Right now the Red Sox are running on arrogance. And it’s made all the difference in the world.
Some might not take that as a compliment, but at this point the only thing that matters is getting to the postseason. These Red Sox are in a heated battle with the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays for not just the AL East, but also for the AL Wild Card. Their confidence could be the one characteristic that gets them into the tournament. Confidence, that has turned into downright cockiness - and ultimately, arrogance. Again, this isn’t a bad thing. It’s something you need to have, especially when you never know what you’re going to get out of your $30 million-a-year “ace.”
The hope is that it becomes infectious to the point where David Price is also walking around pounding his chest as if he’s better than everybody else. But more specifically, the hope is that he just starts pitching with conviction, like the team’s actual “ace” at the moment, Rick Porcello.
The biggest difference in Porcello’s game this season is quite obvious. On that mound, he’s a bad dude. He’s not just throwing the ball with confidence. He’s out there yelling and screaming and mean-mugging. Just ask New York Yankees third baseman Chase Headley, who Porcello was in a shouting match with last week after Headley was thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple.
Maybe there was another reason for the argument, but the reason doesn’t matter. Just the fact that Porcello is bringing a bulldog attitude to the mound is refreshing. And it’s the biggest reason he is 16-3 with a 3.30 ERA.
He’s not the only one whose confidence jumps off the screen. Add players like Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Andrew Benintendi to that list.
Betts is a home-run machine. So much so that the manager decided to move him from his regular lead-off spot into the cleanup role. Yes, Betts is now spending time protecting David Ortiz in the Red Sox lineup. You don’t get moved into that role unless you’re swinging the bat like a bad dude with a snarl. And Betts is doing just that.
So is Bradley Jr.. His confidence has turned into cockiness, which has turned into home runs. Nobody expected him to hit 20 home runs this season. But not only is he showing plenty of power at the plate while hitting .280, he’s using that power to all areas of the field. He’ll take you deep with an inside pitch. He’ll jump all over a fastball upstairs. He’ll golf one out. And he’ll take your outside pitch the other way. The look in his eyes lets you know he believes he’s going to put that ball in the seats.
Benintendi also has that look on his face. The kid walks around the field like he’s better than you, and he doesn’t really care what you think about that. But if that’s what it takes to be as successful as he has been while making the jump up to the Majors from Double-A, then give me a 22-year-old outfielder with an ego all day, every day. That’s what the Red Sox are getting from Benintendi, who is absolutely living up to the hype.
These are just a few examples of the individual confidence that this Red Sox team oozes. You don’t need me to tell you about how David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia carry themselves on the field. That duo has as much swagger as anyone in the league. And someone like Xander Bogaerts, his confidence is evident from last season alone, when he established himself as a superstar, hitting .320 in 156 games as the Red Sox' everyday shortstop.
Confidence seems like a simple characteristic to own as a professional ball player. Obviously, if you’re in the Majors, you’re a confident cat. But right now, some of the major players on this Red Sox team have turned their confidence into cockiness and arrogance.
That’s not a bad thing at all, because that attitude will carry them into the postseason. And if a few others can follow suit, then it could make for an interesting October.