Opinion

Ranking the top 5 Red Sox grand slams of 2018

Ranking the best Boston Red Sox grand slams this season

Featured image courtesy of Zimbio.com: (July 11, 2018 – Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

As we approach the All-Star break, it is pretty safe to say the 2018 Boston Red Sox have been magical for multiple reasons. Most of them revolve around the fact the team is on pace for a record-breaking win total, but their flair for the dramatic is in that conversation. The Red Sox have belted nine grand slams on the year, with the most recent one being, of course, Xander Bogaerts‘ walk-off grand slam on Saturday afternoon.

The club is tied for the most grand slams in the MLB with the Cincinnati Reds, which have accumulated all of theirs since May 22nd. Boston had a historic April with their bases-loaded round trippers. The team collected six that month and their next one did not come until June 30th against the New York Yankees.

On that note, did you know three of the Sox nine grand salamis have come against the Yankees? Meanwhile, Bogaerts has three this season and Betts and Devers have two apiece. Two thirds (6) of their slams have come in Fenway Park and four of them were hit into or over the Green Monster. Lastly, they are five grand slams away from tying the MLB record, which was set by the 2006 Cleveland Indians and 2000 Oakland Athletics at 14.

That is just quick, peripheral information about the Red Sox and their grand slam fancy.

Now, what I have devised below, is a top-five list for the team’s 2018 grand slams. This list is completely subjective, so there is no reason to get angry if one does not agree. The sole purpose of this exercise is for fun, so, dammit, we are going to do so unencumbered.

There are a myriad of factors that will go into this ranking, including the score of the game, the opponent the slam was against and the distance of the baseball. The situation which surrounded the grand slam will be the biggest factor, though.

Anyway, let’s get down to the ranking and feel free to comment your favorite slams of the 2018 season. Here’s to more grand slams to come!

5.) April 20th: Mitch Moreland vs. the Oakland Athletics

Situation: 3-3 game in the top 6th with no outs

Result: 425-foot grand slam at 104.4 mph

This slam came the day before the Sean Manaea no-hitter, propelling the Red Sox to victory with the go-ahead homer. It was off an Emilo Pagan flat breaking ball that caught way too much of the plate. In that moment, Red Sox nation realized that Dave Dombrowski finessed the free agent market, re-signing Moreland for virtually nothing. The WPA (win probability added) on the hit was .192,  which means the slam added an enormous amount of value towards the victory.

It was an extremely clutch road grand slam, making the tie ball game, well, not tied. He pulled it to deep right field and it was pretty much a no-doubter off the bat. There was not much of a crowd reaction, considering it was on the road, so it lacked the electrifying buzz of the Fenway crowd. Anyway, this was one of the more important slams of the season and Moreland came up huge.

4.) April 7th: Xander Bogaerts vs. the Tampa Bay Rays

Situation: 4-2 Red Sox lead in the bottom 2nd with 2 outs

Result: 425-foot grand slam at 109.0 mph

This was the first grand slam of 2018 for the Boston Red Sox and definitely one of the most exciting. It was Bogey’s second career four-run homer (at the time), coming off a 91-mph fastball middle in, which is his hot zone. The pitch hit its target precisely, so it was not located improperly, rather, it was just a bad call to begin with.

The situation, admittedly, could have been more exciting. The Sox were already leading 4-2 when it was hit. With that said, this was early in the season and the Fenway faithful were looking for something to get amped about. Enter Xander Bogaerts, who hit a mammoth shot to the Green Monster. This slam was even cooler when you pay close attention to Bogey’s reaction. He admires it, stands up straight in a cooler-than-you pose, and then casually flips the bat.

It had a WPA of .179, which is still a considerable amount, and crushed the Rays’ hopes of winning the division in one swing of the bat. 10/10 style points and the first of many slams for this group of Red Sox.

3.)  June 30th: Rafael Devers vs. the New York Yankees

Situation: 0-0 game in the top 1st with 2 outs

Result: 356-foot grand slam at 97.9 mph

This was decidedly the most unimpressive grand slam by sheer length and speed. In Fenway Park, this could very well just have been a single. However, the situation it came in was huge: the first inning of a game against the Sox’ biggest rivals. After the Red Sox lost in blowout fashion the night before, the big slam set the table for the team to create a blowout of their own.

Any grand slam against New York is big, but this one was a kick starter against the maligned Sonny Gray. It was a breaking ball on the outside corner that Devers went with. Admittedly, it was a bit high and Gray missed his spot, although the raw power that Devers displayed was impressive.

It also added .281 in win probability, which is the biggest boost of any of the slams we have seen so far. It was a clutch way to start a pivotal game against the Yanks.

2.) July 14th: Xander Bogaerts vs. the Toronto Blue Jays

Situation: 2-2 game in the bottom 10th with 1 out

Result: 392-foot grand slam at 104.1 mph

This is very fresh in our minds and it seems weird that a walk-off grand slam is not the best of the season. I’ll explain in a minute. In the meantime, Bogey absolutely notched his most important grand slam of the season on Saturday.  This ball was crushed to center field, as it came off what appeared to be an 87-mph fastball right down the heart of the plate.

The situation was crucial, obviously. Bogaerts lifted the Sox to victory in epic grand-slam fashion. Again, this was the first walk-off grand slam for team since 2000. He was evidently jacked up after it, but not as much as the next guy….

1.) July 12th: Mookie Betts vs. the Toronto Blue Jays

Situation: 2-1 Blue Jays lead in the bottom 4th with 2 outs

Result: 407-foot grand slam at 108.3 mph


In the same series, but two games earlier, Mookie Betts delivered a go-ahead slam in the 4th inning. To this point (well, before the inning at least), Happ was cruising, shutting down the red-hot Sox bats. Enter Betts who was up with two outs, trying to put the team ahead.

Not only was the homer impressive, but how he got there was iconic. He worked a 13-pitch at-bat, one of the best I have witnessed in a long time, to allow him to get the pitch he wanted. He fouled off everything Happ threw his way until he somehow managed to take a pitch low and out of the strike zone over the Monster.

It put Boston ahead, with a staggering .364 WPA, and ended up knocking Happ out of the game. The at-bat was so incredible it was worth number-one status alone, however, Betts’ reaction was absolutely priceless. For a guy who usually reigns in his emotions, to see him that excited was nothing short of incredible. Plus, the crowd was absolutely buzzing, even louder than with the walk-off slam. To me, this Betts homer has been the highlight and best Red Sox grand slam of the 2018 season

 

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