Which Red Sox Players Have Most To Prove in 2017?
It’s an exciting time here in New England as Spring Training has kicked off and all of the players have reported to camp. The team looks primed to contend for a division title and possibly a World Series. But even the most talented teams have question marks going into a season. I figured I’d take a look at who has the most to prove for the Sox in ’17.
Pablo Sandoval- I mean this one is painfully obvious. Sandoval is really the guy who made me even think about writing this article. He’s now entering his third season with the Red Sox and the first two could not have gone worse. He’s been overweight, embarrassing, injured and ineffective. The worst part about him is that he’s never seemed remorseful or shown any pride. So far, all he has done is take the big money from the Sox and shut it down. I’m not a believer in Pablo at all, and I hate when people post pictures of him looking slimmer to try to say he might be coming around. I’ll believe it when I see it.
David Price- This is another no-brainer. Price needs to prove to the city of Boston that he can hack it here and that he can handle some pressure. I don’t think his personality is the greatest for this environment because he seems like a guy who reads his press clippings. He definitely needs to get some thicker skin and ignore the noise if he’s going to be able to succeed. I think on pure talent alone, he can really kick it up a notch this year and I expect him to. Hopefully he can follow the same kind of path that his teammate Rick Porcello did when he had a rough first year in Boston but a great second go-round. Of course, Price could come out and win 25 games with 200 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.00 and if he doesn’t win in the playoffs people will bash him. So really, Price needs to improve during the season but he desperately needs to succeed in the postseason.
Craig Kimbrel- This seems nuts because Craig Kimbrel was an All Star last year. But while he had a lot of success, he certainly had his share of bad moments as well. I think most Red Sox fans were expecting a lot more out of him and when he faltered, people really turned on him. I wasn’t one of those people, but I can see why fans are frustrated. Kimbrel throws heat, but he needs to get his control worked out. That was his biggest issue last year by far and if he can figure out how to hit his spots better he will be a monster in the ninth inning.
Hanley Ramirez- Don’t get me wrong, Hanley Ramirez doesn’t need to prove anything because he had a bad year last year. He was far from it as he actually had a great year and should have gotten more MVP votes in my opinion. But now without his buddy/mentor David Ortiz around to keep him focused and in check, I worry. I also am concerned with what we may see from Hanley because he is going to be a DH now. There is a school of thought that Hanley was more engaged last year because he was playing first base and without that he may get lazy. I certainly hope not. So Hanley makes the list of the guys with something to prove because I think he just needs to show me he can handle this new role.
Jackie Bradley Jr.- It was a tough call of who to give the final spot to. I thought about a lot of other guys but the impact that JBJ will have on this team is too great and therefore he has the most to prove. He’s another guy, like Hanley, who had a great year last year. He was an All Star and carried the team at times. But he also dipped a bit too at certain points and I think it’s fair to question if last year was an aberration. After holding him out of so many possible trades and kind of relying on him to be a key piece, we really need to see him continue to perform at a high level.
Baseball is one of the more unpredictable games and because of that I have questions about most players. Will Eduardo Rodriguez stay healthy and pitch to his potential? Will Dustin Pedroia show his age? Will Andrew Benintendi continue to live up to the hype? I don’t know the answer to any of these questions definitively and it will be interesting to see what happens in the coming months.