Boston Red Sox: 3 players that exceeded expectations this season

Garrett Whitlock #72 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
Garrett Whitlock #72 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images) /
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Boston Red Sox
Enrique Hernandez #5 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

Boston Red Sox player who exceeded expectations No. 3: Kike Hernandez

I’m not afraid to admit recency bias has played a part in the crafting of this list. If we made it once the regular season ended, Kike Hernandez probably wouldn’t find himself in the number two spot. But after his riveting postseason performance, Hernandez has put himself on the map as one of the best playoff performers of this season, and has set himself up for a great 2022 season.

Incase you missed it, Hernandez turned himself into the hottest hitter in baseball for a short stretch of the postseason. He played a large part in putting away the Rays in the ALDS, and his hot hitting helped the Sox take a quick 2-1 advantage over Houston. It’s no surprise that once he cooled off, so did the rest of Boston’s lineup.

Hernandez’s postseason heroics were the cherry on top of a breakout season for the longtime utility player. Heading into free agency last offseason, Hernandez wanted more playing time than he had been getting with the Los Angeles Dodgers. When the Red Sox signed him, many figured he would be the main piece replacing Dustin Pedroia at second base.

Instead, Hernandez emerged as Boston’s starting center fielder, as well as their leadoff hitter for the majority of the season. He finished the season batting .250 with 20 home runs and 60 runs batted in. Pretty good for a guy who wasn’t considered good enough to be an everyday player heading into the season.

Hernandez was a steady presence in the lineup card for Boston all season long. It’s telling how awful Boston’s outfield looked when he was forced to miss time during the team’s widespread COVID outbreak, with Alex Verdugo looking like he’d never seen a baseball before during his time in center field.

Much like his fellow outfield partner Renfroe, Hernandez didn’t have particularly lofty expectations heading into the season. Now he figures to be a key piece of Boston’s next title contender. Two of the best moves made this past offseason by general manager Chaim Bloom were in free agency, but his best move came in the most unlikely place possible; the Rule 5 draft.