Another year, another disappointment. The Boston Red Sox finished the year 78-84 and, yet again, earn a last place finish in the American League East. Totally unexpected too.
With the big acquisitions this offseason, Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, the Red Sox appeared to have one of the best lineups in baseball. But that wasn't the case, as egos got in the way of the game and lead the Sox to a last place finish.
But there were some bright spots to this season: young guys came up and made a big time contribution to this team. Also, Torey Lovullo showed that he has the makings of being a good manager at the MLB level.
So here are my awards for this year's Boston Red Sox team.
Rookie of the Year: Travis Shaw (.274 13 home runs and 36 RBI in 65 games)
Who would've thought that Travis Shaw was going to be the everyday first baseman at year's end? I certainly didn't. But when Mike Napoli was traded to the Rangers in early August, Travis Shaw stepped in and really thrived. Shaw finished the year with a .274 batting average, 13 homers and 36 RBI in only 65 games. He showed the power that it takes to play at the MLB level for a guy with limited speed.
Also, Shaw has shown some signs of becoming an above-average defensive first baseman.
Honorable Mentions: Blake Swihart, Eduardo Rodriguez
Breakout Player of the Year: Xander Bogaerts (.320 7 home runs and 81 RBI, 196 hits)
It's hard to believe that, just back in February, we were questioning Xander's future with the team. With a .240 average, 12 homers and only 46 RBI in 144 games in his rookie season it seemed that he wasn't worth the hype.
But he certainly bounced back.
Xander came back with a .320 average, and while his power decreased (7 homers from 12), his production increased with 81 RBI in only 12 more games. He also finished with 196 hits, good for second in the AL.
Honorable Mention: Jackie Bradley Jr.
The All-Elusive "Ace" of the Year: Rick Porcello (9-15 W-L, 4.92 ERA, 1.36 WHIP)
This is an award that I really had to take into consideration. There really is no right answer to who the ace of the Sox was in 2015. Rick Porcello finished with a 9-15 record and had an ERA of just a few ticks below 5 (4.92) but he did something to convince me that it's definitely too early to write this guy off.
Now what did he do?
Well in his most recent start against the Yankees, the Sox gave him a 6-0 lead before he even took the mound. Now what does he do? Well, he promptly gives up 4 runs, capped off by a Dustin Ackley 2-run bomb. Now here's the good part, after surrendering those 4 runs, it was apparent that it was going to be a long night for the Sox and their bullpen, but Porcello bounced back beautifully and pitched 7 more innings of shutout ball. He finished the night with 8 IP with 4 ER. Earlier in the year, if Porcello gave him 4 early, he'd be gone by the end of the fourth, but the fact that he was able to pitch as if the first was ancient history is the sole reason why he's the most deserving recipient of the "Ace" of the year.
Honorable Mentions: Eduardo Rodriguez, Wade Miley, Joe Kelly)
And finally, the MVP: Mookie Betts (.291, 18 home runs, 77 RBI, 42 doubles)
It's hard to believe that, in just his second season (first full), Mookie Betts has emerged as a potential superstar in the game of baseball. Now while he fell off from his .429 average in Spring Training, Mookie Betts still had a tremendous year, posting a final batting average of .291, with 18 home runs and 77 RBI. Now this is primarily out of the lead off spot. 18 homers and 77 RBI out of the leadoff spot is just about unheard of. Now throw in his 42 doubles and 8 triples into his 174 hit season and you get 68 extra-base hits.
Also, Mookie Betts played a gold glove caliber season in center field and he is likely the front runner to finish second in the voting for center fielders, behind some no-name guy, Mike Trout. Which is a shame because Betts really was outstanding in 2015.
Betts lead a younger Red Sox team to a great September, and although finishing in last again, really leaves me to believe that 2016 is THE year that Boston finds themselves back to contending for a World Series title.
Honorable Mention: David Ortiz
Unfortunately, these bright spots were outnumbered by an awful amount of negatives. And that caused the Red Sox to finish below .500, despite the late surge of the young gun Sox roster.
But be ready, because I believe the Sox are going to be active in the trade block and free agent market. Plus, with Farrell back at the helm in 2016, anything can happen. Just be ready for a bounce back year for the Boston Red Sox.