The Daunting Overshadowing of the 2019 Red Sox

The Red Sox sit 11.0 games back of the AL East-leading Yankees, in early July. A constant trend of .500 baseball that has overshadowed the efforts of several notable members keeping 2019 hopes alive.

There hasn’t been anything fun about the 2019 Boston Red Sox season. That goes without saying. Over a dozen blown saves in early July and the bullpen crew have cemented themselves as the biggest internal disease since chicken and beer. However, that’s been the story. The one and the only story capturing everyone’s attention this season.

Point blank the 2019 Boston Red Sox are purely and undoubtedly unwatchable. They have been since the season started and it appears as though the complacency of Dave Dombrowski is perfectly fine with playing the expired “World Series Hangover” card. We’re months past the World Series ring ceremony and it isn’t the Fenway 100 Year celebration where we let an underperforming season get a pass while we celebrate teams that did the job years ago. To make matters worse, Dave Dombrowski issued a statement where he someone dug out to audacity to place blame on the Red Sox starting pitching staff. Dombrowski stated “I can’t say they’ve really carried us at any point” when referring to the starters. However how about the bullpen that’s already blown 18 saves this season. A bullpen who’s only lefty carries a 4.91 ERA (Josh Taylor). It’s embarrassing and unacceptable.

Now I’m not some highly crazed, delusional fan who can’t be happy unless my team wins championships. With that being said, I’m also not some complacent pink hat who rides the “everything is awesome” train all year long when my team watches their rival absolutely humiliate them from London. I’m in the middle like most authentic sports fans. I’m sorry. Sorry that I’m simply incapable of shining light on a two-game series from the UK where my beloved team allowed 29 runs in just two nights against our most hated division rival who sits in first place. Yeah, I’m not a fan of that.

Thanks to our putrid, sorry excuse of a pro-baseball bullpen, I and the vast majority of baseball fans (Red Sox specifically) haven’t been able to truly appreciate the seasons of those who are keeping this season from completely falling off a cliff.

Rafael Devers

  • 85 games: .331/.385/.561, 16 HRs, 61 RBIs, 25 doubles (career-high)
April 11, 2019 (Rafael Devers earns Red Sox their first walk-off win of 2019)

It’s a crime that we’re heading into the 2019 MLB All-Star Game without Boston’s best hitter getting the recognition he deserves in a breakout year!

Devers, 22, is the best hitting third baseman in all of baseball with a .331 batting average after Friday night. That puts him fifth among all hitters in baseball for 2019. Devers is also third in slugging (.561), third in runs batted in (61), fourth in OPS (.946), and first in runs (68). In other words, the Red Sox would’ve fallen apart weeks ago, crumbling in the standings completely if it wasn’t for Rafael Devers.

Since it’s pre-All-Star Game break, all of what Devers has done thus far will fall under the first half of his 2019 season. Let’s compare it to 2018’s first half in which Devers hit .241 with 14 home runs and 48 runs batted in. Rafael Devers has racked up 29 base hits more in the first half of 2019, then he did in the first seasons half of 2018. The direct reasoning for Devers hitting nearly 100 points higher in his batting average as well. Talk about grow from a 22-year-old huh?

The free-swinging lefty who’s notorious for countering the shift by taking the ball opposite field has found his stride in 2019. In a lineup featuring J.D Martinez, Mookie Betts, and even Andrew Benintendi- it’s Rafael Devers who’s proven to be Boston’s most valuable bat throughout the first 54.32% of the season.

Devers has also been incredibly clutch. He’s batting .275 with a home-run, triple, two doubles, and 19 runs batted in, with two outs and runners in scoring position. Not to mention the fact that 12 of Devers’ 15 home runs were hit on the road. In ballparks that aren’t Fenway Park, Devers is hitting .341 which is 20 points higher than his home batting average. With 33-of-59 RBI’s coming from the road, Rafael Devers has driven over 55% of his RBI’s in from away ballparks as well.

Perhaps the biggest victim of fan voting in Major League Baseball.

