For the first time since 2013 the Boston Red Sox will be playing for the American League Pennant. Every national media outlet picked against them, every single one. The only analysts picked the Red Sox to win this series were ex-Sox players, which is just mind boggling saying the Red Sox won 108 games during the regular season. Sure they have had their postseason struggles the past two seasons, but this team just won 108 games and nobody was giving them a shot against the Yankees whose starting pitching has been up and down all year.
It's funny how all of these "experts" can forget that Boston boasted the best offense in baseball the entire year. Is it that easy to forget that they lead the MLB in AVG, RBI, R, OBP, SLG, OPS, H, and 2B? Either way, the series is over and the Red Sox flexed their muscles all over New York. Let's grade each player on their performance after the ALDS.
Sandy Leon- B. While he was a brick wall behind the plate during games one and two, there is no arguing the fact that he is horrendous at the plate. When you're going good at the plate they say it's like swinging at a beach ball, well apparently Leon is seeing a BB.
Christian Vazquez- A+. I know that people love Leon for his defense, the way he calls a game and his catchers ERA, but Vazquez was an absolute stud in his two games caught in the Division Series. He worked well with both Eovaldi and Porcello, even though Porcello has Leon as his personal catcher. He also swung the bat much better than Leon did, putting up a slash line of .333/.400/.667. He also was the only Red Sox player to take advantage of the biggest joke of a right field in baseball, hitting a solo shot off of Yankees big deadline pickup Zach Britton. I've always loved what Vazquez brings to the table, and I hope he continues to produce like this against the Astros.
Blake Swihart- N/A. He was only a pinch hitter and got the lone at bat.
Steve Pearce- A. When Pearce was acquired from the Blue Jays nobody thought he would start 3 out of 4 games in the ALDS, but am I glad he did. He came up big with 2 outs multiple times in this series and made a hell of a play to end the series.
Mitch Moreland- B. Only played in one game and injured himself on his lone run of the series. Nothing spectacular, but not bad.
Ian Kinsler- B+. Kinsler was solid for the Sox, but there were a couple of times he left a lot of runners on base during his three games played. With his big hit in last nights clinching game 4 I feel like he can be a big contributor in the ALCS while still splitting time with Holt. His defense and speed are still great and that will play a key roll against Houston.
Brock Holt- A+. This grade should be obvious. He was the first player in MLB history to hit for the cycle in the Postseason. He went out on the field after not playing in over a week and went 4-6. The guy is the glue to this team and nobody can convince me otherwise. Not to mention the great play he made at second base when the game was actually still up for grabs.
Xander Bogaerts- B-. While Bogaerts certainly didn't have a bad series, but it was pretty average. He gave the Sox a chance when he went deep Saturday night and made some decent plays defensively throughout the series, but I'm still waiting for his big moment where he really puts the team on his back.
Eduardo Núñez- C. He was straight up terrible in the games at Fenway but turned it on for Game 4. He had a big RBI hit and played great defense, something I thought he wasn't capable of until the final play of the game. He did come up lame after that spectacular play however, so we'll have to wait and see if it's his knee that has bothered him for the past year and if he'll be on the ALCS roster.
Rafael Devers- A. He only played in one game, but he played well. When Cora needed a spark in the lineup he plugged in Devers and Holt. Both of them showed up and gave the team the spark they desperately needed after the struggles against Tanaka on Saturday. With Núñez having tweaked something in his leg it looks as if Devers will have to be the go to guy against Verlander and Cole when they toe the rubber in Boston this weekend.
Andrew Benintendi- B. He had the big bases clearing double on Monday night that sparked the 16-1 rout. Outside of the the rest of his series was a little underwhelming. He played great defense, but his offensive production will have to improve to get Martinez more RBI chances.
Jackie Bradley Jr.- D. I know he is here for his defense and you take his lackluster performance at the plate along with it, but he needs to have more offensive production against a tough Astros rotation. They need to set the table for Betts and give him more RBI chances.
Mookie Betts- C. It was nice to see him get his first Postseason RBI, but he just looks different at the plate when it becomes October. He looks lost at the plate and I don't like that coming from the table setter for this team and the MVP of the American League. He needs to figure it out come Saturday night or else it will be a long series for the Sox.
