The strength of the Red Sox was without question, their bats. They led the league in hitting with an average of .281. When we didn't hit, we lost. We hit .240 as a team in the LDS. Only San Diego had a worse batting average. We scored a league high 910 runs or 5.617 a game.
Our defense wasn't exactly great. Our fielding percentage of .982 was good for 22nd best in baseball. We had the 7th most errors with 109. That is the highest of any playoff team, tied with San Diego
CF - Johnny Damon
Damon was the catalyst to our offensive machine. He got on base for Ortiz and Ramirez and he was also able to knock in alot of the bottom of the lineup guys. However, Damon started off much better than he finished. He hit .343 before the break and .282 after it. He hit .316 and had an OBP of .365. He hit 10 HRs, which isn't bad for a leadoff man. He knocked in 75 which is terrific for a leadoff hitter and he scored 117 runs. He led the team in steals with 18.
Damon's biggest flaw defensively is his arm. He has good range, can track balls down, and catches anything he gets to. However, opponents frequently were able to take an extra base off Damon's weak throwing arm. The problem wasn't a big deal, but with the pitching staff being so lackluster to begin with, giving away extra bases didn't help much.
SS - Edgar Renteria
Renteria's season, both offensively and defensively, was a big dissapointment. He hit a mere .276 and his OBP was .335. He did manage to score 100 runs. His HR total of 8 was about what I expected from him even if he played well. He has never been much of a power hitter. He was able to knock in 70 runs though which isn't too bad.
Defensively, Edgar was a liability. He led the world in errors with 30. Other than that he was pretty good, but having an error every 5th game from a player who has won Gold Gloves in 2003 and 2002 is extremely dissapointing. Edgar's high salary didn't help things too much, either.
DH - David Ortiz
The biggest part of the offensive machine were the two men in the middle of the lineup. Big Papi had yet another stellar season. He played in all but 3 games, hit .300, knocked in a league leading 148 RBI, and hit 47 HRs, falling only 3 shy of the Red Sox record. He also walked 102 times and had the 4th best OBP in the league at .397. He was 2nd in the league in slugging, 3rd in runs, 3rd in bases, 8th in doubles, 2nd in runs created, 1st in extra base hits, 3rd in times on base, 4th in SAC flies. The fact that he was 7th in intentional walks with 9 hitting in front of Manny Ramirez shows how amazing a hitter he was this season. AL MVP? That's for another post.
LF - Manny Ramirez
Another monster season for Manny. His average wasn't as high as it's been in years past, but it steadily climbed throughout the season. He hit .292 with 45 HRs and 144 RBI. He was second only to Ortiz in the RBI category. He was 7th in OBP, 4th in slugging, 4th in OPS, 7th in runs, 6th in total bases, 6th in walks, 5th in runs created, and 6th in extra base hits. He was an All-Star for the 9th time in his career, and the 8th time in a row.
The one flaw with Manny is his defense. His range is poor, he gets bad jumps, and makes interesting decisions. The two parts of his defensive work that shone this year were his ability to play the Green Monster and his ability to throw runners out. He had a league leading 17 asissts. But he also made 7 errors which is pretty high for an outfielder.
C - Jason Varitek
Varitek started the season off with good offensive production. He hit .301 before the break and .256 after it. He hit most of his HRs before the break. However, his RBIs are nearly the same before and after, his OBP is nearly the same, but his slugging is down about .080 points. He didn't come through in a few big spots, but I really don't think he belonged as a #5 hitter. In fact, the Red Sox were searching for someone in that role all season.
Varitek isn't going to throw many guys out because the Red Sox don't really care much about allowing stolen bases. Tek will, however, call a good game. It was difficult to see if this ability was still intact as the pitchers on the team weren't very good. I also think that the workload placed on Tek's shoulders to get used to so many new pitchers was a lot to ask of him. It definately took him some tome to adjust to Wells, for example.
1B/OF - Kevin Millar
In a word: bum. Millar hit 9 HRs this season which is appalling for a first baseman. He was 7th on the team in HRs, not very far ahead of Renteria, Graffanino, Olerud, Mirabelli and Bellhorn. Millar somehow got into 134 games and somehow got 449 ABs. He only had 38 extra base hits and 50 RBI. He walked 54 times and struck out 74 times. He only batted .272. Thirty-seven MLB first basemen had more HRs than Millar.
Defensively, Millar is also a bum. There were many instances when he looked like a total fool. Renteria had similar troubled at the plate and in the field, but he didn't really have a replacement behind him. Millar did. Olerud shouldv'e played more along with Youkilis and even Ortiz a few more times.
RF - Trot Nixon
Once again, Trot was befelled by injury and once again, his numbers for the season weren't that great. He did knock in 67 and hit 13 HRs which isn't bad considering he only played in 124 games. He was, in my opinion, unfairly thrust into the role of full-time right-fielder. We had Jay Payton for awhile who was hitting well, but we let him go. Then Kapler came back, but then got hurt.
Defensively, Trot was very solid. His storng arm kept alot of runners from taking extra bases, and he made quite a few stellar plays in the field.
3B - Bill Mueller
Another solid season from Mr. Solid. Bill hit .295, hit 10 HRs and knocked in 62 runs. He scored 69 times, had 47 extra base hits, and had an OBP of .369. He did, however, ground into 22 double plays to lead the team. Guys like Mueller are pivitol to the Red Sox offensive machine because they keep the pitcher working hard throughout the entire lineup. They knock in guys like Manny and Ortiz, and get on base for guys like Damon.
Mueller had another good season at the hot corner. He made 10 errors and had a fielding percentage of .972. He made alot of tough plays and almost always made the easy ones.
