When you look at the 2016 Red Sox team, it is hard to not think about post season, and post seasons for years to come. This team seems like the real deal right now. There are some questions about the team that still have to be answered, of course, but what teams don’t have kinks to figure out. However, this team we are seeing, a lot of its success can be contributed to half a decade ago. Yes, if it weren’t for 2011, I don’t know if we would be the same happy Red Sox fans we all are at this time and place.
Let’s travel back to 2011. Five years ago, who would have thought this was the year that the Red Sox (Theo Epstein) may have put together a draft class that would set the Red Sox franchise up for success for a very long time. Let’s look at some the draft selectees:
|Matt Barnes||RHP||R / R||6′ 4″||210||06/17/1990||1||19||08/15/2011|
|Blake Swihart||C||S / R||6′ 1″||200||04/03/1992||1||26||08/15/2011|
|Henry Owens||LHP||L / L||6′ 6″||220||07/21/1992||CA||36||08/15/2011|
|Jackie Bradley Jr.||OF||L / R||5′ 10″||200||04/19/1990||CA||40||08/15/2011|
|Mookie Betts||SS||R / R||5′ 9″||180||10/07/1992||5||172||08/15/2011|
|Travis Shaw||3B||L / R||6′ 4″||230||04/16/1990||9||292||06/13/2011|
Who would have thought that five years ago this draft class would make up four players in the lineup on a regular basis and a reliever who is going to be looked at to be the staple of our bullpen, as a result of an injured Carson Smith?
Matt Barnes was selected 19th overall in 2011. He was drafted with the intent of being a starter, but the lack of a good change-up and at times lack of command landed him in the bullpen. However, he has found much success so far in 2016. He has been a staple and is expected to be the replacement for Carson Smith. In 21 appearances, only 11 away from last year’s total, he has a 2.63 ERA, in 24 innings pitched, with an opponent batting average of .236. He has shown growth and is likely to be a huge part of our bullpen this year.
Then you have Swihart. He was selected as a second first-round selection, 26th overall. With the call up of Christian Vazquez and Brock Holt’s concussion injury, Swihart has found playing time in the outfield. It is still unclear if the Red Sox will keep him in the outfield or have him catch again. But, he has shown valuable versatility. Offensively, he has shown that he can hit like a Major Leaguer. Over the course of last year, and so far this year, his career batting is .273/ .370/ .393. His numbers could be better, but they most certainly have been good enough to land him a spot in the lineup. Even when he lost his spot to Vazquez for mainly defensive purposes, his bat still gave him a second chance to give him a spot in the lineup. And he is only 24 years old.
Owen was selected 36th overall, five years ago. He’s only 22 years old and has made his way into the majors. He has shown to have some problems with control but has some promise. He was drafted at 18 years old with the hopes of being a big-league starter, which is still very up in the air whether this will be the case. However, there is still a great deal of potential and optimism, being that he is so young.
Jackie Bradley Jr.:
Bradley was the last of the compensation picks that was given to the Red Sox after they lost Beltre to Texas, at 40th overall. Only four years into the league and Bradley has found himself to be one of the top defensive centerfielders in the league, and as of this season, he found his way to the top of the league in terms of offense. This year he is batting .331, with 59 hits (already 4 more than last year), 13 doubles, 4 triples, 9 home runs, 37 RBIs, and a 1.010 OPS. His offense this year has been something most people couldn’t even do in a video game. Of course, his offense has been a major impact for the team, and as of the last part of the 2015 season has shown to not be a fluke. But, even when his offense isn’t there, along with the type of offense the Red Sox already have, his defense itself can add so much to the team for years to come.
In 1,108 career plate appearances, even after a rather slow start to the 2016 season, Betts is hitting .288/. 341/. 473. Every season he has started off pretty rusty, but he has always stepped up. He is very young, as he is only 23 years old, and his offense is only getting better. If he were to skip the slow starts he has had at the beginning of every year, his end of the season stat line would mirror how good he truly is. Betts is something special, and over time, this will become more and more evident. Despite being the 172nd pick, Betts is as good as they come.
Travis Shaw has shown to be a strong player at both corners of the field. Last year he occupied first base, and this season he won the starting position at third base over Pablo Sandoval, giving way to Hanley Ramirez at first, which was virtually the last chance to find a spot on the field for Ramirez. Shaw, being a reliable position player at the corners, has shown offensively that he is capable of being a powerhouse. In 116 career games, he has batted .281/ .342/ .508. Granted it is a small sample size, but the numbers speak for themselves. According to Baseball Reference in a 162 game average, he would have 163 hits, 36 doubles, 28 home runs, and 99 RBIs. Right now it is difficult to say if he can keep it up, but there has been very little to show that he can’t. I would say he was a pretty good pick for 292nd overall.
I would say that 2011 was a very good draft year for the Red Sox. From what we have seen so far this year, and the growth of many of the young players, I think it’s safe to say that the 2011 draft has brought this 2016 team a strong foundation of players that can hopefully help this Red Sox team reach their ultimate goal of a World Series. Not only will they continue to help the team for this season, but also Red Sox teams for the foreseeable future