clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Texas Rangers v Boston Red Sox

Filed under:

Red Sox Player Power Rankings: All-Star Game Edition

The All-Star Game is just a few days away and the halfway point of the season is in the rearview mirror. That means it’s time for an update to our player power rankings.

Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Major League Baseball’s inclusion of a representative from each team in the All-Star Game creates an interesting tradition. While some teams will end up with half a lineup of players on the roster, other teams will ultimately settle for a single guy. As you can imagine, less successful teams often fall into the latter category; and for a great many of these teams, their representative will end up being a reliever having a surprisingly good season who isn’t really a “star” by the strictest definition. I’m talking Mark Redman for the 2006 Kansas City Royals or Joe Jiménez for the 2018 Detroit Tigers.

The 2023 Boston Red Sox are far from a bad team, but they are certainly more middle of the road than playoff contender. To that point, unlike many other years when they would send multiple players to the All-Star Game (like when they sent three a year ago), including multiple starters sometimes, this year’s Red Sox have just one representative headed to Seattle: closer Kenley Jansen. In fairness, Jansen is no journeyman reliever, as this will be his fourth All-Star Game appearance, and he’s having a solid season. But the fact that the Red Sox couldn’t get anyone else on the roster for the American League speaks to where the team stands near the midpoint of the season. Instead of being a powerhouse with multiple stars, they’re a team sending a single reliever.

Moving past the much larger conversation about the Red Sox as a franchise, even though Jansen is getting that All-Star nod, he hasn’t been the best or most important player on the Red Sox through the first three months of the season. So, to determine where everyone falls in the pecking order, it’s time for our monthly update to our 2023 Boston Red Sox Player Power Rankings.

As a note, this edition will be a little different. Whereas April and May’s rankings were based solely on performance in each month, these rankings are based on a mix of performance in the entire first half (plus a few days) as well as in June alone. While the metrics we’re using are changing slightly, eligibility is not. Players were only considered for this ranking if they made at least one appearance at the MLB level with the Red Sox in June and are still on the roster. That means we have to say goodbye to Raimel Tapia (ranked No. 18 in May), Richard Bleier (ranked No. 28 in May) and Joely Rodríguez (ranked No. 31 in May). Tapia was cut from the team, so it’s a permanent goodbye for him, but Bleier and Rodríguez lost their spots because injuries kept them out all of June. Of course, the Red Sox have a cavalcade of folks on the injured list right now, but a few banged up guys will be on the rankings because they made an impact in June.

OK, that’s enough preamble. Let’s get to the rankings.

36. Bobby Dalbec (Previous Rank: 32)

Dalbec is clinging onto a spot in the rankings on a technicality. He appeared in two games in June and recorded a single plate appearance. Now, who decided these eligibility rules?

35. Ryan Sherriff (Previous Rank: 27)

Sherriff pitched a handful of games in late May and early June and got sent back to Triple-A. In that limited time, he had a 2.70 ERA and 4.22 FIP in 6 2/3 innings.

34. Tayler Scott (Previous Rank: Not Ranked)

OK, so I’m cheating on the eligibility, but Scott, a 31-year-old journeyman reliever, made his Red Sox debut on July 4 and since he’s still on the roster and we’re posting a week into July, we’ll fudge it a little.

Miami Marlins v Boston Red Sox Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images

33. Caleb Hamilton (Previous Rank: Not Ranked)

With Reese McGuire on the shelf, the Red Sox have turned to Hamilton as a backup backstop for Connor Wong. Hamilton has only had six plate appearances to this point, making his Red Sox debut on June 24.

. . . aaaand, he’s gone, released for Jorge Alfaro. So long, Caleb!

32. Corey Kluber (Previous Rank: 25)

We have a larger pool for the rankings this month (36 players versus 32 in May), so falling backward doesn’t necessarily mean a player has played poorly. Unfortunately, Kluber’s season has just gotten worse and worse, with his transition to the bullpen as disastrous as his time as a starter. Currently one of many Red Sox pitchers on the IL, let’s hope this isn’t how it ends for the Klubot.

