Life of a Sportsaholic

This blog is intended to be insight into my life as an irrational, stats-driven, obsessive sports fan in Boston. I am a fan of all types of sports with an emphasis on Boston teams and am a proud UConn alum.

Tag: houston astros

2019 is Critical for Rafael Devers

AP Photo/John Minchillo

The 2018 season was amazing for the Boston Red Sox. A franchise record 108 regular-season wins, wins against the 100+ win New York Yankees and Houston Astros in the ALDS and ALCS respectively, and a convincing World Series victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers in 5 games. Everyone associated with the team felt great rolling into the off-season, but it’s now mid-December and 2019 has started to come into focus. The core components of the team are mostly returning with visions of back-to-back titles, but some questions still remain. One of the biggest questions is what to expect from the 3rd base spot.

After a breakout showing during the 2nd half of 2017, Rafael Devers appeared to be the next up-and-coming young star in the Red Sox lineup. His much talked about HR off of Aroldis Chapman on August 13, 2017 brought national attention to the young 3rd baseman. He showed his tremendous power and clutch gene by hitting a 103-mph pitch for an opposite-field, game-tying HR. The raw power and talent was apparent and most, myself included, figured his early success showed he was only scratching the surface of what he could really accomplish. Many figured that after a full spring training and a spot on the opening day roster in 2018, Devers would come into the year confident and ready to roll. He started the year off strong, but then struggled to maintain success as pitchers figured him out.

On April 19th, 17 games into the season, Devers was hitting an even .300 with 3 HRs and 17 RBIs. Pretty damn good for a 21-year old who hadn’t even reached 300 career plate appearances yet. Unfortunately, things began to unravel after that point. He hit just .171 during the remainder of April with 1 HR and followed it up with a .212 May with 5 HRs and just 7 RBIs. From May 15th through the end of the regular season, Devers appeared in 81 games and hit just .231. He had 3 stints on the DL with shoulder and hamstring issues which certainly slowed him down, but even when healthy, he looked over-matched and confused much of the time at the plate and in the field. All young players struggle at times, but this was a prolonged streak of mediocrity that was concerning.

Devers rebounded a bit in the postseason, hitting .294 in 11 games, but his power was mostly absent (1 HR). Instead of being a feared middle-of-the-lineup hitter, he was a decent bottom 3rd type of player with the ability to get on base occasionally (he hit 5th in the first 2 games of the postseason, then 6th, 7th, or 8th in the other 9 games). It was clear his stock had fallen and his defensive struggles were even more amplified with his cold bat. He suddenly became more of a platoon player than an everyday lineup mainstay.


After a challenging season, 2019 is a make-or-break year for the young 3rd baseman. If he struggles for a 2nd year in a row, the Red Sox may need to consider moving on from the young star and trying to find stability with someone else. The good news: Devers appears to understand the situation he’s in and has re-committed himself early in the offseason to be in better shape and ready for opening day. 

On Wednesday, many reports out of the winter meetings were that Devers had hired a nutritionist and personal trainer this offseason to improve his conditioning in the Dominican Republic. This is great news, because the 237lb 3rd baseman looked out of shape at times in 2018 and had multiple injury-related issues. Alex Cora told the media that Assistant GM Eddie Romero went to visit Devers in the Dominican and he looked great. While you can never really believe what the manager says about a player, the fact that Devers hired professionals to help him get in shape this early in the offseason is a great sign.

I still believe Devers is the Red Sox 3rd baseman of the future and a potentially scary middle-of-the-lineup bat going forward, but am a bit more cautious than a year ago. Will 2019 be a breakout season for the 22-year old they call “carita” (babyface)? Let’s hope so.

Mookie Betts for AL MVP?

Photo by Brian Phair

Photo by Brian Phair

Anyone who has watched Mookie Betts play since his MLB debut in 2014 knows that he has the potential to be a special player. His speed in the field and on the bases, his defensive prowess, and his ability to handle a bat with very fast hands make him a star in the making. This season he has continued to improve and has quickly worked himself into serious consideration for AL MVP with just 6 weeks left in the season.

