Re: A Realistic View at 2013: Part II
posted at 6/30/2013 12:57 PM EDT
Midseason review & comparison to Spring Training predictions…
Starting Pitching… I said in the spring that this would be one of the strengths of the team and it has been. Lackey has been very solid and Doubront has been better than I expected. Dempster has been a solid workhorse, as advertised. Aceves has been more than adequate as a spot starter and Webster has shown flashes of future brilliance. But the two “aces” have been the enigmas. I said in ST that Buchholz could challenge for the Cy Young and he may yet; but his inability to stay healthy is a problem. And Lester has been the most frustrating starter, alternately showing no-hit stuff and minor-league stuff. His concentration, rather than anything physical, seems to be the problem. Overall the starters earn a B+, a huge improvement over 2012.
Bullpen…. As a group there have been more successes than failures. The two Japanese pitchers have been great but also overworked. Miller and Breslow and Wilson have all been more good than bad. But Bailey and Hanrahan have been huge disappointments as has Morales. I know injuries have been a factor, but based strictly on results the group as a whole has somewhat underperformed and could use an acquisition or two to keep the team in contention. Overall grade C+.
Offense…They lead the entire MLB in runs scored; that says it all. And unlike teams the last couple of years, they have not padded those stats with an occasional, meaningless offensive explosion; most of their runs have been meaningful and timely. The table-setters at the top of the order have been on base and scored runs and run the bases extremely well. Ortiz and Napoli have delivered runs in the middle. And the line-up is long because Salty, Iggy and to a lesser extent Drew have all delivered at the bottom of the order. Ortiz, Nava and Iggy have been the biggest surprises on the plus side while Drew and mostly Middlebrooks have been the biggest disappointments. Overall offensive grade A, what else for the highest scoring team in MLB!
Defense… I though in the spring that this would be one of the team’s greatest strengths, and it has been. But not from the players I thought would deliver. Drew has been much better than I expected at short and Nava has been a pleasant surprise at the corner outfield positions. Napoli has been occasionally shaky and Gomes is an adventure, but otherwise they have been solid. Salty takes a lot of heat on this board but I see a guy that is catching a first-place staff and that pitchers seem to like to throw to him. Overall defensive grade B+.
Bench… Much better than expected. I questioned Carp even making the team in ST and he has been great. Gomes has not hit for much of an average but he has gotten on base and delivered some of the biggest hits so far this year. Ross, before he got hurt was a perfect addition as a back-up catcher. Ciriaco failed but having Iggy back up has make him easily replaceable. Overall bench grade B-.
My predictions… I said in the spring that I thought Bradley Jr. would be a key and could challenge for the batting title, if not this season then some time down the road. I also thought Middlebrooks would have a huge year as he had a great ST. So I was way off the mark on those counts. But this team has exceeded my expectations, I said they’d win more than they lose, and they are a joy to watch. Overall team grade for the first have A-.