Red Sox power rankings: Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts stepping up as others struggle

Xander Bogaerts (right) and teammate Mookie Betts (left) have been giving Red Sox fans plenty to smile about.
Xander Bogaerts (right) and teammate Mookie Betts (left) have been giving Red Sox fans plenty to smile about. –Jim Davis / The Boston Globe

COMMENTARY

It’s time we admitted a stark truth about this year’s Red Sox team. Much like the Yankees of the mid-aughts, the 2016 Red Sox roster is stacked one through 10. After that? Not so much. And with injuries suddenly piling up and Clay Buchholz still on the roster for some reason, the bottom is starting to drag the team down. In what was a 3-4 week, that bottom of the roster was exposed. It’s become an open question just how far the team’s good players can carry it. The team has already missed out on adding James Shields. Hopefully, they won’t continue to be hesitant to make upgrades.

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29. Carson Smith (25): He’s out for the season, so the team will eventually put him on the 60-day disabled list, but they haven’t done so yet.

28. Ryan Hanigan (Previous: 26): Now he’s not only totally useless on the field, but he’s also hurt. The Red Sox should show him the door as soon as he’s healthy, but I won’t hold my breath.

27. Sandy Leon (Not Ranked): He’s basically as useless as Hanigan. But, hey, at least he’s healthy.

26. Clay Buchholz (28): Enough apparently isn’t enough for the Red Sox front office, who seem hell-bent on talking themselves back into Buchholz. In case you’re curious, Buchholz has walked one more batter than he’s struck out since being moved to the bullpen.

25. Rusney Castillo (NR): He’s back, but with Chris Young hitting well, his playing time figures to be limited.

24. Matt Barnes (27): Of the 298 pitchers who have tossed at least 20 innings, only 20 have walked a larger percentage of hitters than Barnes. One of those 20 is Joe Kelly, who has been exiled to Pawtucket. If Barnes can’t control his walks, he should follow him. Walks are a cardinal sin for all pitchers, but especially for middle relievers.

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23. Brock Holt (23): He might begin a rehab assignment soon, and he might not. Perhaps when he’s out on it someone can teach him a knuckleball. At this juncture, he might be able to better help the team from the mound.

22. Blake Swihart (20): Just as he was starting to hit, he got hurt. It’s almost like having a career catcher play the outfield was a terrible idea. But, hey, anytime you can play the immortal Ryan Hanigan, you gotta do it.

21. Tommy Layne (22): Layne moves up this time, but it’s not really because he did anything well. He’s allowed four runs in his last three appearances (1.2 innings pitched), and he’s not currently retiring lefties at an acceptable clip.

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20. Marco Hernandez (24): Another player who moved up basically by default. With 18 plate appearances in 12 games, he really hasn’t had a chance to do much positive or negative.

19. Josh Rutledge (17): As expected, the luster is wearing off. In the past two weeks, Rutledge went 0 for 8 with two walks. He’s still getting the call for playing time over Hernandez, but he probably shouldn’t be.

18. Heath Hembree (16): Of the eight Red Sox relievers with at least 10 innings pitched, Hembree has the lowest walk rate (six percent). He is also inducing the most infield pop ups, while still maintaining a normal home run rate. He’s not perfect, but there is more to like than dislike about Hembree.

17. Koji Uehara (15): To say that Uehara is being mismanaged right now would be an understatement. He is just one of 99 relief pitchers in major league history to toss 20 or more innings in a season as a 41-year-old or older.  In the last five years, the only other pitchers on this list are LaTroy Hawkins, Mariano Rivera, Darren Oliver and Miguel Batista. This isn’t a common thing, and manager John Farrell should be using him judiciously – saving him for tie games or other high-leverage situations when the team has a lead. In other words, a one- or two-run lead. He’s doing just the opposite. Here was the run situation at the beginning of Uehara’s last 10 appearances: Ahead 8, down 1, tie game, down 1, ahead 3, ahead 4, tie game, ahead 2, ahead 4, down 2. That’s using him appropriately three times in the last 10. Uehara hasn’t responded well; he allowed three homers in those 10 appearances and had a 5.67 ERA. Instead of treating Uehara as the unique pitcher he is, Farrell has reflexively used him as his eighth-inning guy. While Farrell doesn’t have a ton of options, he’s going to have one fewer if he keeps wasting Uehara’s bullets in irrelevant situations. Uehara is close to broken.

