We found 10 reasons to keep watching the historically bad Red Sox

The Red Sox aren’t just bad. They’re worst-in-MLB-bad.

They’re the worst-Boston-baseball-team-since-1932-bad.

They’re the worst-pitching-staff-in-25-years-bad, with the highest ERA (6.12) since the 1996 Tigers.

They’re the most-wild-pitching-staff-this-millennium-bad, with the highest walk rate (4.5 batters per nine innings) of any MLB team since 1999.

The numbers are astronomical. So are the games, in which the Sox have used the worst pitcher in MLB this season (Kyle Hart) in a three-run game, and a pitcher with a career ERA over 5.00 (Ryan Weber) to protect a three-run in the seventh inning.

It’s easier to make the argument they’re trying to lose than they’re trying to win.

So why should anybody watch this team? Well, in truth, we can’t recommend it. It’s rarely exciting. It’s not clean baseball. The pitching is often painful to look at. And even when the local nine are ahead early, they’re more likely than not to blow the game late.

In a normal year, the owners would be paying at the ticket office for their pathetic roster. This year, fans’ only way to boycott is to turn the channel.

That’s your right, and we respect it.

But if you are tuning in to watch, if you’re a loyal fan who wants to see the Red Sox no matter how bad they are, no matter how little effort the front office has put into actually providing a winning product on the field, there are 10 reasons to watch:

1. Will the Red Sox get the No. 1 draft pick?

At some point, a fan with long-term interest might share what we only imagine is the interest of the front office, which is for the Red Sox to lose as many games as possible this year. Commissioner Rob Manfred has the power to change the draft order in a way that doesn’t reward tanking teams during the 60-game season, but he’s made no decision about it and the safe bet is to assume the worst record in baseball will result in the No. 1 overall draft choice. In that case, the Red Sox are on pace to get it.

Their 17-31 record entered this week tied with the Diamondbacks for worst in MLB, ranked by losses. The Rangers (17-30), Nationals (17-28) and Pirates (14-30) can give the Sox chase to the bottom.

With 12 games remaining against the Marlins, Orioles, Yankees and Braves, the Sox have a chance to lose 40 games and end up with the No. 1 pick.

2. Can they play spoiler to the Yankees?

What a story that would be, if the Red Sox suddenly found a way to win a series with their American League East rivals in town this weekend. The Yanks are once again beat up, with big names on the injury list, and they had fallen below .500 until a recent five-game winning streak put them back in the playoff picture.

The Blue Jays are ahead of them for the second playoff spot out of the East, but the Yanks (26-21) are still tied with the Indians for the two Wild Card spots. There are a few teams within reach, though, and if the Sox knock off their rivals this weekend, they could have profound affects on the playoff race.

3. Dennis Eckersley, Jerry Remy and Dave O’Brien have been excellent in the NESN broadcast booth

How many ham sandwiches can one person eat without suffering serious health effects? That’s one question Eckersley and Remy have been hilariously contemplating in recent weeks, as the three broadcast veterans have turned this laughing stock of a season into something more entertaining to listen to.

O’Brien deserves a lot of credit for facilitating interesting conversation that doesn’t always relate to the poor play on the field. He’s taken a more pointed interest in talking about other storylines around MLB, he’s well-informed on league matters and he’s a natural at teeing up Remy and Eck to do what they do best, banter about baseball.

Eckersley doesn’t pull punches, especially with the Sox’ historically bad team, and if he’s not making you laugh or providing insight from his playing days, he’ll at least join you in getting angry at your team for their most recent losing effort.

4. Alex Verdugo is a budding star

Will he hit for more power? Will he settle into a corner outfield spot or get a chance to play some center? Will he be an overly-aggressive baserunner or a smart one?

He’s got potential to be a .300 hitter annually and we know he’s got electric energy on the field. But there are still questions to ask as we watch Verdugo grow into a legitimate cornerstone in Mookie Betts’ absence.

5. Bobby Dalbec is an enigma

Has there been a Red Sox hitter this year who has looked as overmatched as Dalbec during his cold stretch the first week he got called up?

He couldn’t touch a fastball. Even low-90s heaters were blowing by him. He was striking out in about half his at-bats. And some of us were wondering if it was even fair to let him keep taking big league at-bats when he was so clearly not ready for them.

And then he flipped a switch. Pitchers started giving him off-speed stuff he could handle and Dalbec made history with home runs in five straight games and six homers in his first 10 big league games.

It’s still too early to tell if his power will make up for his strikeout rate, but he’s a gifted defender at third base who is still learning first, and he’s worth watching down the stretch to see how he handles everyday playing time.

6. Is Christian Arroyo a hidden gem?

The former first-round pick was claimed off waivers from the Indians in August and seems to be a favorite of Chaim Bloom, who previously acquired him while with the Rays.

He’s been smacking the ball hard since he started getting everyday at-bats at second base with the Red Sox. His exit velocity ranks in the 80th percentile of the league and Ron Roenicke raves about the show he puts on in batting practice. He’ll get a chance to play daily down the stretch to see if he’s a hidden gem or just another castoff that Bloom added to the roster in a desperate attempt to find future value.

7. Where does Michael Chavis fit into future plans?

He was never given a legitimate chance to play second base regularly this season and instead settled into a platoon role at first base, where he plays fine on defense but has struggled to hit with any regularity.

The Sox are now looking at him as an option in left field. Similar to Dalbec, he will strike out a lot, but has immense power when he connects. If the team is committing to Dalbec, do they have room for Chavis?

8. Jackie Bradley Jr. is playing for a contract

Bloom decided against trading Bradley before the deadline, despite the center fielder’s expiring contract providing little reason to keep him.

He’s started hitting better of late and is up to a .264 average and .756 OPS while playing great defense and ranking as the fourth-most valuable Red Sox player this season, per Baseball Reference.

A hot finish may or may not affect what kind of contract he might get this winter, but after eight years with the Red Sox, this could be the final slate of games to watch Bradley make diving catches at Fenway Park.

9. Matt Barnes is getting a chance to close

The leadoff batter seems to reach safely every time Barnes takes the mound for a save in the ninth inning. He’s not looking dominant, making every outing eventful, but he’s an elite reliever with high-90s stuff and a power breaking ball that make him a candidate to close next year, too.

10. Are there any hidden gems in this mess of a bullpen?

So far, only Phillips Valdez is looking like a success story, with the rest of the crew failing miserably on the year.

Valdez doesn’t throw hard, but has great movement to both sides and has surprised with a 2.73 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 26 ⅓ innings.

Ryan Brasier is starting to come around and looks more like the power reliever the Sox loved in 2018.

Will anyone else step up?

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