With the NBA and NHL seasons officially in the books, baseball now has the bulk of the national sports spotlight. That means its time to pack up that Celtics sweatshirt or Bruins beanie for the summer and start sporting your Boston Red Sox gear, if you haven’t been already.
Another month has passed and the Red Sox are still at, or at least near, the top of the MLB heap. Despite some injury issues, a surprise departure of a fan favorite and the occasional lapse in offense, this team is so very good. That means this is a team you want merchandise from and I’m here to tell you just which player shirts (the G.OA.T. of team merch) you should be using those winnings from your trip to New Jersey on.
As always, this is not necessarily a ranking of the worst to best player, but more a snapshot of who has been capturing most Red Sox fan’s imagination. Success on the field still plays a part but its not the only part. Now that two months have passed, a player must have at least 40 plate appearances or 14 innings pitched at the MLB level, with a few exceptions due to injury, in order to qualify. All stats are updated as of June 9 at 12:41 p.m.
28. Marcus Walden (28)
If Walden was a young prospect with a long career ahead of him, he would be higher, but the 29-year-old has thrown a total of 14 2⁄3 innings this season and looks destined for a career of spot relieving.
27. Carson Smith (Previously 24)
Smith is on the DL with a right shoulder issue right now. He hasn’t pitched since May 14. Even when he has, the results have been just OK. He has the potential to skyrocket back up later this season, but for now he just seems like a slightly above average, injury prone reliever.
26. Tyler Thornburg (26)
The difference between Smith and Thornburg is potential. We’ve seen what Smith can do. Even if Thornburg still hasn’t pitched even one inning with the Red Sox, there is the chance he finally returns from injury and is amazing. Or terrible. Or just OK. Its a toss up, but you can always bet on the upside.
25. Brian Johnson (27)
Johnson has fit the roles of spot starter, long reliever and regular reliever, but with just average success.
24. Heath Hembree (NR)
Matt thinks Hembree is solid, but solid doesn’t make me want to open up the purse string.
23. Sandy Leon (19)
A perfectly serviceable backup catcher for a team that is full of them.
22. Drew Pomeranz (15)
Pomeranz has been awful in his first eight starts this season, with an ERA of 6.81. Currently on the 10-day DL, the lefty has plummeted in the rankings, but will hopefully get back up there later this summer.
21. Blake Swihart (25)
He’s finally starting to get playing time, even some at catcher. You just have to be careful because there’s always the chance he could get traded.
20. Eduardo Nunez (23)
Nunez has walked a total of five times in 225 plate appearances. Five times. Leon has four in 87 plate appearances and Swihart has six in 63. I guess I’m still holding on to his awesome second half from last year.
19. Matt Barnes (20)
18. Christian Vazquez (18)
Nobody pimps their first home run of the season in June like Christian Vazquez. He literally only hits game-tying or go-ahead home runs in the late innings. It’s incredible. pic.twitter.com/ZSFVzVNV9X— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) June 3, 2018
17. Brock Holt (21)
This is the best version of Holt. He’s hitting well (.306/.384/.449), playing all over and continuing his best friendship with Andrew Benintendi.
16. Hanley Ramirez (10)
THE RED SOX MAY HAVE CUT HIM BUT I NEVER WILL. S U M M E R O F H A N L E Y FOREVER!
15. Rafael Devers (7)
Devers is finally showing his age, With an OPS+ of just 82 right now, he has been 18 percent worse than league average, with his production sliding each month. He’ll turn it around eventually, but it may not be quite the time to anoint him the next Sox star like we thought.
14. Hector Velazquez (16)
Someone explain to me why Velazquez and his 1.99 ERA aren’t getting more starts, especially when Pomeranz is on the DL.
13. Jackie Bradley Jr. (11)
The hitting has not still been there, but he can still make catches that seem impossible. That’s pretty much the refrain every month.
12. Eduardo Rodriguez (17)
I hoe E-Rod can save some fantasy seasons.
11. Dustin Pedroia (13)
This is your monthly reminder that you should already have a Pedroia player shirt. He came back briefly from the DL but is back on it once more, but, again, you should already have his shirt.
10. Joe Kelly (9)
Kelly has had two bad outings in June, allowing four earned runs in 1 1⁄3 innings combined, but he gave up just one run in all of May.
9. Rick Porcello (6)
Porcello is having a fine season, with a FIP of 3.31 and an ERA of 3.59. Winning a Cy Young Award may have unfairly elevated everyone’s expectations of him, but if he pitches like he has this season then he’s doing just fine.
8. David Price (8)
I love David Price and I don’t care who knows it. I think I’ve made that pretty clear.
7. Mitch Moreland (14)
Don’t you want to have a Moreland shirt when he starts at first base in the All-Star game?
6. Craig Kimbrel (5)
After a few missteps in early May, Kimbrel has gotten right back to dominating and slamming doors on opponents.
5. Xander Bogaerts (2)
Bogaerts isn’t slugging above .600 like he was last time we did this, but he’s still playing some mean shortstop for the Red Sox. He’s still 25, so there are plenty more years like this in store. Don’t forget that.
4. Chris Sale (3)
How about we all agree to never doubt Chris Sale? After he had some “struggles” (LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL), he went out and struck out 10 in eight innings while throwing hard as heck last night. If only the bats had helped him out.
3. Andrew Benintendi (12)
Benintendi has turned the corner. Be afraid, rest of the AL.
Over the last 20 days, Andrew Benintendi has an OPS of 1.292, the best mark by any qualified hitter in that span pic.twitter.com/wCoiu0cxAo— Baseball Reference (@baseball_ref) June 8, 2018
2. J.D. Martinez (4)
If you like home runs, J.D. Martinez is the player shirt for you. He already has 20 this year and will probably hit six more between when I write this and when it gets posted.
1. Mookie Betts (1)
He is still on the DL but when you are the best player on the team and possibly the AL (non-Mike Trout division), you don’t lose your No. 1 spot.