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Fast Finish Fuels Hopes for the Red Sox in 2016

Xander Bogaerts leads young players with promise

-Ft.+Myers%2C+FL+March+1%2C++2015-%0APhoto+by+Cindy+M.+Loo%2FThe+Boston+Red+Sox
-Ft. Myers, FL March 1,  2015-
Photo by Cindy M. Loo/The Boston Red Sox

-Ft. Myers, FL March 1, 2015- Photo by Cindy M. Loo/The Boston Red Sox

Courtesy the Boston Red Sox

Courtesy the Boston Red Sox

-Ft. Myers, FL March 1, 2015- Photo by Cindy M. Loo/The Boston Red Sox

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Despite losing their last four games and falling back into last place (for the third time in the last four seasons) the Red Sox finished their 2015 season a lot stronger than they played for most of it. During August and September, fans had reason to be excited about their team and its prospects for the future.

Their strong finish was no small feat considering what they had to work with this year. The main problem was pitching. Red Sox pitchers were 26th in Major League Baseball with a 4.24 earned run average (ERA) and 27th in batting average against at .263. However, Red Sox batters were fourth in the MLB with 748 runs scored and third in hits with 1,496.

There were many bright spots in this otherwise disappointing season. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts had the second highest batting average in the American League at .320. Bogaerts had the season that everyone hoped for.  Pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez was called up in late May and lived up to his top prospect status going 10-6 with a 3.85 ERA. David Ortiz joined the prestigious 500 home run club, joining an elite but small group of baseball legends, including Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Boston’s own Ted Williams.

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The Red Sox came into the season flaunting their so called “ace-less” rotation and payed the price. Red Sox starters were some of the worst in baseball and the team really needed an ace to stop their losing streaks and give them a shot at the postseason. The Red Sox will have a chance to use free agency to bolster their pitching, with David Price and Johnny Cueto among the list of available starting hurlers. These players will not be cheap as they are expected to demand contracts worth over $200 million. So, the Red Sox may be looking to make a trade. Recent signings Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval are rumored to be part of any trade discussions.

Red Sox fans have good reason to be optimistic about 2016. Core players such as Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts look ready to have great seasons. Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who shows off his elite fielding skills night after night, has finally become the hitter he needs to be to stay in the major leagues. A full season of sustained excellence from these players will improve the team’s performance in the American League next year.

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Fast Finish Fuels Hopes for the Red Sox in 2016