What Else Should Red Sox Fans Expect From Sandy Leon?

In 2016, Sandy Leon had a breakout season, hitting .310 and averaging at least one base knock per game. Leon had historically been a weak hitter during the first part of his career with the Washington Nationals. Some will say that it was leonbecause he finally had consistent playing time, while others will look to his changing plate mechanics. But perhaps his success may have been due to the unfamiliarity of Leon as an everyday player among major league pitchers.

Ultimately, the Red Sox benefited from Leon’s renaissance en route to a record-setting offense and an American League East title.

What should Red Sox fans expect from Sandy Leon in 2017?

Should they expect the same kind of explosive offensive production? What about the consistency?

Well, the only real explanation for any such prediction would be his recent performance and Spring Training statistics. In 13 games, Leon batted .265 with only 34 at-bats. Small sample size, but respectable considering much of Spring Training consists of low-level minor league players and journeyman bench players.

His Opening Day performance highlighted another element of Leon’s game. In the second inning, Leon threw out Gregory Polanco as he attempted to steal second. In the fifth, Leon beat the shift on a bunt down the third-base line with two outs, setting up a three-run home run by Andrew Benintendi.

Leon blasted a walk-off home run in the twelfth inning on Wednesday night to secure a hard-earned second win. He previously hit a single and double earlier in the affair.

But despite these factors, he is not alone at the catching position on the Red Sox depth chart. For the past couple of seasons, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart have been developing young catchers in the high minor league levels and, at times, the major league level. Vazquez has superb defensive ability and must work on his bat; Swihart is a reliable hitter who needs to improve his defense behind the plate—even though the Red Sox have toyed with him in left field.

The presence of Swihart and Vazquez puts pressure on Leon to be successful in 2017. Red Sox fans should expect him to have consistent, but not spectacular, contributions this season.

Red Sox’s Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes Shine

Red Sox's Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes

Courtesy of nashuatelegram.com

It takes a big woman to admit that she is wrong. And I was.

I was terribly wrong about the Red Sox’s Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes. Others felt the same way, which made me more confident that I was right about these two guys. Before the season even started no one was hot on them. I had a colleague say, “Who’s going to play left, Jonny Gomes, or Mike Carp?” with a sneer on his face. The facts were hard to ignore, too.   Batting averages were well, average. The performance on the field ran hot and cold. And do we even need to get into Gomes’ weird red beard that screams Yosemite Sam? Carp and Gomes were best described as one step from greatness. Now, they are great, especially in a pinch.

In the last few games, specifically Wednesday, July 3rd’s game, Gomes and Carp were afire. Carp at first base. Initially I thought, “Oh no.” He made some plays, though. He played a pretty solid first base making a catch right in front of the dugout. He continued to play strong defense at first on Wednesday, keeping players from advancing. Carp can do the work there while Mike Napoli gets the rest days he may need. No one should be whining about Nap getting some rest days, since that was on the table at the very beginning of the season. Please, shut up about it. Mike Napoli is an outstanding player, but we all know the truth about his hip situation, so let’s not try and rewrite history, whining and moaning about his not being on the bag every night. This is another case of selective amnesia in Boston. It must be the heat.

red sox's mike carp and jonny gomes

Courtesy of aattp.org

But Gomes, Yosemite Gomes, you made the game Wednesday night with both guns blazing. Staring down the barrel of a 2-2 count, you swung and got the fireworks started on Independence Day Eve over the Green Monster. On the Fourth of July, he continued to produce in the seventh inning and raised his batting average to the mid .300s.  Defensively, he has proven himself strong in left field. He made a solid catch in the 3rd inning displaying his reliability.

My colleague’s comment in April snuffed out with one swing of the bat.

“That is a walk off home run for Jonny Gomes.” There is a sentence no one ever thought they would here Don Orsillo say at the beginning of the season.

We were wrong about you.

Yosemite prove yourself right every night, as we approach the All-Star break. I know I’ve never been happier to be wrong.