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
Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez (7) and relief pitcher Garrett Whitlock (72) Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

Boston Red Sox player who exceeded expectations No. 1: Garrett Whitlock

There’s really no comparison for what Garrett Whitlock pulled off this past season. Snagged away from the New York Yankees in the Rule 5 draft, Whitlock started the season off as a relatively unknown player fighting to make the major league roster. He ended the season as not only the best reliever out of Boston’s bullpen, but one of the best relievers in all of baseball.

For those unfamiliar with the Rule 5 draft, here’s a quick explanation of it. Each team has the opportunity to take a player who isn’t on a team’s 40 man roster. The catch is that if the player you take doesn’t end up on the major league roster, he reverts back to his old club.

The Rule 5 draft is really unheard of because teams don’t often take players, and when they do, they rarely make that much of an impact. When Whitlock was selected by the Sox, nobody really batted an eye. Little did we know at the time that Boston had just picked up their most valuable bullpen arm for the upcoming season.

Whitlock was phenomenal all season long for Boston, regardless of the role they used him in. He finished with an 8-4 record, but more importantly, he had a 1.96 ERA by the season’s end. It’s not as if he was rarely used considering he pitched 73.1 innings, making it clear he was one of the most effective relievers in the majors this season.

Whitlock’s presence became all the more important once Matt Barnes’ production fell off a cliff midway through the season. Whitlock found himself in more high leverage situations than before, and was completely unfazed by the increased difficulty of his outings.

You can make a case that he saved Boston’s season in Game 4 of the ALDS. Whitlock was called on in the eighth inning of a tie game, and he inherited a runner on second with no one out. He proceeded to strand that baserunner while getting the next six batters out, giving the lineup just enough time to scrape out a victory and cancel their flight back to Tampa Bay.

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This all goes without saying that Whitlock hadn’t even pitched an inning in the majors before this season. He didn’t even have expectations coming into the season. Realistically, if he stuck around in the bullpen at all, it would have been a win. But Whitlock developed into a true weapon for the Red Sox, and there’s no telling how good he can become over the next couple of seasons.