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School’s in as Jerry Ballgame grades the Red Sox on the first third of their season.

With the first third of the baseball season behind us, I thought I would take a quick look at Red Sox and see who, in my estimation, has lived up to expectations, who has surpassed them and who is in danger of flunking out. With a surprisingly strong start by the Sox, I think it’s safe to expect the overall grade to be relatively high, say a B, B+ or so. I thought originally that I might do a player by player evaluation, but not only did that prove to be a tad too tedious, I’m just not sure there exist a sufficient body of work to judge everyone fairly. So I’m going to evaluate by area, with a closer look at some of the more important individuals are performing.

Starting Pitching: B+

No one has been better than Buchholz. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
No one has been better than Buchholz. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

This has been the team’s greatest strength to date. Although the work of Clay Buchholz (7-0. 1.73 ERA) has been strictly A+, with almost every start a quality one, Jon Lester‘s has not. It’s not like he’s been awful. After all, there are a great many teams who would love to have a lefty who is 6-1, with a 3.73 ERA, but I still feel that, at times, he’s prone to too many starts that just lack in quality (too many pitches, too many walks) for the guy who is suppose to be your number one. On the other hand, (no pun intended) John Lackey (3-4, 2.72) is showing signs of being a very solid number 3 starter with three very strong starts in a row. If he can continue this trend, it would keep the Sox very competitive over the remainder of the season. It would also help to have both Ryan Dempster (2-6, 4.47) as well as Felix Doubront (3-2, 5.24) be more consistent, but I still fear Dempster is strictly a National Leaguer and Doubront is lacking in discipline.

If I have to give the bullpen a separate grade it would likely be in the B- range. They’ve gotten some positive contributions from Craig Breslow and Koji Uehara, both with ERAs under 2, but have been hurt by the failures of Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan as closers.

The Infield: B

Napoli has held up his end of the bargain so far. (Al Bello/Getty Images)
Napoli has held up his end of the bargain so far. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

I’m inclined to give the infield a B, but it really should be higher. The right side of Mike Napoli and Dustin Pedoria has been very solid, both on offense and defense. Napoli has fielded his position well, and is amongst league leaders in RBI’s with 39. (Although I’d like to see him cut down on his 72K’s.) Pedroia is hitting over .330, and has been a definite spark for their offense hitting out of the third spot. The left side of the infield, has not lived up to expectations. Stephen Drew, who was not hitting his IQ (I’m assume he is above average in intelligence) at the start,  has shown signs of coming around and is currently hitting at .227 with 20 RBI’s. Will Middlebrooks, however, is in real danger of flunking out. He’s hitting a mere .201, with 8 homeruns, 21 RBI’s, but 54K’s. The power numbers are diminished by the fact that most of them came in one game back in the very beginning of the season. (OK, I exaggerate, but not by much…) Don’t be surprised to see Jose Iglesais get more and more playing time at the hot corner, even after Middlebrooks comes off the DL.

The Outfield: C+

Nava has been a surprise hit so far in 2013. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Nava has been a surprise hit so far in 2013. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The outfield deserves this grade largely because of the less than impressive start ( .257, 1HR, 19RBI’s) by Jacoby Ellsbury. He has shown some life over the past week or so, but has not put up the kind of contract year numbers everyone was expecting. He has actually been overshadowed by Independent League escapee Daniel Nava, who is hitting .289, with 32 RBI’s. (Actually more than Albert Pujois!) Shane Victorino, at .282, had a decent start, but can’t stay healthy. Jackie Bradley is back, so look for him to get another opportunity to shine.

Designated Hitter: B+

I’m skipping over Jarred Saltalamacchia, who is hitting and catching OK, (C+?) and going right to DH. Let’s face it, no one, expected David Ortiz to get off to such a strong start. Hitting .346, with 8HRs and 34 RBI’s, he’s looked good, and has even stolen a couple of bases. Let’s hope he stays healthy and keeps his B+ season going.

I didn’t do all the math, but that looks like a pretty strong , ‘B’ to me. Better yet, at least at this point anyway, we know the “B” doesn’t stand for basement. Stay tuned, there’s still a very long way to go.

HUBLET ALERT:

SHADES OF THE 1960 WORLD SERIES. (AKA BRUINS IN 7)  I have the feeling that the series between the Bruins and the Penguins is going to end up like the 1960 World Series, which involved the Yankees and the Pirates. New York outscored Pittsburgh 55-27, but lost in 7. I can see the Penguins having a couple of offensive explosions against the B’s, but if the Bruins can stretch it to seven, they win. Of course, that’s assuming they ever get around to playing it…

Jerry Ballgame

About Jerry Ballgame

The personification of "old school", Jerry Ballgame was born in the shadow of Dr. Naismith's peach basket, and baptized in that "Dirty Water." Designated by his "Uncle" Ted, to keep an eye on things, he's here to tell everyone what his view is like from the Hub of the Universe.

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