ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — When spring training started in February, we all looked at the Red Sox roster and tried to imagine how the season would play out.
Who would perform up to expectations? Who would fall short? Who would surprise?
With 14 games left to play, it's fair to say we have a pretty good idea of what happened. Here's a brief breakdown of who fits in what category:
Overachievers: Matt Albers, Scott Atchison, Mike Aviles, Craig Breslow, Felix Doubront, Mauro Gomez, Rich Hill, Andrew Miller, Franklin Morales, Vicente Padilla, Cody Ross, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Kelly Shoppach.
Note: These players gave the Sox more than what was expected. You can quibble with Salty based on all the strikeouts. But the 41 extra-base hits are impressive and he made decent strides as a catcher in the post-Varitek era. The biggest problem with this list is that most of these guys are role players or relievers. Only Salty, Aviles. Ross and Doubront had prominent roles.
Surprise contributors: Marlon Byrd, Pedro Ciriaco, Will Middlebrooks, Clayton Mortensen Daniel Nava, Scott Podsednik, Junichi Tazawa.
Note: These are guys who either weren't in spring training or didn't make a big dent there and proved to be valuable to varying degrees. Middlebrooks looked like a star in the making before he broke his hand.
Underachieving pitchers: Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Bailey, Daniel Bard, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Aaron Cook, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Mark Melancon.
Note: Wow, that's a long list. Bailey is here because of injury. Everybody else clearly played their way there. Buchholz can't get a pass with a 4.33 ERA. That's 1.63 runs higher than the previous two seasons.
Underachieving position players: Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Gonzalez, Darnell McDonald, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Nick Punto, Ryan Sweeney, Kevin Youkilis.
Note: Lots of big names here, too. Crawford, Ellsbury and Ortiz were sidetracked by injuries and gave the Red Sox less than what was hoped for. Pedroia's .807 OPS is the lowest of his career.
Incomplete: Ryan Kalish, Ryan Lavarnway, James Loney.
Note: It's hard to get a gauge on these guys because of injuries, limited playing time or circumstance. Poor Loney, he was the last passenger on the Titanic.
In the end, the Red Sox got less than what they expected from Aceves, Bailey, Bard, Beckett, Buchholz, Crawford, Ellsbury, Gonzalez, Lester, Matsuzaka, Melancon, Ortiz, Pedroia and Youkilis.
Those were 14 pretty important names on the roster when spring training started. Beckett, Crawford, Gonzalez and Youkilis all got traded and people celebrated when they did. Bard spent more time in the minors than the majors and Ellsbury and Ortiz were on the DL for (so far) 135 games.
To what degree Bobby Valentine's managing style affected this is open to interpretation. But when so many key players underachieved at the same time because of injuries or simply stinking it up, the Red Sox were doomed regardless of who the manager was.
If your lists are different, feel free to explain in the comments section.