July 4th is the perfect day to sit back, relax and watch/listen to an afternoon Red Sox game. Yesterday the game started off a bit rocky for Rick Porcello, but the Red Sox offense picked him up and turned the game into a big win for the Red Sox. A big piece of the offense was from an unlikely offensive juggernaut: Sandy Leon. Every time his name was called, I kept saying to myself (and my wife) “I can’t believe he is doing this. Just unbelievable.” Leon went 4 for 5 with 3 doubles on America’s birthday to raise his average to .500. I wrote about Sandy’s incredible stretch in the batters box a few weeks ago thinking that any day his bat would go cold and we would see the return of the career .187 hitter we all expected to see when he was called up. That day hasn’t come and it has forced a major roster decision.
Leon has been so hot offensively he has taken significant playing time away from Christian Vazquez. Vazquez has struggled in the batters box and went from #1 catcher to back-up to Leon to now AAA catcher with veteran Ryan Hanigan returning from the DL today. Since the Red Sox were not going to hold 3 catchers on the MLB roster, Vazquez was the natural choice given that he can still be optioned to Pawtucket without passing through waivers. This decision is less an indictment on him, but rather a credit to Leon and his impressive stretch alongside a systematic need to maintain catching depth.
In the end, I don’t think Leon is a .500, .400, or even .300 hitter, but his story is great to watch. He has earned the starting catcher role, whether that continues to be with the Red Sox through the rest of the season or with another team thanks to a deadline deal. After all, his value has and likely never will be higher than right now.