So, the start of the season hasn’t exactly gone the way anyone expected it to. Outside of the ring ceremony and seeing Gronk throwing out a first pitch, it seems as if nothing has gone right for this Red Sox team. We need to bring the mood up a bit or else we’ll all go mad. That’s why I’m here: to point out a few positives in the midst of a tough stretch.
1) Mitch Moreland
Good ol’ Mitchy two-bags has been raking to start the season, and it’s scary to think about where this team would be without his bat. His slash line currently sits at .257/.350/.686, and his hard hit-rate is up almost 12 percentage points from last year’s mark in the very early going. His fly-ball rate is also up 7% from last year and his launch angle has increased significantly, but do keep in mind we’re dealing with a very small sample size and this could be mere randomness. Nonetheless, Mitch has still been mashing, and he’s been almost directly responsible for the only three Red Sox wins we’ve seen.
2) J.D. Martinez
I’d go through changes in JD’s fly-ball rate, or launch angle, or hard-hit rate, but there aren’t any; he’s just crushing the ball like he usually does. In 47 PA, his wRC+ is 152 and his OPS sits at .936. Not too shabby, and exactly what we expect from him every year. One thing of note is that he currently holds a strikeout rate of 11.8 percent, much lower than his career average of 24% and almost half of where it was in 2018. I would definitely say this has to do with a small sample size, but perhaps he has changed his approach a bit. At the very least it’s something to watch moving forward. He’s swinging at pitches in the strike zone at a career-high rate, in addition to swinging at pitches outside of the strike zone at a rate four percentage points lower than 2018. It remains to be seen if this approach lasts long-term, but it’s good to see Martinez off to the races after a slow start last year.
3) Blake Swihart
Swihart has seen just 19 plate appearances in 2019 thus far, but he’s made the most of them. He’s reached safely seven times, and out of 12 batted balls, 2 of them have been ‘barrels’. Also, there’s been worry about his defense dating back to 2015, but so far seems to be holding his own thus far.
Some catcher ranks so far— Red Sox Stats (@redsoxstats) April 8, 2019
1. 86.4 mph Maldonado
2. 86.2 mph Realmuto
3. 86.0 mph Swihart
1. 0.65 exchange Wolters
2. 0.68 exchange Swihart
1. 1.88 pop time Realmuto
2. 1.91 pop time Swihart
With Sandy León in the minors, the Sox have no choice but to continue to play Swihart, which should reap benefits for them, particularly if he can continue to show growth with more and more consistent playing time.
Well, that’s about it. Mookie has been solid, but not great. The bullpen has looked fine as well, although that’s partly by default because most of the games have been out of hand by the time the starter has walked off the mound. However, I fully believe the upcoming four-game series with Baltimore has the potential to be a sweep and serve as a step in the right direction in this young season. We’re here for positivity, right?