Welcome to the Red Sox Review series. It’s a fairly standard feature in which we will review the year that was for every player who made a decently large impact on the Red Sox this year. How do we come up with that definition? Completely arbitrarily, of course! The list of players we’re using can be seen here, and if we are missing anyone please let me know in the comments. Anyway, for the players who are included we will wrap up their season in a sentence, look at the positives of their 2018, the negatives, review their One Big Question from the preseason (when applicable!) and look ahead to what’s on the table for 2019. Today, we discuss Hector Velázquez.
The Year in a Sentence
Velázquez was a Swiss Army Knife in that, while he looked weak alongside the power tools of the Sox pitching staff, was characteristically handy throughout a long season.
The story of Velázquez is the story of several of the 2018 Red Sox role players in that, long story short, the ultimate positive is that they got to do their thing here rather than elsewhere, but even grading on this curve, Velázquez is special. He’s the anti-Drew Pomeranz (Sorry, Dwew), in that he’s an unheralded, low-paid righty with below-average stuff, and also of course in that he’s actually effective.
Velázquez made 47 appearances for the Sox, more than everyone except Joe Kelly, Health Hembree, Craig Kimbrel and Matt Barnes. Eight of those were starts. Over the whole shebang he put up a 3.18 ERA. That’s pretty good! You know who didn’t do that? Drew Pomeranz. Or Rick Porcello. Or David Price. Velázquez isn’t as good as them, obviously, but his results were just as good.
He’s 28, and can’t do this forever. He doesn’t strike out enough people and walks too many. But as I’ve repeatedly written in these recaps, it’s hard to label the season negative for any role player who played a meaningful role. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where 2018 isn’t the best professional year of their lives. Velázquez didn’t pitch in the postseason, which can’t feel great, but I can’t imagine he cared during or after the procession of champagne celebrations that was the postseason.
The Big Question
Can Hector Velázquez continue to limit damage on balls in play?
Yep! After 2017 there was some justifiable concern that his 2.97 ERA couldn’t survive a jump in bad luck; his .258 BABIP was far below average, and his FIP, reflecting this, was all the way at 4.58. This year the BABIP swung wildly in the other direction, and opponents hit .325 when they made contact… and nothing changed. His ERA was 3.18 and his FIP was 4.15. How, you might ask, is this even possible? He gave up half as many homers, sacrificing a strikeout per game to do so.
The Year Ahead
I would be shocked if it was anything except more of the same for Velázquez for at least as long as he can keep the ball in the yard. He makes next to nothing, he does about five jobs and does them acceptably well. He’ll never crack the rotation for good, but someone’s got to do the odd jobs, and Velázquez has proven adept at them. If he’s living on borrowed time, we’ll know soon enough. If not, what you see is what you get.