31. Enmanuel Valdez (Previous Rank: 20)

Valdez provided some fun moments at the plate after getting called up in April, but his poor defense and overall lack of polish at the plate sent him back to the minors after he recorded a -37 wRC+ across 14 plate appearances in June.

30. Kaleb Ort (Previous Rank: Not Ranked)

Ort was banished to the minors at the end of April, but the Red Sox’s dwindling pitching staff necessitated his return. Ort was making the most of the opportunity, posting a sub 3.00 ERA in seven appearances in June, but he’s already given up three earned runs in 1 13 innings in July.

29. Enrique Hernández (Previous Rank: 22)

It just isn’t working for Hernández, who has been terrible all season and has yet to show any signs of pulling out of this season-long swamp. Thanks to putrid numbers at the plate (65 wRC+) and shoddy defense, Hernández is dead last on the team in fWAR (-1.1) and was last in June as well (-0.6). Despite this, he’s still getting regular playing time (84 plate appearances in June). Maybe the All-Star break will be the time he needs to get things sorted out.

28. Justin Garza (Previous Rank: 24)

Garza started strong after coming up in May, but he has faded over his last few outings, posting a 7.45 ERA (6.08 FIP) across eight appearances June. Luckily for him, the Red Sox are desperate for arms, so he’s still been getting some action.

27. Pablo Reyes (Previous Rank: 26)

Reyes has been a replacement level utility guy, but he’s currently on the mend from an abdominal issue. All in all, he hasn’t provided much production, but he also hasn’t been a severe detriment, so he didn’t (and shouldn’t) drop or rise that far.

26. Joe Jacques (Previous Rank: Not Ranked)

Jacques is one of five non-Jansen relievers to earn a save for the Red Sox this season. Since debuting for the team in mid-June, he has a sub 2.00 FIP but a 4.70 ERA in 7 2/3 innings.

25. David Hamilton (Previous Rank: Not Ranked)

In an effort to solve their shortstop issue, the Red Sox turned to one of their better prospects in Hamilton. So far, the results have not been great, as Hamilton as a 44 wRC+ in 32 plate appearances at the MLB level since making his MLB debut on June 21.

24. Christian Arroyo (Previous Rank: 25)

The fact that Arroyo moved up (albeit it marginally) in these rankings speaks to the Red Sox’s lack of depth when it comes to positive contributors. Arroyo has a 72 wRC+ on the season and was even worse in June (58 wRC+). In fairness, even at his best, Arroyo is just a bit above league average, but he can’t even get there right now.

Texas Rangers v Boston Red Sox Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

23. Chris Murphy (Previous Rank: Not Ranked)

Murphy is a top 20 Red Sox prospect who has a 1.98 ERA (3.22 FIP) in 13 23 frames since making his MLB debut on June 7. Getting most of his work as a multi-inning reliever, Murphy is likely going to get more work as the Red Sox continue to struggle with injuries to the rotation.

22. Adam Duvall (Previous Rank: Not Ranked)

Duvall’s heroics in the first week of the season are a distant memory, as he has just a 31 wRC+ with a single home run since returning from injury on June 9.

21. Brandon Walter (Previous Rank: Not Ranked)

There’s not much of a book on Walter at the MLB level, but he’s a top 20 Red Sox prospect who fared decently in his MLB debut, allowing three earned runs in 6 23 innings of relief against the Minnesota Twins on June 22. He got shipped back down after that, but is back with the team and tossed a scoreless frame on July 4.

20. Reese McGuire (Previous Rank: 12)

19. Connor Wong (Previous Rank: 10)

Wong and McGuire are two sides of the same coin at catcher for the Red Sox. They’re both hovering in the 80s in terms of wRC+, with McGuire producing more contact and Wong flashing more power. Behind the dish, McGuire is the better framer, but Wong has superior running game skills. With McGuire currently injured, Wong has the starting role to himself, but neither has really made a case to make catcher less of a time-share position when they’re both at full strength.

