With Player’s Weekend approaching, you’ve probably started mulling over a jersey purchase. I, for one, am eyeing that Laser Shower jersey, which is the an A+ nickname, Matt, YOU FOOL!
Sorry about that.
However, as much as these jerseys have bright colors and cool names on the back, they still don’t have the prestige of the player shirt. So instead of dropping 200 duckets on a jersey that will become as dated as a 90s sitcom before the 2018 season, why not do a little spending on a classic that never goes out of style no matter what my girlfriend says.
First, a reminder of the ground rules. Only players on the 40-man roster with at least 10 plate appearances or 10 innings pitched will be considered, except for some special circumstances like injuries or recent call ups. Most statistics do not include Boston’s matchup with Cleveland on Monday night.
38. Ben Taylor (Previously ranked 35)
Wait. Isn’t this Pablo Sandoval’s spot? Nope. Not anymore. He was cut and signed with his old team, the Giants. So congratulations (?), Ben, you are last on the rankings by default.
37. Josh Rutledge (30)
Rutledge is unfortunately on the 60-day DL and its unlikely he’ll get a ton of playing time if and when he comes back with how well Eduardo Nunez and Rafael Devers are working out.
36. Marco Hernandez (34)
Hernandez is also on the 60-day DL and he’s not supposed to be back at any point this year.
35. Hector Velazquez (25)
He posted a 4.08 ERA in 17 2⁄3 innings during sporadic work in May, June and July but he’s not with the big league club right now.
34. Blaine Boyer (24)
Boyer has been a nice arm in the bullpen, but is currently on the 10-day DL. At 36-years-old and with an injury, a Boyer shirt is one that will fill out your 2017 collection but doesn’t have any long-term value beyond that.
33. Brian Johnson (32)
Johnson hasn’t pitched for the Red Sox since July 18 but we’ll always have that complete game shutout in May.
32. Tyler Thornburg (33)
He still hasn’t pitched and he’s not coming back this year, but you can always dream for next year. Its a gamble, but maybe one worth taking? Probably not.
31. Steven Wright (27)
Injuries suck. Wright’s stock dropped dramatically when he started off poorly this season and fell even further once he hit the DL for the year.
30. Robby Scott
Scott has pitched to a 3.86 ERA in 43 games this season. Not bad.
29. Carson Smith (31)
Smith has begun his rehab work and its been OK so far. He might be back soon and your faith will be rewarded.
28. Fernando Abad (23)
Abad has been the only lefty out of the pen a few times this season and he’s been pretty good, with a 2.91 ERA in 34 innings.
27. Brandon Workman (NR)
Why is Workman, who has only thrown 23 innings this season, ahead of Abad? Well, there’s his work in 2013. A World Series team member always gets some leeway. Plus he has worked his way back into a regular role lately, as he has appeared in five games in August and 14 total since the All-Star break. Plus he has a 1.57 ERA.
26. Doug Fister (22)
Has Fister been excellent? No. A 5.56 ERA and 4.90 FIP show that. But he has been valuable as a spot starter who can eat up innings as the Red Sox continue to deal with injuries to the rotation. Plus, he was actually pretty good in his last two starts before last night.
25. Tzu-Wei Lin (19)
We had a fun few weeks with Lin. He was a pretty solid stopgap at third base until the Red Sox were saved by Nunez, as he slashed .280/.379/.360 in 19 games. He’s only 23 so there’s time left for him to eventually become a regular outside of Pawtucket.
24. Sam Travis (13)
It’s too bad Travis can’t play third base because he would have gotten a load of playing time if he could. I still believe in Travis’ power, even if he didn’t hit a home run in 50 plate appearances at the MLB level. Hopefully next time he gets called up will be for good.
23. Chris Young (26)
Young is a 33-year-old backup outfielder who has been serviceable but nothing special for the Red Sox. But on Aug. 6 he went 3-for-4 with two home runs and five RBI. Time to buy high(ish)!
22. Heath Hembree (17)
The second-most utilized arm in the bullpen by games pitched, Hembree is just a fun guy to root for. What else can you say about a guy whose nickname is “Heater.”
21. Brock Holt (28)
The Brock Star! Another excellent nickname to people who like fun. He’s only slashing .228/.297/.2263 in his last 22 games but he’s still the same utility player we know and love.
20. Addison Reed (NR)
The newest addition to the Red Sox, Reed has been pretty bad in a Boston uniform. After melting down on Friday night, Reed has a 10.38 ERA in six games for the Sox, but he did pitching to a 2.57 ERA in 48 games with the Mets before that, so don’t cast him away just yet. Especially since he will be a key part of the bullpen for the rest of the year.
19. Eduardo Rodriguez (11)
E-Rod is healthy again and back in the rotation. He has been iffy since his return but once he rounds back into form, he’ll be much higher on this list.