Betts has a .313 average with 26 HRs, 84 RBIs, 34 doubles, and 18 stolen bases (as of 8/16), which is incredible for a leadoff hitter (primarily). He ranks in the top 5 in the AL in batting average (2nd), doubles (2nd), triples (4th), runs scored (3rd), and slugging % (4th) and in the top 10 in stolen bases (6th), singles (9th), and HRs (10th). Not too shabby for a 5’9″ 180lb player in just his 2nd full year in the big-leagues.

To add to his offensive numbers, in 113 games played in the outfield, Betts has just 1 error (.996 fielding percentage) and 9 outfield assists. The most impressive thing regarding Betts’ defense? Until 2014, he had never played a professional inning in the outfield. Before being called up to the majors he had played just 45 games in centerfield in the minors in 2014.

If the season were to end now, I believe Mookie Betts would finish 2nd to Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros in the AL MVP voting. Altuve is having in other-worldly season, hitting .362 with 19 HRs and 73 RBIs so far and is deserving of the honor, but Betts is nipping at his heals. If Altuve’s average dips over the last 6 weeks of the season and Betts continues to put on a show, the AL MVP race could tighten quite a bit and Betts could find himself with some new hardware.

Six All-Stars for 3rd Place Red Sox

Image from Fan World

Image from Fan World

Before another tough loss for the Red Sox on Tuesday night that dropped the Red Sox to 3rd place in the AL East, the 2016 All-Star rosters were announced. The Red Sox headlined the American League squad with 6 selections and the potential for a 7th (Dustin Pedroia is one of 5 players in the Final Vote). This is exciting news for the players and as a Red Sox fan, it will be enjoyable to watch them participate in all-star festivities, but do the Red Sox really deserve 6 or 7 all-stars?

The 3 of the 6 Red Sox players selected were no brainers: David OrtizXander Bogaerts and Steven Wright. Ortiz and Bogaerts are ranked 3rd and 5th respectively in all of baseball in batting average and it’s hard to argue they both aren’t the best player at their respective position in the AL, if not all of baseball (definitely for Ortiz with no DH in the NL). Wright has been stellar this season for the Red Sox. In 16 starts he has the 2nd best ERA in the AL (2.42) and has held opponents to a .217 batting average against. He will have a real shot at getting the nod to start for the AL on July 12th.

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Injuries and Losses Pile Up for Red Sox

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Before Sunday’s game, the Red Sox were forced to make a flurry of roster moves. In 1 day, they lost their backup catcher, Ryan Hannigan, to neck inflammation and their 3rd string catcher/starting left fielder, Blake Swihart, to a sprained foot/ankle that could cost him the remainder of the 2016 season and even worse, will remove him from any trade conversations. Those two injuries force the Red Sox to tap into some organizational depth by bringing up C Sandy Leon and OF Rusney Castillo. The Red Sox also optioned RHP Noe Ramirez to AAA and called up RHP Heath Hembree.

Although neither Hannigan’s nor Swihart’s absence is devastating for the Red Sox, the injuries come at a time when the team is struggling against divisional opponents and has seen their division lead disappear. The Red Sox are 4-6 in their last 10 games (1-4 in June), all against divisional opponents (Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays). They are now in a virtual tie with the Orioles for 1st place in the AL East, with the surging Blue Jays (8-2 in their last 10) just 2.5 games back. The divisional race is likely to be tight all year because no AL East team has great pitching, hitting and defense, each has at least 1 major flaw.

Through almost 1/3 of the season, the Red Sox are just 14-15 against the AL East, but 19-9 against all other opponents, many of whom are under .500 for the season (Oakland Athletics, Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, and Atlanta Braves). If you want to look at the positive, the Red Sox are taking care of business beating the teams they definitely should be beating, but that’s not enough. In order for the Red Sox to make the playoffs and contend in 2016, they have to beat divisional opponents.

It’s really simple. The Red Sox play their 4 divisional foes 19 times a piece, totaling 76 games in the division (47% of their schedule). If the Red Sox finish with a .500 record in the division, 38-38, then they need to go 52-34 (.605 winning percentage) against non-divisional opponents just to reach 90 wins, which may not be enough to make the playoffs. That’s a significant task for a team with an era of 4.38, ranking them 12th out of 15 AL teams. As good as the Red Sox offense can be, they will live or die by their pitching staff come September when the playoff push is in full force.