We’re only a couple weeks into the long MLB season, and for some people it’s just too early to really care one way or the other about the Red Sox. But for those who find themselves at Fenway Park or watching the game from their recliner, they are finding that there are reasons to feel both optimistic and pessimistic about this year’s team.
The absence of David Ortiz is certainly being felt from a power standpoint. The Sox had just six home runs as a team – three from Pablo Sandoval – as of Tuesday. But they continue to find other ways to win, whether it’s with pitching or late-inning comebacks, where the Sox have won five games after being tied or trailing after six innings.
They went into Tuesday night’s game in Toronto with an 8-5 record after three straight wins against the Rays over the weekend and on Marathon Monday.
Here are three positives to come out of the first couple weeks of baseball.
Benintendi is the real deal
There has been much buzz surrounding Red Sox prospect Andrew Benintendi - and for good reason. The Red Sox left fielder came into the season ranked as Baseball America's top prospect, a label that he has certainly lived up to so far. Benintendi's swing has already been compared to that of Red Sox great Carl Yastrzemski's, and the two play the same position, too. Benintendi was the youngest player to start in left field on Opening Day since Yaz, and it's hard to believe the comparisons will end there, either. The 22-year old is off to a fast start for the Sox, as he's batting .314 with a home run and nine RBI. His two most recent RBI came in Monday's Patriots Day win over the Rays, when he roped a two-run single up the middle to give Boston a 3-2 lead they wouldn't look back from. Sure, it's extremely early in the season, but it already looks like Benintendi is a player that Sox can build around for years to come. Just give him the AL Rookie of the Year award now.
Chris Sale as advertised
Chris Sale has made just three career starts for the Red Sox, but it's already clear that when he takes the mound it's appointment viewing. Sale has been a victim of little to no run support through those first three games, and has just one win to show for it, but you certainly can't judge a pitcher based on wins alone. Sale sports a 1.25 ERA and microscopic 0.74 WHIP to go along with 29 strikeouts in 21.2 innings. He's gone at least 7.0 innings in all three of his starts. When the Red Sox signed David Price to a seven-year, $217 contract last offseason, they did so with the hope he'd be dominant much like Sale has been so far. While Sale's strong start shouldn't be used as ammo against Price, it's hard not to compare the two. In his first season, Price was effective but failed to take his game to the dominant "ace" level. Sale has had no issues so far transitioning from Chicago to Boston and playing for a team and fan base that can bring added pressure that some players can't handle. Sale is all business, and business is booming.
More of Moreland
When the Red Sox signed former Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland to a one-year deal this offseason, it didn’t make much news. But Moreland was actually coming off a Gold Glove 2016 season at first base, unseating the three-time winner Eric Hosmer. Moreland spent the first seven years of his MLB career with the Rangers before signing with the Red Sox, and it’s safe to say that he’s a fan of his new surroundings. Moreland is batting .333 (.429 OBP) with a home run, nine doubles, and five RBI through 13 games for Boston. You can’t expect him to lead the Sox offense all season, but it appears he’s more than just a good glove.