Red Sox Are Building Hope For The Future While Rolling Toward October
As Hanley Ramirez stepped up to the plate Thursday night, it felt like 2004 again:
The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees involved in a four-way battle for the pennant. Crucial games being played in mid-September. Tensions rising. Passion building.
Then Ramirez went Yabbo. Hasta la vista. Yardo. Good bye. Game winning walk off home run to beat the Yankees at Fenway. Did you feel it? It was the most romantic feeling on earth and it’s going to continue.
As I wrote in April, these Red Sox are for real. They are mixing an explosive offense with elite top-of-the-rotation performance. Nobody in that lineup is safe and their starters are racking up impressive numbers in the second half. Sure, they have their bullpen woes and their frequent inconsistencies, but as a whole, these Red Sox believe they can be the best in the business.
Part of the reason they believe so is because they are building for the future while succeeding in the present. In 2016, the Red Sox have solidified that their solid young core is here to stay and here to produce.
Mookie Betts is on his way to winning the AL MVP. Xander Bogaerts has improved leaps and bounds defensively over the past two seasons. Jackie Bradley Jr. has easily become the best defensive center fielder in the American League. Eduardo Rodriguez, despite early struggles, has shown that he still possesses frontline stuff in the rotation. Additionally, the Red Sox have some of the best rookies in the game between Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada.
Because of these young dynamic players, there’s no question that the Red Sox have an incredibly bright future.
I’d argue that the young core has been the difference so far this season – Betts and Bogaerts in particular. But there’s also no question that the Red Sox success so far in 2016 can be equally attributed to veterans and journeyman alike.
David Ortiz has struck the fountain of youth thus far in this season, hitting .320 with 34 home runs, 115 runs batted in, 155 hits, and league-leading 82 extra-base hits. In his last seven games, Hanley Ramirez has 9 RBI and 4 home runs, including the aforementioned game-winner on Thursday night. Hanley is also second in the AL in RBI (54) Since July 15. Sandy Leon, although slumping lately, is still batting.358 in 68 games this season.
Probably the most notable veteran making an impact in the second half is Dustin Pedroia. Since the All-Star Break, Pedroia leads the American league in hits (83) and batting average (.371). Most of this can be attributed to his move to the leadoff position, where he his thriving.
Rick Porcello is also thriving this season. At 20-4, he’s positioning himself to be a serious Cy Young candidate. On Wednesday night, he gave up three hits and still lost his first game at home to the Baltimore Orioles. Nobody expected Porcello to be this good, let alone go nearly the full season without a home loss. Likewise, David Price has been dynamite lately, winning seven consecutive starts.
It’s the combination of these veterans and the young core that has catapulted the Red Sox into serious contention. And better yet, it has set them up to have success even further on into the future.
Here comes the fun part.