Saturday, March 3, 2018

Boston Red Sox 2018 season preview



            With one of baseball's best outfields, and a young one at that, the Boston Red Sox finished 1st in the AL East with a 93-69 record. But, they lost to the eventual World Series winning Houston Astros in the ALDS. With their rivals, the New York Yankees, improving, the Red Sox needed to improve too. Let's take a look at their offseason.

            Notable additions: OF J.D. Martinez.

            Notable subtractions: OF Chris Young, INF Josh Rutledge, OF Rajai Davis, LHP Fernando Abad, RHP Blaine Boyer, RHP Addison Reed, RHP Doug Fister.

             What they did well: They needed a power hitter after David Ortiz's retirement after 2016. Martinez is that guy, hitting 45 homers in 2017. As a righty, Fenway Park is a very good place to hit. Also, they re-signed Eduardo Nunez because of Dustin Pedroia's injury, and Mitch Moreland because he's better than Hanley Ramirez.

               What they did bad: They didn't add much pitching depth. But, they have lots of depth already. I find it odd how there wasn't one replacement for Reed, Boyer and Abad.

              Sneaky sleeper: with near Cy Young winner Chris Sale, plus winners David Price and Rick Porcello in the rotation, it's very, very easy to overlook Drew Pomeranz. But, Pomeranz has had a 3.32 ERA in both 2016 and 2017, and struck out 360 batters in 344.1 innings over the two year span. He is quietly their second best starter.

                 Incoming outbreak: After being called up late in 2017, Rafael Devers went supernova, hitting 10 homers, 30 RBIs and had a .284 average in just 240 Plate Appearances. That secured himself the starting third base job. Expect even more from the now 21 year old.

                  Unsuspected setback: Well, there's a couple guys who could suffer setback in 2018. Expected to be injured until May, Dustin Pedroia hasn't showed too many signs of slowing down. But, the now 34 year old is in a fight for his job, as Eduardo Nunez will probably be the opening day second basemen. Pedroia needs to step up after he returns. Just a year removed from a Cy Young win, Rick Porcello had another rough year, and led the league in losses, a year after being the win king. With the rise of Pomeranz, Porcello is now just their third starter. The final guy, Hanley Ramirez, will suffer the most from the Martinez signing. Going in to the offseason, he looked like the opening day 1B. Then, they signed Mitch Moreland, moving him to DH. The Martinez signing moves him to the bench. That can't really help his numbers.

                   Blue-chip bopper: despite the Martinez signing, Mookie Betts is still their best position player. He has over 100 RBIs in the last two seasons, and 55 homers in them combined. His career .351 OBP is something to be proud of. Also, I didn't mention he is an amazing fielder.

                   Astounding ace: This past year's Cy Young runner-up, Chris Sale has finished top 6 in the voting every season since 2012. But, he's somehow never won. He's basically the Buffalo Bills of the 90s. In 2017, he reached 300 strikeouts, and a 2.90 ERA in 214.1 innings. If it wasn't for a rocky finish, he would've won the Cy Young.

                Here is the Red Sox projected roster, first with their lineup (injured players aren't named).

 2B Eduardo Nunez (R)
 RF Mookie Betts (R)
 LF Andrew Benintendi (L)
 DH J.D. Martinez (R)
 1B Mitch Moreland (L)
 SS Xander Bogaerts (R)
 3B Rafael Devers (L)
 CF Jackie Bradley Jr. (L)
 C Christian Vasquez (R)

       Here's their rotation.

 LHP Chris Sale
 LHP Drew Pomeranz
 RHP Rick Porcello
 LHP David Price
 LHP Brian Johnson

 Craig Kimbrel (R) is their closer, with Carson Smith (R), Tyler Thornburg (R), Robby Scott (L), Matt Barnes (R) and Heath Hembree (R) also in the bullpen.

 1B Hanley Ramirez (R), C Sandy Leon (S), U Brock Holt (L) and Deven Marrero (R) are on the bench.

 For my prediction, I think the Red Sox will run away with the 1st wild card spot in the American League, and make the playoffs.

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