2B/SS - Mark Bellhorn
Bellhorn did not repeat what he did in 2004. He only hit .216 and struck out 109 times in 85 games with us. He had a bad start, and in my opinion, fell victim to the pressure cooker that is Boston. We probably should have gotten rid of him sooner and should have used guys like Youkilis more often to reduce his ABs.
Defensively, Bellhorn was very solid. He made the plays on the balls he got to and he turned the double play very well. He played wherever Francona asked him to with little complaint, at elast publicly. I still think Bellhorn is 10 times the player Kevin Millar is.
2B - Tony Graffanino
Perhaps the ebst mid-season acquisition behind Olerud, Graffanino did a good job at 2nd base, replacing Bellhorn. He hit .319 in 188 ABs, hit 4 homers and knocked in 20 runs. If he had 500 ABs, those numbers would translate to .319 - 11 - 53 which isn't that bad. Defensively, Tony played well and demosntrated a great deal of effort in the field. He will, unfortunately, be remembered more for his error in Game 2 of the LDS than the over 200 error free plays he made.
1B - John Olerud
A great mid-season acquisition. Olerud was an upgrade over Millar. In 173 ABs, he hit .289 with 7 HRs and 37 RBI. Translate those numbers to 500 ABs and he would have had .289 - 20 - 107. Compare those numbers with Millar's .272 - 9 - 50. Olerud was/is/always will be a superior player.
Olerud's best contribution was with his glove. We saw last year with Mientkiewicz how vital a good glove man at first base can be. We saw it again in 2005, but sadly, we didn't see it enough.
C - Doug Mirabelli
Dougie is quite possibly the best backup catcher in baseball. In 136 ABs, he hit .228 with 6 HRs, and 18 RBI. Calculate for 500 ABs and that is .228 - 22 - 66 which isn't all that bad. He contributes to the offense once in awhile which allows Varitek to take alot of time off and remain fresh. Defensively, there's no-one I'd trust more behind the dish when Wakefield is pitching. He also has a gun of an arm.
OF - Jay Payton
Payton was very productive while he was here, but he didn't want to be here anymore so he left us. We probably could have hung onto him for some time because he was hitting very well. He had 5 HRs and 21 RBI in 133 ABs with us. Defensively, he was pretty solid. He would have been a good platoon partner with Trot but it was not to be.
IF - Alex Cora
Another mid-season attempt to plug some holes. Cora filled the gap as a replacement infielder which was left when Pokey Reese left the team. He hit relatively well in limited time with us and he played the field adequately.
OF - Gabe Kapler
I was so excited when Kapler came back and then so dissapointed when he got hurt. He was a very pivitol part of our team last year and I thought he would be one this year, too. He didn't hit that well in his time here, but it seemed like every time he was in the lineup, he'd do something big or small with the bat or his glove to contribute to the team.
IF - Kevin Youkilis
I don't think Kevin was given much of a chance by Francona which is a shame because we couldv'e used him at 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and SS. He only had 79 at-bats. He did hit .278 and had an OBP of .400, but OBP is a stat used for long term success, not one game every week and a half. Not only was his playing time and his position inconsistent, his location was a variable. He went up or down I-95 in between Boston and Pawtucket a total of 7 times this season. And unlike his predecessor Lou Merloni, he didn't complain and neither did any of his teammates.
I really think we should have used Youkilis alot more. With Millar, Bellhorn, and Renteria all struggling, and Mueller with bad knees, there was an opportunity to play him nearly every day. I really feel like if he got to have 20 or so plate appearances a week, he would have been a big contributor.
IF - Ramon Vazquez
Vazquez was a dissapointment even as far as backup infielders go. He was essentially useless to us and when we released him, it helped us.
1B - Roberto Petagine
Petagine was a longshot and it didn't work out too well. He started off nicely, getting a few big hits here and there in spot opportunities. However, I'll always remember him as a last resort pinch hit strikeout victim with 2 out in the 9th.
OF - Adam Hyzdu
Hyzdu was used as a backup outfielder. He was good enough, I suppose, but didn't have the same ability as some of our bench players in 2004.
C - Kelley Shoppach
Shoppach was used as a 3rd catcher and did his job well enough in the 9 games we needed him to play in.
OF - Adam Stern
Stern was used primarily for his speed. This was a good role for him because he is fast. He really couldn't do much of anything else.
OF - Jose Cruz
Cruz was an attempt to fill the gap left by the leaving of Roberts, Kapler, and then Payton. It didn't take.
IF/OF - Alejandro Machado
Machado was used late in the season as a utility player and did his job well enough. He has some potential down the line to be a decent player.
1B - David McCarty
McCarty was used briefly in the role he occupied for a great deal of 2004 as a defensive first baseman. He didn't do too badly.
SS - Hanley Ramirez
Only 2 ABs, and 2 Ks.
C - Shawn Wooten
0 for 1 in 1 game.
The frontline hitting for the Red Sox was good with Damon, Ortiz, and Ramirez, but a few temporary gaps in the lineup hurt us, particularly in the playoffs. Varitek, Millar, and Nixon were not good enough #5 hitters in our lineup. The lack of offense from 2nd base and shortstop also hurt us. The lack of power from 1st base hurt us alot.
Our bench was not nearly as good as last year. Last year we had Mirabelli, Reese, Mientkiewicz, Kapler, and Roberts. All of these players are good enough to start for some teams. This year it was Mirabelli, Cora, Olerud, and a bunch of replacements at outfield. This hurt us and if we had lost some players to key injuries, would have killed us.