18. Sandy Leon (21)
A two-spot boost for the catcher that lines up so well with Chris Sale. Obviously Sale would be pitching well no matter who was behind the plate, but Leon has been an excellent battery mate and that’s worth a whole lot, even if it doesn’t show up in WAR or what have you.
17. Joe Kelly (10)
A hamstring injury kept Kelly out for a while but he came back and pitched a shutout inning of relief on Aug. 9 against the Rays. He still has that sparkling ERA (1.66) backed up by a 276 ERA+ and solid FIP (3.35), although he did struggle a bit against the Yankees over the weekend. His workload will likely be cut now that Reed is in the mix, but he’s still an important part of the bullpen.
16. Matt Barnes (15)
Even with Reed on the team, Barnes has continued to be John Farrell’s favorite arm outside of Craig Kimbrel. Barnes has thrown 56 2/3 innings this season and has a FIP of 3.03. He’s definitely frustrated at times, but there’s no denying he has been one of the most frequent Red Sox on the field and most of the time that’s been a good thing.
15. Hanley Ramirez (14)
Hanley is tied for the team lead in home runs (18) but he has been a pretty much league average hitter (102 OPS+). He’s also been pretty dreadful since the All-Star break (.219/.306/.406), which led to a demotion in the lineup for a handful of games.
14. Rick Porcello (18)
Porcello led the AL in wins last season and now he is leading it in losses, as well as hits. Still, its those games where he suddenly pitches well (like his last two starts against the Rays) that makes him a player you can’t just cast aside.
13. Mitch Moreland (6)
He’s slashing just .183/.250/.329 since the All-Star break but he also did this.
Plus he has an awesome nickname. Mitchy Two Bags is still a player whose shirt I’d like.
12. David Price (7)
Price is only here because an injury flared back up, which makes buying his shirt a bit riskier since he has had some injury issues throughout this season. I am still firmly on team Price otherwise, especially since he was starting to pitch very well before hitting the DL.
11. Christian Vazquez (20)
10. Jackie Bradley Jr. (5)
9. Eduardo Nunez (NR)
I’m pretty sure Nunez has never gotten out in a Red Sox uniform. OK, maybe he hasn’t been that good, but a .365/.403/.651 slash line is incredible. It’s probably not sustainable but trading for him was clearly a smart move and he’s the second most exciting new player on this list.
8. Drew Pomeranz (12)
Maybe if we don’t say anything, Pomeranz will keep pitching like a Cy Young contender. Since the All-Star break he has a 2.89 ERA in 37 1/3 innings and he is most certainly the second-best healthy starter on the team right now.
7. Xander Bogaerts (4)
Another second half swoon is deteriorating Bogaerts’ 2017 campaign. He is slashing just .181/.238/.213 in the second half and the power he finally seemed to find last year has been nowhere to be found. He’s still a big part of the young core, but some other exciting youngsters have surpassed him right now.
6. Dustin Pedroia (8)
Even if he’s been on and off the DL a few times this year, Pedroia has been his usual self when he’s been healthy and if you don’t get his shirt now then — WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!
5. Andrew Benintendi (9)
Seniority is the only reason Benintendi is higher than Devers. The Red Sox’s starting left fielder was the Devers of 2016 and he’s been just fine, even pretty great, in 2017. High expectations have made it seem like he has been less than, but I wouldn’t call his 1.9 bWAR bad and considering how well he’s played in August (.457/.524/.886), I’d say he’s only getting better.
4. Rafael Devers (NR)
Down 1-2 and with Aroldis Chapman on the mound 60 feet and six inches away on Sunday night, Devers stood in there and delivered a game-tying home run that broke more than a few Yankee fan hearts. That at-bat tells the story of how Devers, the 20-year-old third base prospect who wasn’t supposed to come up this year, has solved the Red Sox’s problem at the hot corner. Slashing .328/.391/.586 through 64 plate appearances, Devers is a star in the making. The only reason not to get his shirt is because you think he’ll change is number like many rookies do once they are established.
Oh yeah, and then he went off and hit two homer runs on Monday.
3. Mookie Betts (3)
Betts is still having a great year, as he ranks second on the team in bWAR (5.1). A five-win player at this point in the season is a star no matter how you slice it, but since he’s having an “off” year by the standards he set in 2016, he’s down just a bit.
2. Craig Kimbrel (2)
A closer that is third on the team in bWAR must be doing something special. Although he has been a little bit more prone to allowing runs since the second half began, he is still striking out nearly half the batters he has faced and is still about as sure a thing as there is in the league right now.
1. Chris Sale (1)
Maybe you thought after Sale struggled against Cleveland on Aug. 1 that he would be dethroned. I’d say 25 strikeouts over his two starts since would make you think otherwise.