EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 3, 2013

Smitty's breakdown of Sox playoff roster

Christopher Smith
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — These are profiles of the 25 players who Eagle-Tribune baseball writer Christopher Smith believes will make the postseason roster. The roster must be finalized today.

DAVID ORTIZ

Position: Designated hitter

Key stats: 30 homers, 103 RBIs, .309 average, .395 OBP, .564 slugging percentage

Trademarks: Face of franchise, clutch hitting, yelling “This is our (expletive) city” before first home game after Boston Marathon terrorist bombings.

Smitty’s comment: Proved the doubters wrong by remaining healthy and being offensive MVP.

JARROD SALTALAMACCHIA

Position: Catcher

Key stats: Career-high 40 doubles, most ever for a Sox catcher.

Trademarks: Long, curly hair, tattoos ... being the captain on the field, according to David Ross.

Smitty’s comment: Has improved offensively and defensively. Unsung performer all year.

DAVID ROSS

Position: Catcher

Key stats: 3.12 catcher’s ERA, 41 percent caught-stealing rate

Trademarks: Big smile, personality, tendency to always be talking, strong defense, leadership.

Smitty’s comment: Offensive numbers don’t do him justice. He’s another coach.

MIKE NAPOLI

Position: First base

Key stats: Three grand slams and one walk-off homer

Trademarks: Longest beard on Red Sox, mother’s signature being tattooed on arm, beard pulling skills

Smitty’s comment: Yes, he set the Red Sox strikeout record (187) but his power arguably evens it out.

DUSTIN PEDROIA

Position: Second base

Key stats: Led MLB second baseman with 15 defensive runs saved and tied for best fielding percentage (.993).

Trademarks: Grittiness, toughness, Gold Glove defense, sarcasm

Smitty’s comment: Has struggled some offensively in the second half probably due to injured thumb, but heart and soul of team

WILL MIDDLEBROOKS

Position: Third base

Key stats: Batted .276/.329/.476/.805 with 8 homers and 24 RBIs in 158 plate appearances after return from Pawtucket.

Trademarks: Free-swinging approach, tremendous power/strength, outgoing personality

Smitty’s comment: Has looked great at the plate after a horrific start in which he was demoted to Triple-A. As a ninth batter, he’s a stud.

STEPHEN DREW

Position: Shortstop

Key stats: Tied for third in AL with 8 triples. Batted .333 with eight extra-base hits over final 13 games.

Trademarks: Laid back personality, being J.D. Drew’s brother

Smitty’s comment: Isn’t great against left-handed pitching but he certainly grows on you with clutch hits and very good defense.

XANDER BOGAERTS

Position: Shortstop/Third base

Key stats: Was 7 for 15 (.467 average) against southpaws

Trademarks: Constant smile, natural ability, top prospect status

Smitty’s comment: Sox shouldn’t hesitate to use him to pinch hit for Drew against a left-hander late in game.

DANIEL NAVA

Position: Left field/first base

Key stats: Finished second in OBP (.385) and 3rd in OPS (.831) among AL outfielders

Trademarks: Underdog, Mr. Nice Guy

Smitty’s comment: How could you not love Daniel Nava?

JONNY GOMES

Position: Left field

Key stats: Six go-ahead hits, four pinch-hit homers, two walk-off homers.

Trademarks: Unkempt beard, five near-death experiences, huge pinch hits, tattoos, Army helmet, leadership

Smitty’s comment: Winning follows him everywhere he goes. Expect a couple of key hits in October.

JACOBY ELLSBURY

Position: Center field

Key stats: Led AL with 52 stolen bases

Trademarks: Boyish good looks, extended DL stints, upcoming free agency, speed

Smitty’s comment: Has returned from injured foot. He had better be healthy because Sox need him at leadoff.

SHANE VICTORINO

Position: Right field

Key stats: His nine assists from right field were most by a Red Sox since Trot Nixon had nine in 2005.

