FIVE FAVORITE PLAYERS:
Big Papi was one of the few players who was both healthy and productive in 2014. His batting average dipped a little bit but he still turned in a slash line of .263/.355/.517 with 35 home runs and 104 RBIs. It was another impressive season but it was somewhat lost in the team's struggles and when compared to his other excellent work.
Pedroia was mostly healthy in 2014, but he had the worst season of his career to that point. Defensively, Pedroia was still very good and he won his fourth Gold Glove Award, but he hit just .278/.337/.376 and his power disappeared as he hit just seven home runs. He also only stole six bases while being caught an equal number of times.
Napoli's numbers were also down in 2014, but he still had a reasonably productive season and was one of just two regulars with an above-average OPS+. Napoli once again played an impressive first base and hit .248/.370/.419 with 17 home runs and 55 RBIs in 119 games.
Koji was impressive once again in his first full season as the closer. Even at age 39, Uehara's nasty pitching lead to a 6-5 record and a sparkling 2.52 ERA. He racked up 26 saves and struck out 80 while walking just eight in 64.1 innings. Uehara was one of two All Stars, the other, Jon Lester, was traded by the trading deadline.
Nava turned into a very good defensive player in 2014, but his hitting suffered, just like several other Red Sox players. He was decent enough, but not nearly as good as in 2013. Nava hit .270/.346/.361 with just four home runs and 37 RBIs.
I am not going to pretend that Buchholz was good in 2014. He wasn't. But he was the only starting pitcher from the 2013 season to still be playing with Boston by the end of the 2014 season. He did get slightly better as the season went along, but his final numbers were just 8-11 with a 5.34 ERA. Starting pitching was a major problem in 2014.
A very underrated player, Tazawa was once again dependable in 2014, pitching in 71 games with a 2.86 ERA. Tazawa also struck out more than a batter per inning and only walked 17.
The Dan Wheeler of 2014, by which I mean a middle reliever acquired under the radar who turned out to be one of the most dependable arms in the bullpen. And, like Wheeler, Badenhop was not brought back the next year. He also did not get any cards made of him for Boston. Badenhop had a 2.29 ERA in 70 games.
FAVORITE MIDSEASON ACQUISTION
Boston traded Jake Peavy, Felix Doubront, Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Jonny Gomes at the trading deadline. Some of the parts they received were Major Leaguers, others were Minor Leaguers. Cespedes was the best player they acquired, but he did not produce to expectations, only hitting five home runs in 51 games. Still he was better than the other players they acquired.
Betts burst onto the stage and was exactly the kind of player Boston hoped he would be. He sparked the offense while playing impressive defense wherever he played. Betts hit .291/.368/.444 with five home runs and stole seven bases in just 52 games.
After an impressive showing in the World Series, hopes were high for Bogaerts in his first full season. He was very good in April, but he struggled on defense and was moved around the field which resulted in a loss of confidence and his offense declined. He did pick it up toward the end of the season though and ended up hitting .240/.297/.362 with 12 home runs.
After two short stints in the Majors in 2012 and 2013, Holt had his official rookie season in 2014 and he made the most of it. The former minor league batting champ hit .281/.331/.381 in 106 games while playing every position except catcher, pitcher, and center field. Holt finished eighth in the Rookie of the Year vote.
As advertized, Vazquez was not much of a hitter. However, it was never his bat that made him such an impressive prospect, it was always his glove. In that facet, he did not disappoint, Vazquez thew out 52% of potential base-stealers and looked like a younger version of Yadier Molina behind the plate.
It was another bad year for Middlebrooks and pretty much spelled the end of his tenure in Boston. Unlike in 2013 though, Middlebrooks's power completely disappeared and he turned in a line of .191/.256/.265 with just two home runs and 19 RBIs. He struck out 70 times and walked just 15 times.
Pierzynski has always been considered a good-hitting catcher, unfortunately he failed to hit in Boston. If he's not hitting, there is no reason to keep him around because he is not a terribly good defensive catcher and he can be difficult to get along with. He was released after producing a line of .254/.286/.348.