Boston Red Sox Year In Review: 2014 Bright Notes

Red Sox brock holtFor the defending World Series Champ Boston Red Sox, expectations could not have been higher heading into 2014.

To call it as it was, 2014 was a disappointment. Boston went just 71-91, securing themselves a top-10 pick in the 2015 MLB draft.
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Aside from landing themselves a high draft pick, 2014 was, for the most part, a failure. Prospects failed to impress as did veterans. Whether it be Clay Buchholz posting a 5.37 ERA, Brandon Workman going 1-10, Jackie Bradley Jr. hitting below the Mendoza Line or Will Middlebrooks flat out just not playing well, there were many problems with the team.

Those were just few of the Red Sox problems this year and to name all of the problems would require an entire novel, so let’s focus on the positives a bit instead.

The emergence of Brock Holt was a big and pleasant surprise for the Red Sox. Hitting .281/.331/.381 while providing versatility with the ability to play seven positions, Holt is a keeper for Boston despite his second half slump.
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Although many rookies try and most fail, Mookie Betts tried and succeeded. He hit .291/.368/.444 on the year in 52 games clubbing five home runs while swiping seven bags. Hitting .310 in his 100 at-bats in September, Betts proved he is ready to put up All-Star caliber numbers in 2015, most likely as an outfielder.

A lefty-one-out guy or, as many call it, a LOOGY, Tommy Layne had one job and he came up clutch time and time again doing what he does best — setting down lefties. In 30 appearances totaling 19 innings, Layne let up just two earned runs putting his ERA at 0.95. Although he is not a guy Boston wants facing right-handed batters, he is one they want to keep.
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Ending the year on a 7-for-11 note, Christian Vazquez made it clear he can handle Major League Baseball right now. The 2008 MLB draft choice hit .240/.308/.309 in 55 games which may sound less-than-impressive, but he did something else well—defense. Catching 52% of would-be base stealers, runners may think twice before running on the Puerto Rican native.

A slew of other rookies also impressed in their short stints in Boston. For example, Bryce Brentz went 5-for-7 off left-handed pitching, Rusney Castillo posted a .400 OBP in 10 games, Garin Cecchini posted a .361 OBP in 11 games, Dan Butler called a good game and was a great receiver behind the plate, and Drake Britton tossed 6.2 scoreless.

For veteran players not much can be said on a positive note, but a few things are worth noting.

Mike Napoli showed no signs of regression and posted a .370 OBP with a .789 OPS, both of which are nothing to scoff at.

David Ortiz managed to club 35 homers while posting a .355 OBP. It will be sad to see Ortiz go within the next five years.

After a slow start and a stint in AAA Pawtucket, Daniel Nava still managed to clip .270 with a .346 OBP, the highest of all qualifying Red Sox outfielders. It is hard to imagine Nava leaving the team this off season with that in mind.
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Relievers Burke Badenhop, Alex Wilson, Junichi Tazawa and even Edward Mujica proved their worth with Boston this season all posting 2.29, 1.91, 2.70, and 3.90 ERA’s respectively. They put together the best pitching performances of any Red Sox pitchers this season.

Despite all that went wrong this year for the Red Sox, knowing that next year will be better gives fans hope and makes the 2015 season worth watching.

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