yesterday there’s never been done in MLB history. He homered in the first and second innings in back-to-back games, which is absolutely insane. He has a .337 on-base percentage setting the table for the rest of his team.
Betts has become comfortable in the lead-off position and is quickly showing that he the entire package hitting for average, power, and production. The fact that he is just 23 years of age is mind-boggling to me because of his cerebral ability understanding every situation at the plate and in the field. He will continue to get better and become a perennial MVP candidate and All-Star if he keeps up this ridiculous pace!
Xander Bogaerts is another great piece of this lineup he is currently hitting a robust .345 with six home runs and 33 runs batted in. He’s a guy that pitchers hit the face because he is not a feast or famine type player he will take his base hits walks and homers when they come. He’s not trying to do too much and it’s paying off big time He currently has a 26 game hit streak, taking whatever the pitcher gives him starting rallies for this potent offense.
Furthermore, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the fact that he is one of the best young shortstops in baseball. He makes every routine play and the more than occasional flashy play that saves their pitchers from much bigger innings. He has .922 fielding percentage with just two errors.
Bogaerts like Betts is just 23 years of age and continues to evolve and soak up all there is to know about baseball. He is another guy that has quickly become a superstar and a perennial All-Star candidate for many years to come.
Jackie Bradley Jr
The last of this deadly trio is Jackie Bradley Jr, his story is not all, roses like Bogaerts and Betts he’s had trials and tribulations during his young career. Bradley Jr was drafted 40th overall 2011 draft with everyone assuming he was going to be the next big center fielder to grace the big leagues. He debuted in 2013 he always had the defense that was never an issue, but hitting came around pretty slow.
That resulted in a demotion for Bradley to figure out his swing. I think it’s the best thing that could happen to him because the reality set in and he worked very to get where he is right now. In 2016, he has put it all together, having a breakout year. He is hitting .323 with nine home runs and 38 RBIs.
Prior to 2016, he hit just .233 and looked lost and overmatched early on. This spring training, he made a couple of adjustments with his swing and hasn’t looked back. It just goes to show what perseverance and little confidence can do for a major league player.
It may have taken a little longer than he would’ve liked to succeed at the major-league level, but now that he has it looks to me the Red Sox have found their center fielder for many years to come. Bradley’s story just showed you MLB players are made in all shapes and sizes. Careers happen in many different ways that’s what makes baseball great!
A Magical Fairwell
The ageless wonder David Ortiz has been the face of the Red Sox for the better part of the decade has finally decided to hang it up. He is going out with a bang, putting up MVP type numbers, making people think he should rethink the retirement decision. He is hitting .340 with 16 home runs and 54 runs batted in these are insane numbers for any player, but especially for a 40-year-old. You would think he would lose a little bat speed, but not David Ortiz he’s like a fine wine gets better with age!
Ortiz is proving age is just a number continuing to be a fixture in Boston finishing his career in style. Ortiz is a once-in-a-lifetime player that I’m glad I have been able to witness his clutch performance and continued greatness until the very end baseball will not be the same without Big Papi, but he’s giving us one great season finishing a no doubt Hall of Fame career in my mind. The only thing missing in this storybook final season is one more championship for the city of Boston.
The Boston Red Sox are in a very good position at the beginning of June tied atop the division with the Baltimore Orioles. However, the pitching staff has been wildly inconsistent in the last couple weeks and that must change if they want to make a strong postseason run. I still believe this team is the best in the American League despite pitching struggles. The American League East will be one of the more compelling divisions down the stretch, but I believe the Red Sox will come out on top.