After struggling in the opening stretch of the season, the Red Sox have started playing like every has expected them to, despite their current four game skid. With June upon us, I figured today would be a good day to hand out some grades to the players.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia: C
Saltalamacchia had a nice stretch during the month of May, but has been unproductive for the majority of the year. He is hitting below his career averages in his triple-slash line. He is also only getting on base 27% of the time. Defensively, he has thrown out 26% percent of runners who have challenged him, which would be a career high.
Adrian Gonzalez: A+
Gonzalez came to Boston amidst great expectations, and has somehow found a way to exceed them. He has excelled in every facet of the game, and is truly a treat to watch hit. He is currently leading the league in hits and RBIs, and has an impressive triple-slash line of .329/.377/.541. He is quickly becoming a must-watch hitter, a la Manny Ramirez.
Dustin Pedroia: C
Pedroia came into the season with some expectations of his own, and started off the season very well. However, after a hot first couple of weeks, Pedroia has cooled off in a big way. He is currently hitting a measly .245, which is especially awful compared to his career .299 clip. His improvement in the two hole will go a long way for this offense.
Jed Lowrie: B-
Lowrie came up big in the beginning of the season when he was called upon to spell opening day starter Marco Scutaro. He his .368 in that month of April, and has definitively won the starting job at short stop. However, his May was not as successful (he hit .261), and his rep around town is going down. He is still hitting above .300, but his defense has been sub par, to be kind.
Kevin Youkilis: C+
Youkils has been hitting in the cleanup spot all year, and the team could use some more production out of him. He is not getting on base as much as he is, as his .377 OBP is his lowest since 2004, his first year in the majors. He also has a career-low batting average, and his lowest OPS since 2007. His defense at third, however, has been acceptable in his transition back to the position.
Carl Crawford: D
Crawford's much-publicized struggles may be starting to get overblown. I wrote my piece the other day on his steady improvement, and he finished the month of May hitting above .300. I think he continues hitting around that rate and June, and should finish with respectable numbers. However, we can't pretend April didn't happen, so his grade still needs to be putrid.
Jacoby Ellsbury: A
Ellsbury is coming off of an injury riddles-2010, and has answered his critics in a nice way. He is hitting above his career numbers in all parts of his triple-slash line, and is back to leading the league in steals. His defense hasn't been great, but he is still showing his typical range. He has been a stalwart in the leadoff spot for the Sox, and, oh yeah, he hasn't missed a game this year.
JD Drew: G
That's right, I have given Drew a grade below an F. He has been miserably unproductive this year, and is just taking up space in this lineup. He has career low numbers in basically every statistic, and has knocked in just 10 runs this year. The only question that I have for the Red Sox is when will it be time to give Josh Reddick some opportunites, if for nothing else, to raise his trade stock.
David Ortiz: A
Ortiz has been one of the pleasant surprises for the Red Sox in 2011. The man who has been known for his slow starts the past few years has been off to a red hot start. The month of May was especially stupid, as he hit 10 home runs and posted a 1.080 OPS. Many people are pointing to having Gonzalez in the clubhouse as the catalyst for his production, and it seems as logical as anything. Most impressive for Ortiz is his .286 BA against LHPs.
Jon Lester: B
Lester has not been bad as the Red Sox ace this year, but he has not been great either. His 7-2 record looks outstanding, but the rest of his numbers look just good. He has posted a 3.94 ERA, to go along with a 1.354 WHIP, 8.8 K/9IP, and a 74/31 K/BB ratio. Expect Lester to improve with the weather.
Clay Buchholz: B
Buchholz, has very similar numbers to what Lester has, but only has a 4-3 record to show for it. He has come up big in some spots when the Red Sox needed a win, but has also had a couple duds. Like Lester, don't be surprised to see his numbers improve as the summer goes on.
Josh Beckett: A+
Beckett has been outstanding in his bounce-back 2011, especially in the month of May. For the year, he has a microscopic ERA of 1.80, which leads baseball. The offense and bullpen haven't always been there for him, and because of that he has just a 4-2 record. However, it has been pleasantly surprising to see this production from Beckett.
John Lackey: P
I was going to make up a letter for Lackey, but my keyboard does not have these capabilities. Lackey has been on the DL for the past few weeks, so his numbers are only over 7 starts, but they are awful. He has a 8.01 ERA, 1.8 WHIP, and basically a 1-1 strikeout-walk ratio. His first rehab start in Pawtucket went well, and it will be tough to be worse than he was before the injury.
Alfredo Aceves: B+
Aceves struggled his last time out against the White Sox, but other than that he has pitched well for the Red Sox. His first two spot starts gave the Red Sox unexpected production, and his time in long relief was valuable in the beginning of the year, when the Sox starters struggled to make it through five innings.
Tim Wakefield: C+
Wakefield has been alright for the Red Sox this year, but he has left some to be desired too. I don't have much to say about a guy who has been here so long but I will say this: as much as I love the guy, I'd rather see Felix Doubront up here than him.
Jonathan Papelbon: A-
In what many believe will be his last season in Boston, Papelbon has pitched much better than he did in 2010. He has converted 10 of 11 save opportunities, and has posted an impressive WHIP of 1.1, along with 12 Ks per 9 innings.