A roller coaster ride.
That is the only way I could possibly describe the 2017 season. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
A clubhouse flu to start the season. The team’s injury woes. A horrendous July. A great August. A postseason atmosphere in an April series against the Chicago Cubs. The rise of Christian Vazquez, Drew Pomeranz and Rafael Devers. Dustin Pedroia’s continued dedication and love for the Boston Red Sox. Chris Sale’s dominance. A better-than-expected bullpen. The David Price October redemption against the Houston Astros.
Suffice to say, a lot happened from April to October.
My personal favorite moments from the 2017 season (in no particular order):
– Christian Vazquez’s home run to win the tumultuous August 1 game against the Cleveland Indians.
– Jackie Bradley Jr.’s primetime catch against the New York Yankees.
– Rafael Devers’s home run against Aroldis Chapman at Yankee Stadium.
– Red Sox 5-2 comeback against the Tampa Bay Rays in September.
– Red Sox winning the division in game 161.
– Rafael Devers’s in-the-park home run in Game 4 against the Houston Astros.
There are many more spectacular moments that likely escape me at the moment.
My wife only recently got into baseball, and she started as a Kansas City Royals fan in 2013. This year, she has become the biggest Red Sox junkie. She could not get over Monday’s loss. The Red Sox have provided a great distraction for us as we fully concentrate on having children.
So, this is now a Red Sox house.
I am only a fan, and I certainly do not have the overwhelming data and analytics expertise, but I think the BoSox should do a couple of things next year:
– Manage Chris Sale’s starts a little bit better; don’t allow him to throw eight innings and 110 pitches every start.
– Give Deven Merrero and Blake Swihart some more playing time.
– If Eduardo Nunez is healthy again, keep him for the 2018 season.
– Stick to the plan: this was an issue that was on display on Monday against the Astros by not allowing Addison Reed to come in for the eighth inning.
– Encourage Xander Bogaerts to become the clubhouse leader; you see how great of a teammate he is on the field.
(This may be just NESN, but if possible keep the three-man team of Jerry Remy, Dave O’Brien and Dennis Eckersley.)
Despite a few questionable calls and hiccups over the years – making Steven Wright a pinchrunner, for instance – John Farrell did an admirable job in the regular season and postseason. He should not be the recipient of such vitriol as I have seen on a couple of Boston Red Sox websites . A World Series championship and two division titles are pretty good to have on your resume in five seasons.
The Red Sox suffered a string of injuries, players regressed and the schedule was grueling. With these factors in play, the team still won the division and performed well in the latter half of the American League Division Series.
I remain confident that the Red Sox will be at it again next year.
Here are a few predictions for the Red Sox 2018 season:
– If healthy, David Price will return to his old self.
– The bullpen will be even better than in 2017.
– Rafael Devers will be one of the top players in all of MLB.
– There will still be angels in the outfield.
– Rick Porcello will be mediocre, but better than this year.
– The one-two punch (Vazquez and Sandy Leon) behind the plate will be a tremendous force.
– A wild card game, but the Red Sox will have a great postseason run.
(A shout out to /r/RedSox for the hilarious nicknames: Benny Biceps, Benny Bones, Pretty Ricky, Christianity Vazquez, Jackie Bradly Jesus, etc.)
Thank you Boston Red Sox for a fun 2017 season. See you next year for my 20th season as a fan.