Commentary

A player-by-player look at first half

Huge production from Gonzalez, Ellsbury, Pedroia, Youk carry the Red Sox

Updated: July 13, 2011, 12:43 AM ET
By Jeremy Lundblad | ESPNBoston.com

A player-by-player look at the Boston Red Sox's position players during the first half of the season:

Carl Crawford -- It wasn't the start that Crawford was hoping for, but there were some bright spots. He became the first Red Sox outfielder with back-to-back four-hit games since Jim Rice in 1977. After moving to sixth in the order, Crawford was finally getting into a groove before hitting the disabled list. In that spot, Crawford had a .344 batting average and .972 OPS. In all other spots, he hit just .213 with a .565 OPS. Even with his hot hitting, he remained a liability against southpaws. Consider that his .295 BA since May 1 is split into a .140 vs. lefties and .362 against righties. Overall, his .151 BA and .474 OPS against southpaws are on track to be the lowest by a Red Sox regular over the past 35 seasons.

Mike Cameron -- Stuck in a season-long slump, the first half brought a premature end to Cameron's tenure in Boston. His .149 batting average will go down as the fifth lowest in a season for a Red Sox position player (min. 100 PA), and lowest since Elston Howard hit .147 in 1967.

J.D. Drew -- Drew is a big reason why Red Sox right fielders rank last in the AL with a .220 BA and .302 OBP. As detailed at the end of June, his decline has been steep. Drew's .317 slugging percentage is the third lowest among AL outfielders behind only Juan Pierre and Alex Rios. That's in part due to hitting only two doubles since May 1. It's the lowest slugging percentage at the break for a Red Sox outfielder since the 1993 duo of Carlos Quintana (.295) and Ivan Calderon (.296). Drew is hitting just .197 with runners in scoring position, including .120 with two outs and RISP.

Jacoby Ellsbury -- There's been no better leadoff hitter in the American League, and the numbers back that up. When batting first, he leads the AL with a .329 BA and .388 OBP. That batting average would be the highest by a Red Sox leadoff hitter since Wade Boggs' .347 BA in the leadoff spot in 1991. As the first batter of the game, Ellsbury has been even better (.358 BA, .427 OBP). Perhaps his most impressive split comes against the AL East. Thanks largely to a .457 BA against the Orioles, Ellsbury is hitting a combined .385 with a 1.069 OPS against divisional foes.

Adrian Gonzalez -- His first half was so noteworthy that perhaps only bullet points will do it justice.

• His .354 batting average is the highest at the break for a Red Sox hitter since Nomar Garciaparra (.389) in 2000. His 1.006 OPS is the highest at the break by a player in his first season in Boston since Manny Ramirez (1.082 in 2001).

• According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he's just the fifth Red Sox hitter to lead the majors in RBIs at the All-Star break, joining Mike Greenwell (1988), Mo Vaughn (1995), Manny Ramirez (2005) and David Ortiz (2006).

• Gonzalez's .404 BA in June was the fourth highest in that month by a Red Sox hitter over the past 50 years. He became just the fifth Red Sox player since World War II with a .400 BA and 25 RBIs in June.

• At his current pace, Gonzalez would finish with the following line: .354 BA, 30 HRs, 138 RBIs. The last AL player to reach all three of those in the same season? Ted Williams in 1942.

Jed Lowrie -- Since the 2010 All-Star break, Lowrie has a 1.026 OPS against southpaws. During that span, only four players have hit lefties harder: Kevin Youkilis, Jose Bautista, Shane Victorino and Troy Tulowitzki. Not bad company for the shortstop. Now if he can just stay healthy. Here's one bizarre fact about Lowrie's first half: When playing shortstop, he is hitting .244 in 169 plate appearances. At all other positions, he is hitting .375 in 40 PA.

Darnell McDonald -- In the post-World War II era, McDonald's .143 batting average is the lowest for a Red Sox hitter with at least 75 plate appearances at the break. The second lowest? Mike Cameron's .149. The only other player to hit less than .150 in the first half with the Red Sox was Johnny Pesky (.149 BA in 84 plate appearances) prior to getting traded in June 1952. A couple of spots really stick out for McDonald: He is hitting .083 in two-strike counts and .083 against right-handed pitchers this season.

