In football, the saying goes if you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have any. Last year, the Red Sox fell into a similar trap at first base. But this season, the position has been a major strength despite two guys sharing time at the post.
Hanley Ramirez is crushing baseballs. Entering Tuesday, he led or was tied for the lead among Red Sox players in home runs (three) and RBI (15), but then Mookie Betts went crazy. Still, Hanley has been great. In addition, he had a 159 OPS+ before Tuesday, is stealing bases somehow and now has a triple slash .327/.377/.545 that would make Mike Trout look twice. Ramirez has played 10 games at first base and four as DH. To say that he is in the midst of a bounce back season is a huge understatement. Ramirez slashed .242/.320/.429 and was a below average hitter by OPS+ measurements a year ago. When Alex Cora decided to bat Ramirez third in the lineup, there was some scoffing from outside the clubhouse. Those scoffs have dried up now, especially as he’s held his own in the field.
Ramirez’s elite-level hitting has meant that Mitch Moreland’s playing time has suffered. Moreland has 31 plate appearances and has only started in six games. But he is an overqualified backup, even if he was the starter a year ago. Obviously, J.D. Martinez’s addition to the team has eaten up DH time and with Ramirez raking, the Sox have had to keep him in the lineup. That has made Moreland the odd man out right now, but he’s still hit four doubles and slashed .296/.387/.444. He was on a five-game hitting streak before walking in his lone appearance last night. During that streak he has slashed .444/.500/.667. He has been worth 0.1 fWAR, which isn’t great but if he continues to be a backup, that’s just fine, since being just a bit above replacement level as a replacement is, well, fitting.
What this all means is the Red Sox’s depth at first base is in good shape and that’s without even mentioning Sam Travis is still waiting in the minors. Its a big difference from a year ago.
Even though he struggled a bit last night and left early with a blister, Shohei Ohtani is setting the baseball world on fire. In an alternate timeline, he would have done it for the Red Sox a year ago. (Rob Bradford; WEEI)
But the Sox also made a play, albeit an unsuccessful one, to sign Ohtani this past offseason. (Alex Speier; Boston Globe)
Mookie Betts is giving Mike Trout a run for his money. (Nick Cafardo; Boston Globe)
David Price returned to the hill last night and was effective in five innings, allowing just one run on three hits while striking out six. It was just another strong outing by the starting rotation. (Michael Silverman; Boston Herald)
Rick Porcello’s resurgence has been a big part of the pitching dominance. (Peter Abraham; Boston Globe)
Drew Pomeranz wants to stay in Boston. (Christopher Smith; MassLive)