J.D. Martinez- A. Martinez was solid the entire series and set the tone early when he went deep off of Happ. He wound up hitting .357 and drove in 6 runs. In a four game series you can't ask for much more from your stud in the middle of the lineup.
Chris Sale- A+. I don't think anyone was ready to see Sale throw the way he did this series. Everyone was concerned that he wouldn't pitch well in the Postseason, but he came out and shut down the Yankees bats. Then there was the relief outing when he came in and went three up, three down. It gave everybody in Red Sox Nation comfort in knowing that they have an ace going into the showdown of the two best records in baseball.
David Price- F. He looked like a chicken with his head cut off once again during a big October start. It's such a sad thing to see really. One of the best regular season pitchers in his era and he is just absolutely the worst come the Postseason. We saw Kershaw be bad at the beginning of his Postseason career, but he has started to figure it out. Maybe Price should give him a call and see how he got in the right mindset. Unfortunately, I'm a big dummy and think that he'll bounce back in the ALCS. Don't give him Game 2 however, give him Game 4 so you only see him once this series.
Nathan Eovaldi- A+. He was nails against the Yankees in his three appearances with the Sox during the regular season so it was only fitting that when he took the bump on Monday, he dominated. The guy throws gas and moves his pitches around the zone perfectly to keep hitters from being able to catch up to the consistent 97+. I still don't think he got enough credit for what he was able to do. He was overshadowed by Brock Holt hitting for the cycle, and rightfully so, but 7 innings of 5 hit, 1 run ball is a great day in the Postseason.
Rick Porcello- A. Didn't expect him to come out of the bullpen in Game 1, but he was the best pitcher out of the bullpen that night. It was a great performance and I wish he was able to go another inning that night. Fast forward to Tuesday and he came out and dealt. Granted he gave up some hard hit balls, but he pitched well enough to give up just 1 run over 5 innings in a close out game in New York. It was a performance that brings back flashbacks of 2004, there I said it.
Craig Kimbrel- D-. He was flat out terrible in both games that he pitched in. He gave up the opposite field bomb to Judge in Game 1 and almost blew that game, and then he made a mess out of the 9th last night. I almost had a heart attack watching him choke away the lead. The strike zone was nowhere to be found by him and he was lucky that Núñez bailed him out with a great play. Boston is going to need him to go on one of his hot stretches if they want to win 8 more games and a ring.
Matt Barnes- A. Game 1 he was not sharp, but he didn't give up a run, Game 4 he was lights out. Having a 0.00 ERA after the first series is a big step in the right direction for Barnes and the Red Sox.
Ryan Brasier- A. You can read what I wrote for Barnes just to copy and paste it here for Brasier. He was not sharp in Game 1 when the Sox needed him to be, and yet he still pitched 3 shutout innings in this series. He figured it out and took on a new personality when he told Sanchez to "Get the f*$!k in the box". Need the same Brasier against the Astros that we got in his second two appearances.
Joe Kelly- A+. This one hurts me to write. I hate Joe Kelly. Well I don't hate Joe Kelly, he's actually a pretty funny dude that has some good pitches but is so inconsistent. Never thought I'd see him come out and pitch the way he did on Saturday. He was absolutely dominant. 2.1 innings of one hit baseball and every pitch he threw was the right one. One can only hope that he figures it out and stays being dominant against the team that started his downward spiral in the regular season.
Eduardo Rodriguez- F. Another guy like Price that needs to figure it out. He gave up a homer that is orbiting planet Earth as you read this. Plus he just didn't cover the bag which made him look totally stupid. I don't trust him and I don't want him pitching any high leverage situations.
Heath Hembree- B. A guy that was supposed to be sitting on his couch watching the Red Sox in the Division Series got the call after Steven Wright went down with a knee injury. Two innings of no hit ball was good, but he did walk 3 batters in a low leverage situation. He was good, but not great.
At the end of the day it was a series in which the majority of the Red Sox played at a good, if not great level. Bring on Houston!