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Author: @greg_habeeb

Looking Back: Dustin Pedroia’s 2008 MVP Season

The Boston Globe reported Wednesday that the Red Sox are planning to activate second baseman Ian Kinsler for tonight’s game against the Rays. It’s a move that, on the surface, doesn’t come as particularly surprising or thought-provoking. After all, Kinsler’s injury was deemed minor when he was placed on the 10-Day DL with a hamstring injury on August 4th. However, it’s not particularly hard to see why Kinsler is on this Red Sox roster in the first place, or why his return to the lineup is newsworthy. In case you’ve forgotten, Boston has another former All-Star second baseman on this roster, also idling on the disabled list. Dustin Pedroia has only played three games this season. He’s been sidelined by the same knee injury that limited him to only 105 games last year. He also won’t play again in 2018. But as teammates Mookie Betts and JD Martinez duke it out down the stretch for the AL MVP award, it’s worth remembering that this is the 10 year anniversary of Pedroia’s own MVP season. And what a season that was. The Numbers Pedroia followed up his 2007 AL Rookie of the Year campaign by improving in nearly every countable metric. He slashed .326/.376/.493, with an OPS+ of 123. He only hit 17 HRs (second fewest by any non-pitcher MVP this millennium), but he also led the league in runs (118),...

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Xander Bogaerts Versus The Second Half Slump

Xander Bogaerts occupies a peculiar space in Red Sox fans’ consciousness. On one hand, he’s an All-Star, a two-time Silver Slugger award winner, and World Series champion. On the other hand, he’s never quite lived up to the lofty expectations that were placed on his shoulders as a top prospect and precocious rookie in 2013. He has shown he can hit, but hasn’t put together the mix of power, batting average, and plate discipline he teased early on…at least not all in one season. Bogaerts’ defense has improved steadily (a testament to how hard he’s worked). However, he’s at best a league average-to-above-average defender at a premium position. As a result, Bogaerts faded into the background while teammates like Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi (and contemporaries Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa) have surged past him. Bogaerts has been doomed to a series of “good but not great” and ultimately unsatisfying seasons. What’s one obvious reason? He has a propensity for a good old-fashioned second half swoon. Based on his performance at the plate since July 15th, Bogaerts looks like he’s headed down that path again. Bogaerts’ Past Struggles Bogaerts has tailed off before. The X Man has slashed .268/.325/.393 in 1263 career plate appearances in the second half of the season. That’s a far cry from his career first half numbers. Bogaerts has hit .291/.351/.443 in 1796 plate appearances...

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Blake Swihart’s Time Is Now

This is Blake Swihart‘s moment. Granted, it’s a moment that has been 4+ seasons in the making, but it’s here nonetheless. As soon as starting catcher Christian Vazquez headed to the DL with a broken pinkie on July 8th, Red Sox nation turned their eyes to a former top prospect who had fallen on some difficult times. If Swihart is able to deliver on his initial promise, he could be a difference maker both in the present and the future. If not, it will likely be an end to one of the more frustrating (and strange) Red Sox careers in recent memory. A Long, Strange Trip This crossroads has been a long time coming. Swihart was ranked #1 among all Red Sox farmhands by as late as April 9, 2015. He headed up a then-stacked minor league system that included names like Yoan Moncada, Henry Owens, Rafael Devers, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Michael Kopech. Swihart made his first start on May 2, and proceeded to slash .274/.319/.392 in 308 PA with below average defense behind the dish. In 2016, Swihart appeared in only 16 games after defensive issues led to his relinquishing of the starting catcher position to Vazquez. Then-manager John Farrell gave him some run in left field, where he almost immediately suffered a broken ankle. That injury sidelined Swihart for the remainder of the ’16 campaign, and...

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W2W4: Post All-Star Break Edition (@greg_habeeb)

We’ve officially entered the sports abyss. You know, that 48-hour black hole following the MLB All-Star Game where there are no sports to be found. The World Cup is over. There are no baseball games in sight. NFL training camp is still a ways off. Hell, even the NBA’s Summer League has concluded. In these dire times, all we can do is lock ourselves in our rooms, and look ahead to what the second half of the Major League season might bring. Red Sox fans are surely hoping for more of the same. Boston won an MLB record 68 games prior to the break, and hold a 4.5 game lead over the Yankees for first place in the AL East. There should be plenty of intrigue over the season’s final two and a half months. Here are a few key themes for Sox fans to keep an eye on for 2018’s stretch run: Will Dave Dombrowski Make a Move? The trade deadline is looming. The Red Sox may be on pace for 112 wins, but they have their share of holes. Three starting pitchers (Drew Pomeranz, Steven Wright, and Eduardo Rodriguez) are on the disabled list. The bullpen, beyond Craig Kimbrel, is “good enough to get by” at best and “heart-attack inducing” the rest of the time. 2nd and 3rd base have been well below average offensively, and a...

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