18. Garrett Whitlock (Previous Rank: 17)

Whitlock can’t seem to get into a groove, largely because of injuries. He only got through a single inning in his last start on July 2 before getting pulled and is now on the 15-day IL with an elbow bruise. Even when he’s been healthy, Whitlock has been an average starter, but there are reasons to think he could progress more rapidly if he could just stay on the mound. He still throws plenty of strikes and avoids walks (3.2 percent walk rate this year) and his peripherals have been better than his 5.23 ERA suggests, particularly in June.

17. Chris Sale (Previous Rank: 2)

Sale climbed to the No. 2 spot in these rankings last month, but mere hours after I hit submit, he got taken out of a start against the Cincinnati Reds in the fourth inning and now he’s on the 60-day IL with shoulder inflammation. At least he was pitching like an ace before this latest malady.

16. Tanner Houck (Previous Rank: 12)

Houck suffered a terrifying injury that has sidelined him for a few weeks when he was struck in the face with a line drive during a start against the New York Yankees on June 16. Prior to the injury, while Houck was far from a shutdown starter, he was at least reliable, as he is still second on the team in games started and innings pitched.

15. Rob Refsnyder (Previous Rank: 9)

Mashing lefties can only take you so far, as Refsnyder has come back down to earth recently, posting a 74 wRC+ in June. In total, Refsnyder has been a solid fourth outfielder, posting a 114 wRc+ for the season while walking at a 13.5 percent clip and playing solid defense.

14. Josh Winckowski (Previous Rank: 14)

Winckowski is one of Cora’s favorite relievers. The 25-year-old is second on the roster in appearances (29) and he’s racked up more than 40 innings pitched. He also has just a 3.28 ERA. However, Winckowski’s profile is a perfect example of the limits of the ERA metric. He has actually produced negative fWAR this season (-0.1) and his low strikeout approach hasn’t been working lately, as evidenced by his 5.73 ERA and 7.47 FIP in June.

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images

13. Nick Pivetta (Previous Rank: 9)

Nick Pivetta has found his new calling or maybe it’s just the small sample size. Who can say?. Either way, the right-hander has a 2.63 ERA and 3.29 FIP since becoming a reliever at the end of May. He likely has more starting work ahead of him, though, with the Red Sox’s rotation currently made up of Brayan Bello, James Paxton and a handful of action figures Alex Cora borrowed from his kids.

12. Brennan Bernardino (Previous Rank: 29)

Bernardino has earned his spot as one of Cora’s most trusted bullpen arms. The southpaw is fourth in appearances among Red Sox pitchers and has posted a 2.70 ERA and 3.22 FIP. Those stellar numbers even include his last two outings, when he combined to let up two earned runs over 2 23 innings.

11. Triston Casas (Previous Rank: 16)

Casas has had a disappointing year, but it looks like he’s finally turning a corner. In June, he tied for the team lead with a 133 wRC+ and really started being more aggressive at the plate, swinging at 73.9 percent of pitches in the zone during the month, up from 68.5 percent on the season overall. That increased swing rate hasn’t led to deteriorating plate discipline either, with Casas still sporting a 12.5 percent walk rate in June. So, despite below average offensive production overall this season, maybe we’re finally seeing Casas come into his own.

10. Kutter Crawford (Previous Rank: 17)

Crawford is the Red Sox’s No. 3 starter... but that’s more out of necessity than anything else. Still, your boy has a sub 4.00 ERA and a 4.32 FIP, barely walks folks and was tied for fourth among Red Sox pitchers in fWAR in June.

