The 2016 Red Sox season is officially over. Believe it or not, it came down to the MLB’s top run producing offense simply failing to come through. The Indians are extremely underrated and they should be given a lot of credit because they came in and embarrassed the Sox. They were not getting nearly enough credit for their success this season and should not have been taken lightly. Unfortunately, the Red Sox fell under the same spell as all the media members. “Sox in 3! Sox in 3!” I bet they feel pretty stupid now. Anyway, instead of whining about how it all ended, let’s recap one last time the complete and utter mindfuck that was the 2016 Red Sox season.
Let me start off by talking about the biggest surprise of the season. No, it’s not David Price’s mediocrity. I’ll get to that. How about Hanley Ramirez? This man committed to learning first base, lost the weight he was instructed to lose, and became exactly the player I wanted him to be. He raised his batting average by 37 points, set career highs in home runs and RBI’s, and most importantly became a true team player. He wasn’t in it for himself. He was in it for the 24 other guys by his side. If you haven’t read his piece in the Players’ Tribune you need to read it. It’s powerful. It’s something that has helped me truly understand that Hanley is a changed man. Just a short year ago, Hanley was just another problem. Today, he represents everything that is right with the Boston Red Sox.
David Price’s first year in Boston can officially be labeled as a bust. A 4 ERA to go along with a plethora of big starts in which he shat the bed, has pretty much equated to the first 31 of his 217 million dollar contract going straight down the drain. What kind of value we will get from the other $186 remains to be seen. After watching him prove all the haters right with that dreadful playoff performance in Game 2, my hopes aren’t high. Prove me wrong, David.
Craig Kimbrel, our other big offseason acquisition, was the definition of a wild card. When coming into save situations, he was nearly unhittable. When coming into non-save situations, he was terrible. Plain and simple. He had dominant stretches and stretches in which he couldn’t seem to throw a strike. By the end of the season, I felt as though it was just as likely that he was going to come in and walk 4 batters as it was that he was going to strike out the side. He wasn’t the lockdown closer that we thought we were getting, but he wasn’t a disappointment to the same extent as David Price. His walks were way up from past years, so we’ll have to see if this was a fluke or the beginning of an alarming trend.
Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. both went on hit streaks of over 25 games, both started for the American League All-Star team, and both forgot how to hit at about the end of June. It was even for the same reason. Each of them became more focused on hitting for power than hitting for contact. This explains why each of them reached the 20 home run plateau for the first time while watching their averages steadily decline throughout the entire second half of the season. These 2 can now be categorized as the less favored half of the Killer B’s and will need to bounce back next year to keep up with the likes of Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi.
A couple surprises of lesser importance: Andrew Benintendi made it to the majors and showed the poise and skills of a 10 year veteran. I’m excited to see what we he can do over a full season next year. On the other end of the spectrum, Travis Shaw came out of nowhere to steal the starting third base job in spring training. Shaw stayed hot until his batting average peaked at .329 on May 17th, and hit .211 the rest of the way. Who knows what’s going to happen at 3rd base next year? Only time will tell. By the way, can anyone confirm that Rusney Castillo is still alive? People seem to forget the hype surrounding the BBC outfield coming into this year. It’s okay, I’ll take the Killer B’s any day.
Lastly, something I’ve never wanted to have to admit to myself. David Ortiz will never play another Major League Baseball game. Sure, Edwin Encarnacion could come in and replace his 30+ HR’s and 100+ RBI’s for the next couple of years; but nobody could ever replace what David Ortiz has done for the great city of Boston. He has brought us 3 World Series Championships after 86 excruciating years of not winning a single one. He has given us irreplaceable memories of clutch hit after clutch hit. More importantly, he has been a the leader for the Red Sox and the city of Boston whenever one is needed. The unforgettable speech following the marathon bombings, the speech he gave to his teammates in the visitors dugout in St.Louis during the 2013 World Series, and the amazing mentorship he has displayed for the Red Sox fresh young talent is not something that can ever be replaced. All we can do now is look back and appreciate all that he’s done for us over the years. Adios, Papi. See you in Cooperstown.