Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Top Five Reasons Why 2016 Wasn't So Bad After All

There's been a lot of hand-wringing lately about what a horrible year 2016 has been. Really? Well, it's already December 28th and the sky isn't falling and the beaches of south Florida are not underwater (this is aimed at you, Al Gore). Moreover, your 2016 Boston Red Sox were a pretty exciting ball-club. After two last place finishes—and three out of the last four seasons as cellar-dwellers—The Carmine Hose roared back and captured the AL East crown. So, here are the Top Five Sox-Related Reasons To Look Back Fondly On 2016 (in no particular order):

David Ortiz delivered one of the most astonishing walk-off seasons in MLB history. First, on bad wheels, 40-year-old Ortiz played in 151 of Boston's 162 games. He hit .315, with 38 HRs. He led the league in doubles (48)—as well as RBIs (127), slugging (.620) and OPS (1.021). These are ridiculous numbers for any player in their prime, let alone an aging star. Five years from now on his HOF enshrinement, this epic season will seem even more amazing;

Rick Porcello rebounded from mediocrity to the Cy Young Award. Porcello's transformation was astounding. The 28-year-old righty went from 9-15 in 2015 to 22-4 in 2016—from minus 6 to plus 18. He threw 223 innings and led the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.91);

The Killer B's All Became Bonafide Stars. Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Xander Bogaerts had stand-out seasons together. All three hit 20 or more HRs (Betts had 31) and each had an OPS over .800. Moreover, on the horizon was a fourth Killer B (Andrew Benintendi);

 • Dustin Pedroia got his MoJo back. Last season, we once again saw The Laser Show we all know and love. Largely injury-free, The Muddy Chicken played in 154 games—and John Farrell needed a restraining order to keep him out of those other eight games. Pedroia hit .318 with 15 HRs and 74 RBIs—to go along with 201 hits (the first time he's done the latter since 2008). He compiled a .376 on-base percentage and knocked out 36 doubles. He's back;

Hanley Ramirez became a clubhouse and on-field plus. Who'd have thunk it? Not only did Hanley play a more-than-acceptable first base, he hit well and was Mr. Wonderful to the press and teammates. His 30 HR and 111 RBIs almost went unnoticed in the robust Red Sox offense. But we noticed.

So, there you have it, the Top Five Reasons to go celebrate the year that was 2016.