It is unbelievably hot out. The time for long sleeves is over and it has been for a month or two. But the temperatures we have been enduring make even the least sleeveless among us sweat. While going without any sleeves at all might be nice, we are still a society. There are rules. So as you decide what t-shirts to wear out into the scorching lava world we live in now, make sure you are picking ones that are stylish, show off your personality (aka favorite baseball team) and have a name and number on the back.
For the Red Sox, this season is going to stretch on into October. They have a 99.9 percent chance of making the playoffs according to FanGraphs. That is as close as you can get to a lock. Even if that wasn’t true, you’ll probably still wear some Sox gear after the season ends. That means you will be wearing these t-shirts I’m talking about for months, possibly years, including when you have to start wearing layers when pumpkin spice and cold air invade. If you are going to add one (or more) player shirts to your collection, here’s how they rank.
For this exercise, only players with at least 50 plate appearances or 15 innings pitched will be considered, aside from a few exceptions. All statistics are from prior to action on July 8.
28. Carson Smith (Previously 27)
Smith may not be a Red Sox after this year. He is eligible for arbitration this winter and is out for the rest of this season. Smith has been ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ this season when healthy, but with all the uncertainty, you must really like Smith to rock his T now.
27. Brandon Workman (NR)
It’s an old friend who has worked himself back into the bullpen mix. Worked. He worked his way. Do you get it? DO YOU GET IT?!
He may only have 13 1/3 innings pitched, but he will surpass the 15-inning threshold very soon and he has pitched very well so far since returning to the MLB team. Obviously, Workman is not going to be a franchise cornerstone any time soon, if at all, so don’t shell out a ton for his shirt, but shell out some.
26. Steve Pearce (NR)
The newest addition to the roster, Pearce came over in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays. Pearce has been an above average player for most of his career and has batted .389 in 18 plate appearance in a Red Sox uniform. If you really want a shirt of a trade acquisition, stay tuned because the Red Sox are sure to make a bigger trade before the deadline.
25. Blake Swihart (21)
Someone give Blake Swihart a chance to play regular baseball already. Its clearly not going to be the Red Sox.
24. Drew Pomeranz (22)
Oh good. Pomeranz made his first rehab start and is nearing his ret—- oh goodness. One start doesn’t mean Pomeranz won’t return to form, especially after he improved in his second rehab start, but the injuries and his 6.81 ERA this season have made it harder to rep his name on your back.
23. Brian Johnson (25)
Brian Johnson is a useful MLB pitcher. He has a 2.55 ERA in his last seven outings and has eaten innings and been a reliable guy in the bullpen. That’s worth a purchase for the financially fortunate, even if Johnson was just put on the 10-day DL.
22. Joe Kelly (10)
Oh Jim Buchanan, please come back to being the heat-hurling, brawl participating hero from earlier this season. I wrote a few weeks ago about the struggles Kelly is having and things have not gotten better.
21. Christian Vazquez (18)
All three of Vazquez’s home runs this season were hit in June, so his power is improving? That’s tough to say about a guy with a 47 OPS+ for the year. Unfortunately, an injury will limit his play time even more.
20. Sandy Leon (23)
Leon is being creative with the pitches he swings at. I like to give points for creativity. He also leads all Red Sox catchers in OPS+ (89) and even though Vazquez has more of a future because he is younger and signed an extension recently, Leon has just been better.
19. Tyler Thornburg (26)
Thornburg was finally activated on Wednesday after 100 years of waiting. He was forgettable in his Red Sox debut on Friday, but let’s be optimistic and say he will be a top 20 player on the roster.
18. Heath Hembree (24)
As Kelly has descended, Hembree has improved. With an ERA+ of 123 and only two earned runs allowed since June started, Hembree is rising on the bullpen depth chart.
17. Eduardo Nunez (20)
Speaking of improving, Nunez is doing just that.
16. Hector Velazquez (14)
Velazquez leads all Red Sox relievers in innings pitched and he should. He has a 159 ERA+ and despite allowing too many base runners and failing to rack up tons of strikeouts, he’s just been effective.
15. David Price (8)
Greetings from your friendly, neighborhood David Price stan. Even I can’t deny that Price has been struggling the last few weeks. He has a 5.08 ERA in his seven starts since June began and has fallen below league average (99 ERA+) for the season as a whole. Come on, David. I (and maybe only I) believe in you.
14. Dustin Pedroia (11)
It’s a scary thought, but Pedroia’s career may be nearing the end of the line, at least if you’re expecting him to be the All Star second baseman who plays every day. Injuries suck.
13. Brock Holt (17)
12. Matt Barnes (19)
Last time, we said that Matt Barnes should be the eighth inning guy. He certainly is now. He is second in the bullpen in ERA+ behind Craig Kimbrel. That’s pretty darn good.
11. Jackie Bradley Jr. (13)
DEFENSE IS FUN AND IMPORTANT. DO NOT @ ME.
.@JackieBradleyJr is a bad man. pic.twitter.com/YqEGu7yB9m— MLB (@MLB) July 1, 2018
10. Rafael Devers (15)
Devers was sitting at 0.0 bWAR entering play on Sunday. Games like he had against the Yankees on June 30 are why he’s still a top 10 player. He went 5-for-5 with a grand slam in that one. As long as he keeps crushing the Yankees, he’s doing just fine in my book.
9. Mitch Moreland (7)
Moreland is an All-Star. I told you.
8. Eduardo Rodriguez (12)
Price and Pomeranz were supposed to be the No. 2 and No. 3 starters on this team, but they haven’t been. That’s just fine because of what the Sox have gotten from Rick Porcello (more on him later) and E-Rod. The young lefty is third among starters in ERA+ and just polished off six shutout innings against the Nationals.
7. Craig Kimbrel (6)
You don’t hear a lot about Kimbrel. That’s a good thing. When your closer is just quietly taking care of business, he’s doing his job right.
6. Andrew Benintendi (3)
Benintendi is having the best season of his very brief MLB career. He is only six home runs from matching his total from last year and he fits so well as the No. 2 hitter in the lineup. He’s also flashing some fine leather in the outfield.
Beautiful catch from Andrew Benintendi at a very clutch time. pic.twitter.com/qZKeQZAIm7— Crooked Numbers Podcast (@Crooked_Numbers) June 29, 2018
5. Rick Porcello (9)
Porcello can pitch, sure, but he is also out there smashing RBI doubles off the best pitcher in baseball not named Chris Sale.
4. Xander Bogaerts (5)
Everyone is hitting home runs for the Red Sox and the X-Man is no different. He just hit his 14th on Friday. That power is real.
3. Chris Sale (4)
BRING ME THE CY YOUNG AWARD NOW.
2. J.D. Martinez (2)
But. His. Defense.
But his defense pic.twitter.com/q03fo9vnf3— OverTheMonster (@OverTheMonster) July 8, 2018
1. Mookie Betts (1)
Betts leads the majors in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS. He has already been worth 4.8 wins. What can’t he do? The answer is nothing.