Expectations for the Boston Red Sox coming into the year were high; 100 wins? 1,000 runs scored? The Red Sox started out the season 2-10. Oh no! The world is ending! Cut to June-August, when Boston spent the majority of the time in first place; yay! Best team ever! Then came the 7-20 September, as the Sox plummeted out of the AL East lead and then, finally, out of the playoffs together on the season’s final day.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Boston won 90 games. (At least) one of their players put up MVP caliber seasons; new addition Adrian Gonzalez starting out slowly but still managing to hit .338/.410/.548 (though with his fewest homers since 2006), Dustin Pedroia had the best season of his career (.307/.387/.474 with stellar glovework), and Jacoby Ellsbury came almost out of nowhere to put up perhaps the top 2011 for any player in the majors (.321/.376/.552). David Ortiz showed that he still has a little something left in the tank (.309/.398/.554). Marco Scutaro and Jarrod Saltalamacchia each provided above average production at their repective positions. Josh Beckett had a nice bounceback season after a rough 2010. And the back end of the bullpen with Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon was quite good.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Boston won 90 games but still was on the outside looking in as the playoffs started. Free agent acquisition Carl Crawford was bad enough this season that his contract already doesn’t look so good. He picked things up a bit after a slow start, but managed to make it to just .255/.289/.405 overall (and the defensive metrics – which usually love him – were less kind). JD Drew missed half the seasons and didn’t hit much when he played (.222/.315/.320). Clay Buchholz only pitched 82.2 innings and his ERA rose over a run to 3.48. Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched only 37.1 innings and had a 5.30 ERA. John Lackey pitched a fair bat (unfortunately, one could say) but had – by far – the highest ERA in the majors (min. 150 IP) at 6.41. Jon Lester had the worst full season of his career as well, though with a 3.47 ERA he wasn’t exactly killing the team.
Ellsbury hit 20 career home runs in over 1,500 plate appearances in the majors coming into the season. The 32 he hit in 2011 certainly seemed to come out of nowhere. On the list of players who would lead the team in longballs if one had to pick before the season, how far down would Ellsbury have been? 6th? 7th? Top 10 even? We’ll see if he can repeat even half of his ’11 performance again.
Given the seven year, $142 M contract, Carl Crawford’s struggles were a huge disappointment. Likewise with Lackey’s 5/$82.5 M deal. And Dice-K. Really, the pitching staff as a whole. Not making the playoffs given (1) the pre-season hype and (2) what looked like almost a sure thing late in the year definitely resulted in some frowny faces in Boston.
Right-field will be open with Drew’s departure; Josh Reddick might be the one getting a more prominent role there. David Ortiz leaving would also mean the DH spot won’t be officially occupied. Jonathan Papelbon might be moving on as well, depending on if Boston is willing to pony up the funds to keep him.
Depending on if the Sox bring in new players or not, there could be players fighting it out for a couple position player jobs as well as a few pitching staff spots. There are quality players set up all over the diamond already though.