Trademarks: Being the “Flyin’ Hawaiian,” running through walls, big personality, talking fast

Smitty’s comment: A much better offensive year than expected (.294 average) and tremendously valuable in the field and in the clubhouse.

MIKE CARP

Position: Left field/first base

Key stats: 29 of his 64 hits went for extra bases. His .523 slugging percentage is fourth among AL outfielder with a minimum of 200 plate appearances.

Trademarks: Tattoos, scruffy beard, big pinch hit RBIs

Smitty’s comment: When asked to pinch hit or start he is money. How can you not like him?

QUINTIN BERRY

Position: Pinch runner/outfielder

Key stats: 24 for 24 in career steals.

Trademarks: Immediate comparison to Dave Roberts in 2004 upon his arrival in Boston

Smitty’s comment: Could win a game with his ability to steal a base late in the game (see Dave Roberts, ‘04).

JON LESTER

Position: No 1 starting pitcher

Key stats: 2.57 ERA in second half

Trademarks: Overcoming cancer, big-game pitcher, being overshadowed by son in Ford commercials

Smitty’s comment: Phenomenal after the All-Star break and 2.57 ERA in the postseason. Deserves to be Game 1 starter.

JOHN LACKEY

Position: No. 2 starter

Key stats: 2.47 ERA at home compared to 4.48 on the road

Trademarks: World Series Game 7 winning pitcher as a rookie

Smitty’s comment: Love him in this spot. A bulldog in the postseason (3.12 ERA).

CLAY BUCHHOLZ

Position: No. 3 starter

Key stats: 1.74 ERA in 16 starts.

Trademarks: Going deep into games, missing time with injuries, trucker hats

Smitty’s comment: If he has a dominant postseason, they’ll win World Series.

JAKE PEAVY

Position: No. 4 starter

Key stats: 4-1 with a 4.04 ERA in 10 starts after being traded to Boston.

Trademarks: Intensity, yelling at himself after giving up hits, former Cy Young winner, guitar-playing skills

Smitty’s comment: He hasn’t pitched well in two postseason starts but he is healthy and as No. 4 starter has less pressure.

KOJI UEHARA

Position: Closer

Key stats: 1.09 ERA, 0.57 WHIP in 74.1 innings

Trademarks: Huge celebrations when pitching a clean inning, humor

Smitty’s comment: A beast in the regular season, there’s no reason he won’t carry that dominance into the postseason.

CRAIG BRESLOW

Position: Left-handed reliever

Key stats: 1.81 ERA in 59.2 innings.

Trademark: Being the smartest player in the majors

Smitty’s comment: Proved throughout his career to be effective against both lefties and righties. I’d use Breslow in the eighth inning.

JUNICHI TAZAWA

Position: Right-handed reliever

Key stats: Threw more than 1.0 inning 11 times this season and had a 0.98 ERA when doing so.

Trademarks: Good stuff but susceptibility to giving up some homers (9 this season).

Smitty’s comment: Shaky at times, manager has stuck with him. I’d give Tazawa the seventh inning and Breslow the eighth.

RYAN DEMPSTER

Position: Right-handed reliever

Key stats: Threw 2.2 scoreless relief innings after starting all year.

Trademark: Leadership, humor

Smitty’s comment: Struck out 8.2 batters per nine innings so he could be effective in this role.

FRANKLIN MORALES

Position: Left-handed reliever

Key stats: Didn’t allow a run in 10 of final 11 outings

Trademarks: Velocity, shaky control

Smitty’s comment: Lacks command at times. Might need to pitch in a few key spots.

BRANDON WORKMAN

Position: Right-handed reliever

Key stats: 2.45 ERA in three starts compared to 6.94 ERA in 17 relief outings.

Trademarks: Velocity, command

Smitty’s comment: Has struggled mightily out of the ‘pen. Don’t expect too many high-pressure stints for him.

MATT THORNTON

Position: Left-handed reliever

Key stats: 1.76 WHIP with Boston

Trademarks: Effectiveness against lefties.

Smitty’s comment: Has put too many batters on base since coming here. Will have to get a few lefties out in key situations.