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16. Hanley Ramirez (12): If you’re like me, you keep patiently waiting for Ramirez to get hot at the dish. He’s doing so many other things well that it’s easier to be patient, but it’d be nice if he could start hitting like the Hanley Ramirez of old too.

15. Christian Vazquez (19): The Red Sox have essentially pushed all their chips to Vazquez, despite his terrible hitting. Over the past two weeks, Vazquez hit .200/.243/.314, and for the season is hitting 51 percent worse than league average. Woof. But he moves up in this edition because at the moment he’s basically the team’s only viable option at catcher.

14. Eduardo Rodriguez (18): On Sunday, Rodriguez became just the 19th pitcher in major league history to allow four hits and have them all be home runs.

So, don’t expect to see that again. But it would be nice if Rodriguez could find where all his strikeouts are.

13. Rick Porcello (11): It wasn’t a great fortnight for Porcello; his home runs allowed went up and his strikeouts went down. But he kept the team in both of his starts, which came on the road against Baltimore and Toronto.

12. Robbie Ross Jr. (13): He didn’t get to do much these past two weeks, but has still been very solid for the season.

11. Chris Young (14): Young is proving he was one of the savvier signings the team made this offseason, as he has been on fire at the plate against both lefties and righties. He figures to see more playing time with Swihart on the shelf.

10. Travis Shaw (10): Shaw in April: .314/.385/.500, with a .39 BB/K ratio. Shaw in May: .275/.336/.514, with a .25 BB/K. Shaw in June: .200/.238/.300, with a .20 BB/K. He needs to make some adjustments before the bottom drops out.

9. David Price (7): After striking out at least eight in his first three starts, he’s only done it in two of his last nine starts. In the other seven, he hasn’t struck out more than six batters. Price isn’t actually pitching poorly – he’s logged quality starts in each of his last five starts – but the drop in K’s is definitely worrisome.

8. Junichi Tazawa (9): Tazawa got lit up when Farrell used him for the third time in four days on May 28. He got lit up again in his next outing, and admitted that Farrell riding him hard had been a factor in his lackluster performances. If it isn’t painfully obvious yet, the team needs more relievers that Farrell can trust.

7. Craig Kimbrel (8): Even Kimbrel got touched this past fortnight, in that same May 28th game where Tazawa got lit up. Chalk it up to just a bad game, perhaps, at least for Kimbrel. He went back to posting zeroes right after that outing.

6. Steven Wright (5): Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs is sold on Wright, but two straight outings with five walks allowed are slightly concerning. The good news is that he still hasn’t allowed many hits, so overall he’s still not allowing a lot of base runners.

5. Dustin Pedroia (4): Pedroia didn’t really do anything do get demoted on this list, it’s more that Mookie Betts caught fire and leapfrogged him.

4. Jackie Bradley Jr. (1): Bradley has cooled off a little bit since his hitting streak ended, but a) it was the 10th-best hitting streak since 1947, and b) he and his wife just had their first child. I think we can let it slide.

3. David Ortiz (3): Over the last two weeks, Ortiz slugged .905. I think that’s pretty good?

2. Mookie Betts (6): Betts became just the seventh member of the Red Sox to have a three-homer game in his first 250 games in the majors. One of the other six, Fred Lynn, also managed the feat as a 23-year-old. I didn’t get to watch Fred Lynn play in Boston, but I hear he was good at baseball.

1. Xander Bogaerts (2): Bogaerts continues to be one of the best shortstops in baseball (the best if you think of Baltimore’s Manny Machado as a third baseman) and is doing everything right. If he hadn’t been so unselfish on Friday he might still have his hitting streak going too.

Who are the Red Sox all-time statistical leaders?

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