By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — In baseball, there are early-season quirks, and then there are early-season quirks. And the Red Sox’ catching tandem has itself a quirk — with a capital Q.
It will end at some point, yes, but for now, Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez are like some sort of combination of Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Batman, Rocky Balboa and Barry Bonds. It’s rather wild.
Vazquez got the start — his second of the year — for the Sox on Monday night. A career .236 hitter in the big leagues and .266 hitter in the minor leagues, Vazquez casually put forth a 4-for-4 effort, one that included a triple and a pair of RBIs. He also stole a base for the first time as a major leaguer.
Vazquez was more than a little bit lucky with two of his hits, as can be seen by the number of Orioles surrounding this base hit in shallow right field:
But facts remain facts, and his batting average on the season now sits at 1.000 (5-for-5), while his OPS is a cool 2.800. He’s also been hit by two pitches, as well.
The crazy part is he’ll probably need to keep that up for a while if he wants to win the starting job, as Leon has started the year much the same way he did last year. Leon is 7-for-19 with two doubles and a walk-off homer to start the year, giving him a .368 average and a 1.000 OPS.
After Leon faded down the stretch last year, most people believed the days of Leon hitting .390 for extended stretches — like he did over the course of 30 games in June and July last year — were over. But he’s still swinging that hot bat.
Together, Leon and Vazquez are batting .500, with a 1.413 OPS. Unsurprisingly, the Red Sox lead the league in batting average, OPS, OBP (.538) and slugging percentage (.875) through a week of the season.
(Oh, and lest anyone worry that the reincarnations of Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron are focused solely on their unstoppable bats, they’ve combined to gun down all four would-be base stealers thus far. The Red Sox are the only team to have not allowed a stolen base this season.)
As has been prefaced, it’s a quirk in the early season. Vazquez may indeed finish the year with an average slightly lower than 1.000. But for now, it has been an interesting development through seven games.