Christian Vazquez

  • 72 games: .298/.333/.510, 13 HRs, 37 RBIs
June 21, 2019 (Christian Vazquez opposite-field, walk-off HR against Blue Jays.

We can’t talk about breakout seasons in 2019 without bringing up the phenomenal leap from Christian Vazquez at the plate.

On April 16, the Boston Red Sox issued the release of co-catcher Blake Swihart, making Vazquez the clearcut winner of the starting job for the defending World Series champs. A move that left mixed emotions among Red Sox nation.

Nevertheless, we’re in July, and the move has proven to be 100 percent on point. It’s amazing the year we’ve been witnessing from Christian Vazquez in his year five season.

Through the first four seasons of Vazquez’ career, he only batted above .250 once, and his career-high in home runs was just five. However, it’s early July and we’re now talking about a guy who leads the American League in wins above replacement with 2.5 and is tied for fifth for the most home runs among all catchers in baseball with 13. That’s a fairly overwhelming leap, to say the least. Especially coming from a guy that many fans were set to write off due to his early career struggles at the plate.

Another impressive trait from a newly defined Christian Vazquez bat is his blossomed ability to take the ball in all areas of the field. Vazquez has shown a notable source of opposite-field power that we haven’t seen in his first four previous seasons in Boston since being called up.

Last season, Christian Vazquez played platoon with former Red Sox Blake Swihart and Sandy Leon. In 2018, Vazquez played in 38 home games in which he batted .223 with two home runs and eight runs batted in. Compare that to his thus far 37 games at Fenway Park in which he’s batted .320 with six home runs and 19 runs batted in. That transformation is insane.

Of course, Vazquez has been the typical Christian Vazquez we’re accustomed to watching behind the plate. That’s never been the issue. Vazquez sits fourth among American League catchers with 13 runners caught stealing and holds a .998 field percentage through the seasons first 88 games. One in which he’s played in 72 games.

Speaking of defense, we can’t forget to acknowledge the fact that Vazquez has also shown newly found versatility this year, playing a game at first base and two at third/ second base. Endless defensive possibilities. What’s there not to love about 2019 Christian Vazquez?

Another American League All-Star candidate that didn’t get the recognition deserved for his phenomenal first half of the season.

Xander Bogaerts

  • 85 games: .295/.385/.535, 17 HRs, 63 RBIs, 28 doubles
July 5, 2019 (Xander Bogaerts provides Red Sox with late game insurance via his 17th HR)

Certainly the most frustrated of much deserved All-Star candidates, seventh-year shortstop Xander Bogaerts. “I can’t vote for myself. It is what it is”, Bogaerts stated during a post-game interview.

Just a few days ago Major League Baseball named Bogaerts to the American League’s roster as an injury replacement. A much long an overdue announcement that shouldn’t have come as a result of an injury.

Xander Bogaerts is first among American League shortstops with 63 runs batted in, doubles (28), slugging percentage (.535), second in home runs (17), and fifth in batting average (.295).

To put that type of a season together in the first-half and find yourself ranked fifth in votes for shortstops in the American League is ridiculous. It’s a pure example of fan voting being a failure and false indicator of who rightfully so deserves to be named an All-Star.

Now partially the blame of this sits on the shoulders of both the Red Sox and fans. With the team remaining complacently in a third-place spot in the division for an extensive period of time, and the bullpen blowing 18 leads already, the team has been unwatchable. On-field, success plays a major factor when promoting All-Stars comes around in late May.

There’s no question about it, that if the Boston Red Sox currently sat in first place of the American League East, the All-Stat voting numbers would be significantly higher. We’d see Bogaerts, Vazquez, Devers, and probably even Michael Chavis find his way on the roster. While it’s up to the fans to get out and vote, it’s up to the Red Sox to give them a reason to engage themselves in a team that’s revealed no sense of urgency to better the staff that’s been weighing this team down on a night-to-night basis.

What’s it gonna be Dombrowski? Gonna throw the starting staff under the bus, inevitably covering up for what you failed to do as General Manager of the Detroit Tigers? Or are you gonna take the bird-box blindfold off and make some calls for the sake of 2019?

It’s 100 percent up to you.

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