Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Season in Review: 2020

2020 was a mess for a lot of reasons.  Obviously with the COVID-19 pandemic, the season consisted of just 60 games and there were no fans in the stands.  Watching games was not as much fun without the energy of the crowds.  Of course the biggest issue was that prior to the season, the Red Sox traded superstar Mookie Betts to the Dodgers.  Without their biggest star of the last several seasons and missing both Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez, due to health issues, and a managerial change due to Alex Cora being suspended for his pat in the Astros sign-stealing scandal, the team played poorly.  Ron Roenicke stepped in and did the best he could, but this was a rough roster. 



Shortstop Bogaerts stepped in to Mookie Betts's shoes as the leader of the team in 2020.  He tied for the team lead in home runs (eleven), doubles (36) and led the team in stolen bases (eight).  Bogaerts hit .300/.364/.502 and had the highest OPS (.867) and OPS+ (131) on the team.  His defense was still somewhat suspect, but he is one of the best-hitting shortstops in the league.


Devers had another slow start to the 2020 season, something which has become somewhat normal for him, but he was blistering by the end of the season.  Devers tied for the team lead in home runs with Bogaerts (11) and tied for the team lead in doubles (16).  He led the team in RBIs (43) while hitting .263/.310/.483 with 61 hits and 32 runs scored.


After a breakout 2019 season, there was some question whether the new power stroke the glove-first catcher showed would continue.  Turned out that it did  Vazquez had another excellent offensive season in 2020 as he continued to push himself into the conversation of best catcher in the league.  Vazquez hit .283/.344/.457 with 22 runs scored, 49 hits, nine doubles, seven home runs, 23 RBIs and four stolen bases.


JBJ had one of his best seasons in 2020, just in time to be eligible for free agency.  He finished second on the team in WAR as his offense caught up with his defense.  Bradley hit .283/.364/.450 with 32 runs scored, 54 hits, 11 doubles, seven home runs, 22 RBIs and five stolen bases.  Somehow he missed out on the Gold Glove despite many sparkling plays.  JBJ signed with the Brewers prior to the 2021 season.


With Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez out for the year, someone had to step up as the team's best starting pitcher.  That someone ended up being Eovaldi, who ended up leading the team in wins (4-2 record), ERA (3.72) and strikeouts (52).  He walked just seven batters in 48.1 innings pitched.  Eovaldi still had some injury concerns, but was easily the team's best pitcher.



Barnes was a little inconsistent and a little too prone to the longball to be a top-flight closer, but he was the best Boston had.  In 24 games, he had a 1-3 record with a 4.30 ERA and saved nine games.  One thing he did very well though was strike batters out.  He punched out 31 batters in just 23 innings pitched, though he did walk 14.  


I know he did not stay with the team all year long, but Moreland was having a great season when he was traded to the Padres.  At the time of the trade, he was the team's leading hitter.  He had a line of .328/.430/.746 with 14 runs scored, 22 hits, four doubles, eight home runs and 21 RBIs.  The Red Sox received two decent prospects in the deal.


The Ice Horse largely struggled in 2020, but he had his moments.  He split time between first base, second base, left field and designated hitter.  His versatility was his biggest asset to the team.  Chavis did have power, hitting five home runs with 19 RBIs, but he hit just .212/.259/.377 with 16 runs scored, 31 hits, five doubles, two triples and three stolen bases.



It was likely not easy being the primary player acquired in return for Mookie Betts, but Verdugo did his best.  And his best ended up being the team's leading hitter.  Verdugo led the team in average, on-base percentage, runs scored (36), and tied for the lead in doubles (16).  He hit .308/.367/.478 with six home runs, 15 RBIs and four stolen bases while playing very good defense.  He led the league in assists.


The crafty southpaw Perez came over as a free agent to help solidify the Red Sox rotation and turned into a very capable second starter.  The best part was that Perez seemed happy to be in Boston.  Perez led the team in games started (12) and innings pitched (62).  He had a few bad starts which led to a record of 3-5 with a 4.50 ERA with 46 strikeouts and 28 walks.



Not a lot of choices here.  I suppose I could have gone with Christian Arroyo, but he was not quite as impressive.  Pivetta was acquired in the Phillies trade for Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman, but was not the primary part of the deal.  He made two starts at the end of the season, going 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in ten innings pitched.  He notched 13 strikeouts while walking five.



Valdez had bounced around several organizations before finally making his Major League debut in 2019 with the Rangers.  He was decent, but had been placed on waivers prior to being picked up by Boston, who gave him a shot to win a bullpen job.  Valdez did not disappoint, pitching in 24 games with a 1-1 record, a 3.26 ERA, 30 strikeouts and 16 walks in 30.1 innings.  He was one of the more consistent bullpen arms on the team.


After the trade of Mitch Moreland, the Red Sox needed a big bat in the lineup at first base.  Enter Dalbec.  Dalbec made an immediate impact, hitting a home run in his first Major League game.  He made it into 23 games, hitting eight home runs and having a line of .263/.359/.600.  He also had 13 runs scored, 21 hits, three doubles and 16 RBIs.


With a pitching motion that looked like a right-handed Chris Sale, and some electrifying stuff, Houck made a big impact when he made his Major League debut.  Houck started three games at the end of the season, throwing 17 innings.  He had a 3-0 record, striking out 21 and walking nine batters.  The former first-round pick was a big boost to the depleted rotation.



Martinez had a really rough season in 2020 after two great seasons as the Red Sox designated hitter.  Part of the issue was the inability to review his at-bats in-game as the sport cut down on video review.  Martinez hit just seven home runs with a line of .213/.291/.389.  He had 22 runs scored, 45 hits, 16 doubles and 27 RBI.


In what turned out to be his final season in Boston, Benintendi started the season as the leadoff hitter, made it into 14 games, and then was injured and missed the rest of the year.  When he was healthy, he was bad.  Benintendi ended his final season in Boston hitting just .103/.314/.128 with four hits, four runs scored, one double, one RBI and one stolen base.

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