It is officially the post-season, the Red Sox are AL East Champions, and their first stop is the ALDS against the Cleveland Indians. If you told me a year ago, that they would win the division and have over 90 wins, I may have laughed at that notion. However, now I am laughing at my last year’s self.
What I would like to do is backtrack and look at the surprises of the 2016 Red Sox. Here are my top 3 surprises of the season:
- “Pretty” Rick Porcello
I have to admit, this is not the nickname I used to call Rick, as he was pretty far from being “pretty.” Last year Porcello was 9-15 with a 4.92 ERA. His WHIP was 1.360 and averaged a little over 10 H/9.
This year, he was not the same Porcello as last year. This Rick Porcello is only the 3rd Red Sox pitcher to have at least 20 wins and less than 5 losses in one season, the other two were Roger Clemens who won the MVP and CY Young in 1986 and Pedro Martinez who won the CY Young in 1999.
He has been a part of almost a quarter of the Red Sox 90+ wins this season. His stat line is something you would expect from an ace. He is 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA, WHIP of .1.009, 3 CG, .09 HR/9 and is averaging 3 hits fewer per game from last year. Not to mention, this is coming with over more than 40 innings from last year. I say his stats are something you may expect from an ace, but is it time we can call Rick an Ace? Who knows? But, all signs are showing that he has completely transformed from 2015.
- Hanley Ramirez
Now I don’t feel self-conscious about using the Han-Ram nickname I couldn’t wait to call him ever since he has been in the Red Sox farm system. One of the worst showings of playing left field I may have ever seen. When they announced he was playing first, I was already throwing in the towel for him. But, he has proven me wrong, very, wrong. He has a .996 fielding percentage with 1000 putouts. He has had a couple mishaps fielding his position, but for the most part, he has been very reliable. His offense has also seen a huge turnaround. Last year he hit a minuscule .249/ .291/ .426. This year has improved in every category hitting .286/ .361/ .505. Also not to mention 30 home runs compared to 19, 28 doubles compared to 12, 81 runs compared to 59, 157 hits compared to 100. In every category, there was a positive jump and mentally he has been much better. This turnaround not only was completely shocking, but it has been a huge impact on the team and is a significant reason as to why they are division champs.
- Jackie Bradley Jr.
I would say he was a huge surprise, but after the tear he had last August, everyone knew it was in him, the only question was could he keep it up or was it just a random burst of success. And when I say surprise, for JBJ, it only relates to him offensively, his fielding has always been something to highlight. In the 2016 season, he is batting .267/. 349/.486, hitting with greater power being up 16 home runs and 13 doubles from last year. Granted he has had a few cold streaks in 2016, but when he is hot there has been no one better. Hence, his 29 games hit streak when he hit .415/. 488/. 738 and had 44 hits, 9 doubles, 3 triples, 8 HRs, 30 RBIs, 19 runs. Last year, after his hot streak, it was apparent he could fire up offensively, and 2016 showed that he is good for a few hot streaks that give the team a huge boost. With his solid defense and the already dangerous lineups his streakiness makes it okay for him to get cold at times, but to see some of the numbers he put up this year, it took a lot of people by surprise.
These are my 3 surprises of the 2016 season. Not sure how I would rank the first two in terms of most surprising, but both were just as important for the team’s success. Successful teams always have those players who surprise everyone but to have 3 who not only have shocked everyone but literally made us look bad for ever doubting them is something that is very good to see heading into the playoffs tomorrow.
Would you have included anyone else in this list for biggest surprises of the 2016 season?