David Ortiz -- Strong finishes in 2009 and 2010 proved that Ortiz could still be an impactful slugger. But it seemed clear that he was no longer a threat against lefties. From 2008 to 2010, Ortiz hit .218 with a .674 OPS against southpaws. It's been a much different story in 2011. Ortiz is hitting .340 with a 1.042 OPS against lefties. That's the fifth highest OPS against lefties in the AL. The key has been getting around on fastballs. Last year, he hit .265 against lefties on at-bats ending with a fastball. This year it's .413.

Dustin Pedroia -- After entering the month with a .244 BA, Pedroia has hit .351 with a 1.072 OPS. On a team that didn't include Adrian Gonzalez, he'd be the talk of the town. In fact, only Gonzalez (.396) and Detroit's Brennan Boesch (.372) have a higher average in the AL since June 1. Like many of his teammates, Pedroia has crushed southpaws. In fact, his .394 batting average is tops in the majors, while only Jose Bautista (1.269) and Michael Cuddyer (1.196) can top his 1.078 OPS against lefties. While Pedroia's bat took a while to heat up, his glove has always been there. His eight defensive runs saved are second only to Ben Zobrist at second base.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia -- Would you believe Saltalamacchia was arguably the Red Sox's best hitter in high-pressure situations? Close and late situations are defined by Stats LLC as seventh inning or later when ahead by one run, tied or with the tying run on base, at bat or on deck. Under those circumstances, Saltalamacchia is 11-for-25 (.440) with two home runs and a 1.262 OPS. Only Jose Bautista (1.600) had a higher OPS close and late among AL players. Overall, Saltalamacchia is hitting .211 in the first six innings of a game, and .345 aftewards.

Marco Scutaro -- Scutaro is hitting only .128 with runners in scoring position. In the AL, only Chone Figgins (.127), Derrek Lee (.127) and Reid Brignac (.119) have been worse among those with at least 40 PA with RISP. In all other situations, Scutaro is batting .298.

Jason Varitek -- Among the many overreactions that occurred in April was the assumption that Varitek could no longer hit major league pitching. After beginning the season 1-for-25 (.040), he has hit .302 since. Quick tip to opposing pitchers: Don't give Varitek anything to hit on the first pitch. He is 10-for-16 with six doubles and two home runs on the first pitch, but has managed only five extra-base hits otherwise.

Kevin Youkilis -- His .911 OPS is seventh in the AL, but that doesn't tell the full story of Youkilis' first half. At home, he shares the AL batting average lead with Adrian Gonzalez at .383, and his 1.156 OPS trails only Jose Bautista. But on the road, Youkilis is hitting just .185, fourth lowest in the AL, to go with a .659 OPS. That .198 drop-off from his home to road batting averages is easily the largest in the majors.

Defensively, Youkilis has been about what you'd expect from a player who spent the past five seasons at first base. According to the defensive runs saved metric, he has cost the Red Sox 11 runs with his defense this season, tied for the sixth most in the majors. By contrast, Adrian Beltre saved 10 runs last season.

Quick Hits

Jose Iglesias -- In a short stint with the big club, the top prospect, 21, became the youngest shortstop to appear in a game for Boston since Juan Beniquez in 1971.

Josh Reddick -- Sure, it's only 70 plate appearances, but a .393 batting average is still something to behold. Since World War II, only one Red Sox hitter has entered the break with at least 70 PA and a higher average. That was 1955, when Ted Williams hit .394 in 128 first-half plate appearances. Williams missed the first month of that season while waiting for his divorce settlement to be finalized.

Drew Sutton -- Of Sutton's 14 hits, seven were doubles. Despite 173 fewer at-bats, that's two more than J.D. Drew had in the first half.

Jeremy Lundblad is a researcher with ESPN Stats & Information. He provides statistical analysis for ESPNBoston.com.

Jeremy Lundblad

ESPN Stats and Information

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