The 10 Best Red Sox Single-Season Performances of the 2010s

With the 2010s quickly coming to a close, I thought it would be interesting to look back on the decade that was for the Red Sox. In this first installment, we’ll start with the best single-season performances for Red Sox position players and pitchers alike from 2010 up until 2019. Let’s get to it.

10. Chris Sale’s 2018 season (6.2 fWAR)

It may have been shortened due to left shoulder inflammation, but Sale’s second season with the Red Sox was something to behold. In 27 starts for the eventual World Series champs, the left-hander posted a dazzling 2.11 ERA and 2.31 xFIP over 158 innings of work, all while punching out more than 38% of the hitters he faced in 2018.

Sale also recorded the final three outs of the World Series against the Dodgers that year. Not a bad way to wrap up what could have been a Cy Young Award-winning campaign had he stayed healthy all the way through.

9. Adrian Gonzalez’s 2011 season (6.2 fWAR)

Gonzalez might not have spent much time with Boston, but the first baseman made his only full season with the Red Sox count, slashing .338/.410/.548 with 27 home runs and 177 RBI while leading the American League in hits (217) in an All-Star year.

Acquired from the Padres in exchange for a package headlined by Anthony Rizzo, Gonzalez and the Sox agreed to a seven-year, $154 million contract extension that April, but eventually shipped him off to the Dodgers in a blockbuster trade more than a year later.

8. Adrian Beltre’s 2010 season (6.4 fWAR)

Next month will mark the 10-year anniversary of the Red Sox and Beltre agreeing to a one-year, $10 million deal for the 2010 season, and what a season it was for the veteran third baseman looking to reset his value.

In 154 games that year, Beltre slashed .321/.365/.553 with 28 homers and 102 RBI to go along with a league-leading 49 doubles.

Ultimately finishing ninth in American League MVP voting, the Dominican Republic native went on to sign a five-year, $80 million deal with the Rangers, leaving many to wonder what could have been had Beltre remained in Boston past 2010.

7. Mookie Betts’ 2019 season (6.6 fWAR)

After taking home his first MVP Award the previous year, many would describe Betts’ 2019 as a “down” season. But in reality, the 27-year-old was as impressive as ever, slashing .295/.391/.524 with 29 home runs, 80 RBI, and a league-leading 135 runs scored over 150 games played.

Defensively speaking, Betts notched his fourth consecutive Gold Glove Award for American League right fielders in what might have been his last full season in Boston depending on what happens between now and this coming July.

6. Xander Bogaerts’ 2019 season (6.8 fWAR)

Speaking of this year’s Red Sox team, Bogaerts really took it to another level both on and off the field in 2019 after agreeing to a six-year, $120 million extension back in early April.

Playing in 155 games this season, the All-Star shortstop slashed .309/.384/.555 to go along with a career-best 33 homers and 117 RBI. Those numbers landed the 27-year-old his third career Silver Slugger Award as well as fifth-place finish in AL MVP voting.

5. Chris Sale’s 2017 season (7.6 fWAR)

Turning back to the pitching now, Sale made quite the first impression in his first season in a Red Sox uniform.

After coming over in a blockbuster trade with the Chicago White Sox the previous December, the left-hander posted a 2.90 ERA and league-leading 2.45 FIP over 32 games started and a league-leading 214 1/3 innings of work.

Not to mention he also struck out 308 of the 851 batters he faced in what wind up netting Sale a second-place finish in AL Cy Young voting and ninth-place finish in MVP voting.

4. Dustin Pedroia’s 2011 season (7.9 fWAR)

Due to a historic September collapse, the 2011 season may be one the Red Sox would like to forget about, but it still netted a decent amount of positive individual performances statistically speaking.

Adrian Gonzalez’s season is one we already discussed, and now it’s on to Dustin Pedroia.

In his age-27 season, the second baseman slashed .307/.387/.474 with a career-best 21 home runs, 91 runs driven in, 26 stolen bases, and 86 walks over 159 games played, all of which came at second base.

Offensively and defensively, Pedroia was the best second baseman in all of baseball that season, as he earned his second of four career Gold Glove Awards while finishing ninth in American League MVP voting.

3. Mookie Betts’ 2016 season. (8.3 fWAR)

Oh look, it’s Mookie Betts again. We already talked about what the 2018 AL MVP did this past season, but now it’s time to talk about when the then 23-year-old truly broke out.

