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Batting Cleanup, Devers’s Underutilization Mounting

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Red Sox Talk: Batting Cleanup, Devers’s Underutilization Mounting

Here is a not so hot-take Red Sox fans: Rafael Devers is currently the team’s best player! Conversely, he’s not even close to performing to his full potential. The reason for this is the 20-year-old third baseman hasn’t been allowed to. He’s a flourishing power-hitter who hardly finds himself in consequential power-hitting situations. And why is that? It’s simply because John Farrell is incompetent when it comes to the assembly of a batting order.

It appears that before every game, Farrell aimlessly tosses darts at the names of players while he’s blindfolded. This assertion would be more believable if his mishandling of the lineup wasn’t laden with such faulty science.

If It Ain’t Broke

Rafael Devers has been irrefutably our best hitter since he was called up in late-July. Going into Monday’s game: He was handily bolstering a .350 BA with 8 HR’s and has a .700 slugging percentage. These are definitively the stats of a pure-slugger. Where do rare talents like Devers belong in the order? Well according to John Farrell, they appropriately belong in the 6th spot. Yeah, the old 6 hole! That’s where your best hitter can produce at full capacity.

Of the 8 HR’s that the Baby-Face Bambino has hit, 6 of them were solo shots. From that we can deduce that only a ¼ of his dingers were multi-run home runs. This low percentage of RBI’s is clearly a symptom of his poor placement in the order. After all, Devers can’t knock em’ home if there’s no ducks on the pond, when he’s at the plate

6.4 is Rafael Devers’ average spot in the lineup, in the 21 games, he’s played in. That is an insult to an overperforming prospect who needs his tenuous confidence to be stimulated, not doubted. Superficially, one would presume tenure dictates that Devers must “earn his stripes” on this team. Nothing like a little rookie hazing!

Firstly, that’s an obsolete approach to professional sports. Secondly, that’s not Farrell’s reason for governing the growth of this young superstar. No, John Farrell is circumscribed by textbook baseball-science and he is incapable of thinking outside of these margins.

A Certain Science

Almost always, Farrell tries to “counter” the handedness of the opposing starter. For example, Lefty on the mound means he’ll run out a right-handed saturated lineup, and vice versa. This is an overly educated (if there is such a thing) and misguided system of prioritizing that favors handedness over ability.

I swear John Farrell would pinch hit for Giancarlo Stanton in the bottom of the 9th if he was facing a right-handed pitcher.

Rafael Devers should at least be rewarded for his hot start with a chance to bat cleanup. This has to happen before his honeymoon high is extinguished by an inevitable slump. In such a scenario: Nunez could lead things off, followed by Mookie and then a red-hot Benintendi. Devers needs to be granted the opportunity to fail before we assume he will fail. This would be a valuable learning experience, one that would be conducive to growth.

Fans of any sport will tell you that there’s an intangible magic to the game, and to it’s greatest players. That’s why we love sports. What Boston has in John Farrell is a manager who isn’t sensitive nor privy to that “magic”. He has to start reading the barometer of his team and the games in which they play. Believe it or not, some things just can’t be learned in books, John.

Columnist operating out of Manchester, NH. Retired pitcher (unprofessional not amateur). Voracious consumer of all things Celtics and Red Sox. Sometimes I produce content as well.

Boston Red Sox

Bottom Line: Boston Red Sox Need Stanton

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Boston Red Sox Team President Dave Dombrowski isn’t a great talent evaluator. Throughout his entire career, he has built his success by acquiring proven big league talent. Betting on that changing anytime soon is foolish, so why not make another move for proven talent?

Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins has long been rumored to be on the trade block and Boston is just one of his potential destinations. Reports have stated thought that Stanton would prefer a trade to a team like the Dodgers despite “advisers” pushing for Boston.

The Stanton vs Judge potential is enough to get any baseball fans heart racing. But should Boston present Miami a god offer? Some have balked at the potential of trading any more prospects but let me tell you a very well known secret, Boston’s farm system has been pillaged. Jay Groome and Michael Chavis are considered the best two prospects remaining under Dombrowski.

So any thought of depleting the farm system anymore should be tossed out the window as there isn’t much left there, to begin with. On top of that, the current makeup of the team and the organization is winning now, a strategy that is far from working given the current talent in the lineup. Last season the Red Sox lacked true pop in their lineup after the retirement of David Ortiz. Many at the time sold it as the 2015 Royals who nickeled and dimed their way to a world series title. But when it came down to it the 2017 Boston Red Sox lacked balls.

Boston needs a power bat in the heart of their order. Not just for the home runs from that player, but for the protection they would offer the other hitters in the lineup. If you were a pitcher facing the Red Sox last season almost every hitter in the lineup could be pitched too. The only exception might be Hanley Ramirez, but the BIG HR simply was set up to fail to have to step in for Ortiz with no protection around him.

Stanton would instantly bring in pop, lineup protection, and the much needed “it” factor that will help drive fans to the team. Without this type of move, it is hard to see how next season will be any different.

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Boston Red Sox

Minimum Expectations for the 2018 Red Sox

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Last year, it was Chris Sale; in 2016, the exorbitantly expensive David Price was all the hype. Both of these roundly heralded saviors produced the same underwhelming results. Another short-winded trip to the playoffs; another bummer of a year.

The Red Sox simply cannot afford a third consecutive first-round exit, in the 2018 postseason. And it seems that Dave Dombrowski knows this. In an attempt to prevent car-flipping anarchy in the streets, he fired the overseer of all this recent failure (his direct subordinate) – John Farrell.

Now the Sox will be heading into next season with a newfangled remedy. No, it’s not a hundred-million dollar player. This time around, management has received the upgrade. It’s the newly hired manager, Alex Cora, who will be charged with the burden of resurrecting one of the most venerated franchises in professional sports.

On Monday, Cora was formally introduced to Boston as the new manager (or scapegoat).

Good luck, buddy! You’re gonna need it.  

Should Boston fans really expect an appreciable change to be affected by just one man? After all, this is exactly what we’ve done, to no avail, for the past few years. And if Cora really represents the end-all-be-all solution, what is a realistic accomplishment for him, and his club, in the first season of his tenure?

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Boston Red Sox

Like Looking in the Mirror

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Red Sox

After watching the Houston Astros win the 2017 World Series, Red Sox fans deserve to be upset.

Go ahead and sink into your bed of indignance, for a couple of days, and don’t let anyone stop you, Red Sox Nation. You’re safe there.  

The asseveration has lingered on the tip of Boston’s tongue, ever since the ALDS – “That could have been us!” And it’s true, it could have been the Sox hoisting that trophy, on Wednesday night.

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