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 Closer Joel Hanrahan heads up our list of five Red Sox who
underachieved in 2013 (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Jan-Christian Sorensen Contributing Writer

Perhaps the highest praise we can lavish on the 2013 Red Sox is that nailing down five players who disappointed during this worst-to-first turnaround season is no small feat.

That certainly wasn’t the case in 2012, when compiling such a list was more feast than famine.

It not only speaks to the grit, drive and all-in attitude of the “Boston Strong” gang, but to the number of canny, inspired offseason signings made by GM Ben Cherington.

Thanks to Cherry, the list of players who made a solid impact on the 2013 Boston Red Sox is a lot longer than the one singling out those who diminished the team.

Submitted for your approval, faithful citizens of the Nation, are the five Red Sox Busts of 2013:

1. Joel Hanrahan: In December, Boston traded reliever Mark Melancon, righthander Stolmy Pimentel and two acquisitions from the blockbuster Dodgers trade in Jerry Sands and Ivan De Jesus, Jr. to Pittsburgh for Hanrahan and infielder Brock Holt. Hopes were high for Hanrahan — a back-to-back all-star in 2011 and ’12 for the Bucs who recorded 76 saves while striking out 128 and posting a 2.24 ERA — to add some stability to the closer’s role when he signed a one-year deal with the Sox, but he only recorded three saves and gave up four homers in 7.1 innings while putting up a 9.82 ERA before having season-ending Tommy John surgery in May.

2. Andrew Bailey: A holdover from the top-five underachievers list of 2012, the 2009 AL Rookie of the Year in Oakland again was a disappointment for Boston in 2013. After losing his closing job to Joel Hanrahan to open the season, Bailey was elevated back to the stopper’s role after Hanrahan’s Tommy John surgery and put up a 3.77 ERA while saving eight games, but also blew five saves before feeling pain in his shoulder in a road game in July. He ended up needing season-ending surgery to repair a torn capsule and labrum and likely won’t — for better or worse — be available to return to the Boston bullpen until at least midway through 2014.

3. Pre-demotion Will Middlebrooks: Call this one the Jekyll-and-Hyde file. After making his big-league debut at third base in 2012 and putting up 15 homers and 54 RBI with a .288/.325/.509 slash line in 75 games, Middlebrooks got off to a good start at the plate with six homers and 12 RBI in April but then quickly cooled off, going .190 with three homers and 13 RBI over 28 games in May and June and earning himself a ticket to Pawtucket to work on his mechanics and confidence while opening the door for Jose Iglesias. This story has a happy ending, however: Middlebrooks improved his pre-demotion slash line of .192/.228/.389 to .276/.329/.476 in the 41 games he played since getting recalled from the PawSox in August, hitting eight homers and driving in 24 to end the regular season.

4. Jackie Bradley Jr.: The future might be bright for this up-and-coming young outfielder, who hit .419 with two homers and 12 RBI in 62 at-bats in spring training to earn himself a starting spot in the shadow of the Green Monster to open the season, but the Fenway South magic didn’t translate on Yawkey Way. An excellent defender but lacking in plate power, Bradley, Jr. only hit .097 with three RBI and 12 strikeouts in a dozen games in April before being sent back down to the minors. Since his expanded-roster recall in September, however, Bradley had clearly adjusted a little more, putting up a line of .243/.317/.378 in 14 games after going .155/.258/.310 in his previous 23 games for the Sox.

5. Allen Webster: Picked up in the Dodgers-Boston trade last August, expectations were high for this 6-2, 190-lb righthander, but he was more gas can than gate-slammer in his eight appearances for Boston this season. In his first six starts, Webster went 1-2 with a 9.57 ERA, giving up 29 runs and walking 14 with opponents hitting at a .336/.406/.589 clip against him. His worst game was against Minnesota on May 8, when he served up eight runs on six hits and walked three in just 1.2 innings. On an up note, he made a spot start in Boston’s final game of the year and held Baltimore hitless over three innings despite walking three.

Dis-honorable mentions: Daniel Bard, Matt Thornton

Twitter: @jan_doh

Jan-Christian Sorensen 10/02/2013 03:20:00 PM Edit
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