9. Chris Martin (Previous Rank: 11)

Despite missing some time at the end of April due to injury, Martin has been a very effective late inning reliever for the Red Sox. With a 1.67 ERA, 2.40 ERA and barely perceptible walk rate, there’s not much to ding about his performance, especially as his work load has been building. Martin threw 10 13 innings in June after amassing 14 23 combined in the first two months of the season. Martin isn’t just getting layups, either, as he has logged 18 13 of his 27 total innings in medium or high leverage situations.

8. Kenley Jansen (Previous Rank: 8)

The Red Sox’s lone All-Star selection has 18 saves, is striking out nearly 11 batters per nine innings and is fourth in fWAR among all Red Sox pitchers. So even if his ERA is a bit higher than might be ideal for a closer (3.34), he’s still the clear leader in the bullpen.

7. Jarren Duran (Previous Rank: 13)

Duran is second on the Red Sox in fWAR this season. Let that sink in. It looked like he might be receding into old habits in May when he had a 78 wRC+, but he got back above 100 in June and is off to a scorching start to July. When you put it all together, he’s slashing .309/.358/.491 and his incredible speed has helped boost his game even more, as he already has 16 stolen bases. Sure, his .421 batting average on balls in play isn’t sustainable and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is roughly the same as a year ago, but for now, Duran has a half season of effective play under his belt. You can’t knock him for that.

6. Masataka Yoshida (Previous Rank: 1)

Yoshida has had really high highs mixed with some middling valleys, but his first three months in MLB have been a success overall. Yoshida was merely an average offensive player in June, netting a 102 wRC+ during the month. But he still leads the team in wRC+ on the season (136) and continues to get the bat on the ball even after a slight uptick in his strikeout rate in June.

Boston Red Sox v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images

5. Justin Turner (Previous Rank: 4)

The power is back for Turner, who has already matched his season long home run total from a year ago after launching six bombs last month alone. Thanks to the power surge, Turner had a very strong June, recording a 131 wRC+ and slashing .288/.336/.529, which isn’t too far off from his production for the year to this point (.282/.354/.461, 121 wRC+).

4. Rafael Devers (Previous Rank: 5)

Devers has come out of the dive he suffered in May and is back to being a star. Too bad it didn’t happen before All Star voting wrapped up. Devers launched another six homers in June, adding to his team-leading total (20) and perhaps even more encouragingly, he started taking more walks. Considering Devers has a higher wRC+ in July than any other month during his career, we might be in for quite the spectacle in the next few weeks.

3. James Paxton (Previous Rank: 7)

James Paxton didn’t seem like the guy to bet on to be the ace of the staff at the halfway mark, but that’s just what Big Maple has been. He leads all Red Sox pitchers in fWAR (1.4) despite making only nine starts while logging a 2.70 ERA and 3.29 FIP and striking out more than 30 percent of the batters he’s faced. If not for missing some time to start the year, Paxton would likely be No. 1 on this list.

2. Alex Verdugo (Previous Rank: 3)

Verdugo has been the Red Sox’s metronome this season. In the midst of Turner and Devers sending missiles over the fence and Paxton and Bello forming a lethal one-two combination at the top of the rotation, Verdugo led the Red Sox in fWAR in June while tying for the team lead in wRC+ (133) with Casas. But he didn’t just have a nice June, as he also tops the roster in fWAR for the season overall and has had at least a 115 wRC+ in all three months. Too bad this isn’t just an exercise is ranking folks by fWAR.

1. Brayan Bello (Previous Rank: 6)

Bello has been a godsend and has figured out this whole MLB pitching thing right when the Red Sox needed him. Now if only they had three other starters like him. Following another seven-inning effort on Wednesday (his fourth in his last five outings), Bello is now sporting a 3.04 ERA and 3.78 FIP and that’s without the elite strikeout stuff he displayed in the minor leagues. This ranking is built as much on Bello’s performance as it is on his potential because as good as he’s been, he could get even better, and that’s deserving of the top spot.

Note: Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are from before games on July 6.

Game 160: Red Sox at Orioles

OTM Open Thread 9/29-10/1: It is Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

Dominoes Begin to Fall into Place