Red Sox manager John Farrell yesterday named Rick Porcello the Opening Day starter for 2017.
Porcello, of course, had a memorable 22-4 campaign in 2016 with a 3.15 ERA that included an MLB-best 13 wins at home split between two streaks: six straight from April 15 to June 16 followed by seven straight from July 4 to August 29. The only hiccup, a team win but a no-decision for Porcello on June 23 against the White Sox.
Porcello didn’t lose a game at Fenway last season until September 14.
Kyle Kendrick Impresses
Far from the glare of the Porcello-Sale-David Price spotlight is Sox non-roster invitee Kyle Kendrick, 32, who despite not playing at the MLB level at all in 2016, is having a great spring training. Over 18 innings, Kendrick has given up just three earned runs while collecting 16 strikeouts. The Boston Globe‘s Peter Abraham says Kendrick is giving the Sox something to think about. The Boston Herald‘s Evan Drellich also has a package on the righty saying that Kendrick has gone from longshot to a nice commodity.
Now, a few other notes of interest to Red Sox fans:
- The rebuilding Chicago White Sox have cleared the path for one-time Red Sox prospect Yoan Moncada to join their major league club. This past week Chicago somewhat surprisingly sent veteran second baseman Brett Lawrie, 27, packing. There’s talk that the Royals, Mets and Blue Jays are teams interested in Lawrie, though the player’s agent says Lawrie won’t sign anywhere until he’s fully recovered from “minor soft-tissue discomfort in his lower body.” For his part, Moncada miserable spring (he was hitting .200 with 13 strikeouts in 30 at-bats entering Wednesday’s game) came through with two home runs against the Royals.
- Nice bit of background on the connection between members of the Sox coaching staff from Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. Farrell, Chili Davis, Gary DiSarcina all were playing with the 1993 Angels, as was former Sox bench coach and new Arizona manager Torey Lovullo. DiSarcina remembered restaurant meetings after the games as his “classroom.” “Little did we know,” Farrell says, “here we are grabbing coffee again.”
- There’s so much offensive power in baseball, right? So, when was the last time a major league club batted at .300 or better? You’ve got to go all the way back to the 1950 Red Sox! Only Vern Stephens (.295) and Bobby Doerr (.294) slipped below .300 that Sox season. Billy Goodman led the club (.354, a career best over 16 big league seasons), followed by Dom DiMaggio (.328), Al Zarilla (.325), Walt Dropo (.322), Hall of Famer Ted Williams (.317), and Johnny Pesky (.312). Overall, Boston batted at .302 that season. Hardball Times has a deep dive on the history of .300 AVG ball clubs that’s a fun read. In 2016 the Sox led MLB with a .282 AVG, the best team AVG since the Tigers batted .283 in 2013.
- Last season only two first basemen collected 20 or more doubles, home runs, and stolen bases: the Padres Wil Myers (29 2B/28 HR/28) and the Diamondbacks phenom Paul Goldschmidt (33/24/32), who also achieved that feat in 2015 (not since Ryan Braun in 2000-01 has such back-to-back achievement happened). There are only 11 first basemen in MLB history to reach the 20 2B/20 HR/20 SB milestone. You have to go all the way back to 1987 to find an American League first baseman with such a season. That was Joe Carter (27/32/22). The only others in the Junior Circuit are Rafael Palmeiro (40/37/22) and Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, who collected 29 doubles, 40 home runs, and 23 stolen bases while playing 99 games of the 1970 season at first. Last season, Mookie Betts (42/31/26) became the eighth Red Sox at any position to join the 20/20/20 club and the first since Jacoby Ellsbury (46/32/39) did it in 2011. Only one Sox players has ever done it twice: Jackie Jensen in 1954 (25/25/22) and again in 1959 (31/28/20).