Boy, oh boy, was the outfield a mess in the Red Sox first half! With the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury in the offseason, Jackie Bradley Jr. was expected to be the everyday center fielder, and the signing of Grady Sizemore would create some competition. Daniel Nava, Jonny Gomes, and Mike Carp would all see some time in left and Shane Victorino would return to his spot in right. What the Red Sox didn’t know was that their outfield would be one of the worst offensive trios in team history.
Jackie Bradley Jr. knew he had some big shoes to fill after Ellsbury’s departure, and maybe they were a little too big for Bradley to handle. His defense has been spectacular and could potentially garner him some attention for the gold glove award, but his bat has hurt the club. In recent weeks, he has changed his stance and taken a new approach at the plate, resulting in a .375 average in the month of July. However, his .208 average prior to that would have probably sent him down to the minors if he wasn’t so good in the field. Will he ever be a .300 hitter? It’s possible, but I don’t plan on seeing it anytime soon. If he could hit around a .300 clip for the rest of the year though, that would make a lot of people forget his rough first half.
Daniel Nava was getting some All-Star votes last season, and this year he was taking bus rides in Pawtucket. Less than a month into the season, Nava’s .149 average, about half of his .303 average from last year, had him sent down for a one month stint. Since returning, he has done quite well. In the month of June he hit .313 and so far in July, he’s hit .373. It would be nice if he could find some pop (only eight extra base hits all year) and start driving in runners (10 RBI’s), but that is bound to happen if he continues to hit.
Shane Victorino was banged up last year, but was able to play through most of it and be a very important part of the team. He hasn’t been able to stay on the field this year though, adding to the outfield madness. His durability needs to be questioned, because a hamstring injury shouldn’t shelf a guy for so long, but perhaps making his way back to the club slowly will give him the best chance of staying healthy. When he has played, he hasn’t been that great either. Just a .627 OPS in the 21 games played so far is well below his .802 total last year. The Sox will need him hitting well when he returns because all this team needs right now is another strong defensive player who can’t hit.
Jonny Gomes has essentially been the same player that he was a year ago. He became a fan favorite last year with his clutch hits and playoff antics, but he may not be around much longer. With Victorino coming back soon, there isn’t much need for a player like Gomes and the Kansas City Royals have expressed interest in acquiring him. I wouldn’t like seeing him go, but in a business like baseball, a .234 hitting outfielder is very expendable.
Grady Sizemore was given a shot when Ben Cherington decided to make one of the most unexpected signings of the offseason. The oft-injured Sizemore had been out of the game for two years, so you couldn’t really expect much from him. I expected his downfall to come from injuries, but it turns out he just didn’t have the skills he had seven years ago. Shocking, right? The Phillies recently picked him up and have given him yet another chance to get back into the game, so I hope he is able to keep his job there.
Brock Holt has obviously been great wherever John Farrell sticks him, and recently that has been in the outfield. Mostly playing in right, Holt has been able to hit the lights out while still playing decent defense. Considering he had never played an inning of professional baseball in the outfield, Holt has really passed every test he’s been given with flying colors. It should be interesting to see where he plays once Victorino returns, but I am sure Farrell will find a spot somewhere.
Jackie Bradley Jr- Grade: C
Daniel Nava- Grade: C-
Shane Victorino- Grade: D-
Jonny Gomes- Grade: C-
Grady Sizemore- Grade: F
Brock Holt- Grade: A