So before the regular season gets lost in the shuffle and becomes a distant memory, now's the time to take a look back at some of the more eye-catching figures after 162 games.
Leather in the outfield
For the second straight season, a Red Sox outfielder posted a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage. This year, Jason Bay had the honors, making 310 putouts and 15 assists on the year. His career fielding percentage is .988.
In 2008, Jacoby Ellsbury made 332 putouts and four assists while spending time at all three outfield positions.
What a decade
Life for Red Sox fans wasn't always this sweet, but after eight decades of suffering, it's hard to say they don't deserve it. The Red Sox are the only team in baseball that has won 95 games for three straight seasons. They have reached the 95-win mark in six of the last seven seasons.
Kevin Youkilis finished his 2009 campaign with the best batting average on the team. His .305 mark is slightly below 2008's .312 average, yet his on-base percentage this season (.413) was much higher than that of last year (.390).
Youk's average was at .405 though the first 23 games of the season, and its lowest point of the year was .289 in early July.
After suffering from some serious pain in last year's postseason, Josh Beckett
reported to spring training in better shape. That paid dividends as the
29-year-old Texan pitched a career-high 212 1/3 innings.
Prior to this season, Beckett's career-high was 204 2/3 innings, set
back in 2006, his first year with the Red Sox. His average number of
innings pitched per season was 166 1/3 before this year.
Heavy weighs the crown
Following up an MVP season is tough. Just ask Dustin Pedroia.
The second baseman's season was by no means disappointing, but he was behind his 2008 numbers in a few spots. His average dipped 30 points from .326 to .296, his RBI total went from 83 to 72 while his 15 home runs this season were just shy of last year's 17.
Always a tough out, Pedroia walked 24 more times this year than he did last year, and he struck out seven fewer times.
Ortiz's dramatic turnaround
The Red Sox may not be in this
position had their designated hitter not turned around his season.
Ortiz warmed his bat up with the weather, belting seven home runs each
in the months of June, July and August. He hit six more in September to
finish the season with 28.
He also picked up his production
outside of the home run. He had 18 RBIs through the first two months
but matched that total in June. He went on to average 20 RBIs per month
through September and finished the season with 99.
Ellsbury still has some work to do if he wants to climb the list of all-time stealing greats. The 70-steal season ranks 120th in baseball history. His jump from 50 in 2008 to 70 this year provides a good reason to believe he should be able to do just that.
The ever-expanding Fenway Park
The Red Sox once again set a
single-season attendance record with 3,062,699 fans enjoying baseball
at the Fens this year. That tops last year's mark by more than 37,000
and makes 2009 the 10th straight season in which attendance has
Can't measure durability
Though just about everything in baseball is calculated through numbers, there's no proper way to quantify the peace of mind — both for a manager and for fans — of knowing you can pencil a guy into the lineup every single day.
This season, Terry Francona didn't have to think much when it came to second base, left field, center field and designated hitter. Pedroia led the team with 154 games played, while Ellsbury was just behind with 153. Bay played in 151 games while David Ortiz played in 150.
J.D. Drew was fifth on the team with 137 games played, while Youkilis was sixth with 136, even with a DL trip in early May.
It should be noted too that Pedroia missed time when his wife went into premature labor and again when the couple had their first child. The Red Sox went 3-5 without Pedroia in the lineup.
Winning the tight ones
The Red Sox won 34 of 50 games that were decided by five runs or more, but they also came out on on the right end of one-run games more often than not, as the team went 22-17 in one-run games.
Wake winding down
Tim Wakefield made his first All-Star team, but due to various injuries stemming from a nerve issue, he ended up pitching the fewest innings (129 2/3) since 1993, his second year in the league.
batted .336 in 56 games for the Red Sox, well above the .284 average he
had with Cleveland through July. He drove in 41 RBIs and belted seven
home runs after making the move.
Shortstop Alex Gonzalez
also elevated his game when he joined the Red Sox, posting a .284
batting average in 44 games with Boston. That's 74 points higher than
where he was hitting with Cincinnati through 68 games this year. The
veteran also found his power stroke, hitting 10 doubles and five homers
to drive in 15 runs from the bottom of the order.
Lester ready for the big time
Jon Lester made a major step forward this year, tossing 203 1/3 innings while posting a 3.41 ERA — best among Red Sox starters. His 225 strikeouts were fifth-most in the majors and third in the AL.
Jonathan Papelbon's numbers were fine all year, but he wasn't the dominant closer that everyone had grown accustomed to seeing over the past few years.
That changed in September (and four days of October), when Papelbon gave up just six hits and no walks in 12 1/3 innings for a 0.486 WHIP — his lowest of any month in the season. He finished the season with a 1.85 ERA and 38 saves in 41 opportunities.
Fountain of youth
Billy Wagner, albeit in a limited role, posted his lowest ERA since his 2005 campaign with the Phillies. With the Red Sox, the veteran lefty allowed just three earned runs in 13 2/3 innings for a 1.98 ERA. A newcomer to the setup role, Wagner recorded a career-high six holds.
Breaking out the big bats
Bay's 36 bombs led the team, but 24 different players hit a home run this season. Among them: Beckett (1), Adam LaRoche (1), George Kottaras (1), Brian Anderson (2) and Jeff Bailey (2).
Lending an arm
Three position players — Nick Green, Jonathan van Every and Dusty Brown — took one for the team and hopped on the mound this season. The results weren't bad either, with the utility infielder, backup outfielder and minor league catcher combining for 3 2/3 innings, a 2.46 ERA and 1.909 WHIP.
Of the three, Green had the best fastball, consistently touching 90 mph on the radar gun. Brown, the first catcher to ever step on the hill for Boston, recorded the only strikeout of the group.
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