Opening the 2016 campaign by making his second straight Opening Day Roster, Betts followed up an impressive first full season by being even better the next.

In 158 games, the first-time All-Star slashed .318/.363/.534 to go along with 31 homers and a career-best 113 RBI, all while leading the American League in total bases with 359 of them on the season.

2016 was the first step in Betts earning the unofficial title of “the best outfielder in baseball not named Mike Trout,” as the Tennessee native finished right behind the Angels star in MVP voting while also taking home his first career Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards that year.

2. Jacoby Ellsbury’s 2011 season (9.5 fWAR)

Ellsbury may have just been cut loose after a mostly disappointing six-year tenure with the Yankees, but let’s not forget that from the time he made his first Opening Day roster in 2008 up until his departure in 2013, the Oregon State University product was a top-five outfielder in the American League in his time with the Red Sox.

Looking at his 2011 season more specifically, Ellsbury posted a .321/.376/.552 slash line to go along with a career-high 32 homers and 105 RBI over 158 games played.

Many wonder if Ellsbury would have won AL MVP in 2011 had it not been for his club’s historic collapse in September. Instead, the Tigers’ Justin Verlander took home the award, while Ellsbury took home his first career Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards.

1. Mookie Betts’ 2018 season (10.4 fWAR)

Finally, we arrive at the only Red Sox player to win an MVP Award this decade in Betts, who put together a monster 2018 season, which also happens to arguably be the greatest season in Sox history.

Playing in 136 games and batting primarily out of the leadoff spot, Betts slashed .346/.438/.640 with a career-high 32 home runs and 80 RBI while pacing the American League in runs scored with 129 of them on the season.

In terms of MVP voting, it was not particularily close, as the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award-winning outfielder received 28 of 30 first-place votes.

According to FanGraphs, Betts accrued 10.4 fWAR in 2018, the highest total from one single season this decade. In short, the Tennessee native is very good at baseball.

Honorable mentions

Because I used FanGraphs’ fWAR metric to compile this list, David Ortiz’s 2016 season and J.D. Martinez’s 2018 season did not make the cut.

Also, Rick Porcello is the only Sox pitcher this decade to win a Cy Young Award, which he accomplished in 2016, so that deserves a shout out in its own right.

Mookie Betts Set to Make 2019 Spring Debut on Wednesday

Just over a week since the Red Sox held their first full squad workout on February 18th., Mookie Betts is set to make his first in-game appearance of the spring on Wednesday.

The reigning American League Most Valuable Player will make his 2019 debut in some split-squad action against the Baltimore Orioles at JetBlue Park tomorrow afternoon, presumably batting second and starting in right field. Jackie Bradley Jr. and Eduardo Rodriguez will also start.

On the flip side of that, Andrew Benintendi, Michael Chavis, and Brock Holt will travel to Port Charlotte and start against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday. Mitch Moreland will also make his spring debut on the road.

Entering his fifth full season in Boston, Betts, 26, slashed .346/.438/.640 with a career-high 32 home runs and 80 RBI in 136 games played in 2018.

With the recent news of Nolan Arenado’s reported $260 million contract extension with the Colorado Rockies, it would not be all that surprising if Betts’ camp and the Red Sox are able to reach an agreement on a long-term extension of their own within the next few weeks before the start of the regular season.

 

#RedSox Sign 2018 World Series MVP Steve Pearce to One-Year Deal.

The Red Sox announced Friday evening that they had come to an agreement with first baseman Steve Pearce on a one-year, $6.25 million contract through the 2019 season.

Pearce, 35, was acquired by Boston from the Toronto Blue Jays back on June 26th in a two-player deal.

A soon to be free agent, the journeyman infielder made his presence felt immediately with his new club, as he finished the 2018 campaign with a solid .279/.394/.507 slash line to go along with seven home runs and 26 RBI over 50 games in a Red Sox uniform.

More importantly, Pearce came through with multiple clutch performances in October, including a two-homer night in the fifth and deciding game of the 2018 World Series, which ultimately led him to being named the Fall Classic’s Most Valuable Player.

“We’re thrilled to have Steve back with us for another year as we think he’s a great fit for our club,” said President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski. “Obviously, we all saw what kind of impact he can have on the field, especially with the Postseason that he had. He also provides good depth and balance from the right side for us.”

Entering his 13th year in the big leagues in 2019, the Florida native will more than likely take on the same platoon role he had at first base with Mitch Moreland over the latter half of the 2018 season.

On the business side of things, the $6.25 million Pearce will earn in 2019 is the same amount he earned in both of the last two seasons with the Blue Jays and Red Sox.

With Pearce now taken care of, here’s a list of the remaining free agents who ended their year with Boston:

RHP Craig Kimbrel
RHP Nathan Eovaldi
RHP Joe Kelly
LHP Drew Pomeranz
INF Brandon Phillips
2B Ian Kinsler

 

 

Mookie Betts Is Named 2018 American League MVP.

For the first time in his career, Mookie Betts is an MVP, as announced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Thursday evening.

He finished second in voting in 2016, sixth in voting in 2017, but now, the 26-year-old can finally add a Most Valuable Player trophy to his impressive collection.

Coming into the 2018 season as one of the more established outfielders in all of baseball alongside Angels center fielder Mike Trout, the three-time All-Star got his MVP campaign off to a scorching start that he would not have to look back from.

Ending his fourth full year in the bigs with a gaudy .346/.438/.640 slash line to go along with a career-high 32 home runs, 80 RBI and a league-leading 129 runs scored over 136 games, Betts officially received 28 of the 30 first place votes.

Already the recipient of his second Silver Slugger and third Gold Glove Award earlier in the month, the Tennessee native has had himself quite the offseason.

A World Series champion for the first time…

A father for the first time…

And now, an MVP for the first time…

So, congratulations to Mookie Betts, someone who worked his way from a fifth round pick out of high school in the 2011 amateur draft all the way to one of the best all-around players in the American League. Perhaps a hefty contract extension is in order sometime in the coming months?

Betts’ teammate, JD Martinez, who was not listed as one of the three finalists on the American League ballot, officially finished fourth in AL MVP voting.

 

 

Mookie Betts Named Wilson Defensive Player of the Year for Right Fielders.

Just three days after receiving his second straight Gold Glove Award on Sunday night, Mookie Betts’ defense was in the spotlight once again, as he was named Wilson Defensive Player of the Year for his work in right field this season.

Among qualified American League right fielders, the 26-year-old finshed first in multiple defensive categories, such as Defensive Runs Saved (20), Ultimate Zone Rating (15.3), and Defense (10.1), per FanGraphs.

This is the first time Betts has received this particular award since he was named the overall defensive player of the year in 2016, a season in which he finished second in American League Most Valuable Player voting.

This year, the Tennessee native seems poised to change his luck after having his best regular season in terms of Wins Above Replacement (10.9) and being named a finalist in the MVP race on Monday.

Before that though, Betts will have to settle for his second career Silver Slugger Award, which he is set to win on Thursday after leading all of baseball in hitting in 2018 (.346 batting average).

Alex Cora Named Manager of the Year Finalist, Mookie Betts Named American League MVP Finalist.

One night after Ian Kinsler, Mookie Betts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. won Rawlings Gold Glove Awards for their defensive prowess at their respective positions, the Red Sox were back it again on Monday in the thick of award season.

This time, two of the best at what they do were named finalists for some decently important awards.

First, first-year manager Alex Cora, fresh off leading his team to their ninth World Series title just over a week ago, was named one of the four finalists for Manager of the Year.

In a field that also consists of Athletics manager Bob Melvin, Rockies manager Bud Black, and Brewers manager Craig Counsell, Cora sticks out as the only rookie manager on this impressive lost of baseball minds.

Taking over a team that had won back-to-back American League East titles for the first time in its franchise’s history, the native of Puerto Rico went ahead and set the club’s all-time record in regular season wins (108).

Cora’s Red Sox didn’t bat an eye in October either, as they went a stunning 11-3 run to clinch another World Series title, making their mark as one of the more dominant baseball teams ever assembled.

On the player side of the award announcements, neither Chris Sale nor JD Martinez were named finalists in AL Cy Young and AL MVP consideration, but as was expected by many, Mookie Betts was named as one of the three finalists in the junior circuit for the second time in three seasons.

In his age 25 season, the three-time All-Star led the American League in batting average (.346), slugging percentage (.640), and runs scored (129), as well as setting a new career high in home runs with 32 of them in 2018.

Along with Betts, Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout and Cleveland Indians infielder Jose Ramirez were named as MVP finalists.

I was a tad bit flustered that JD Martinez was not named given how much he meant to the Red Sox this season, but all will be forgiven if Betts claims his first ever MVP crown on November 11th.

Next up in the award season circuit is the Silver Slugger Award, whose winners are set to be announced on November 8th.