The Boston Red Sox enter 2018 after a weird 93 win season a year ago. The constant complaint was that they don’t have a power bat and then the weird David Price situation. It felt like a AL East Championship team that had no momentum going into playoffs. Under their new manager, Alex Cora, they have great young talent and some really good pitching and that was good enough for a +117 run differential last year. They haven’t done a ton this offseason but still have Mookie Betts, Benintendi, Bogaerts, Devers, Sale And Price to round out a nice core. The big question now is, can they sign JD Martinez, get the power bat they need and go from “Wild Card Team” to “Contender?” But do they wait for next year’s Free Agency to land a big bat? We’ll see.
Eduardo Nunez, 3B/UTIL (Full Season)
Addison Reed, RHP
Pablo Sandoval, 3B (Kidding)
Why they can win: They can win because they’re the Boston Red Sox. They’re going to spend, and they’ll do what they need to do to compete. If they get JD, they become legit contenders in a loaded top half of the AL. Getting Eduardo Nunez back is a nice move to add depth all over the field because he is so versatile. Mookie Betts is a possible MVP candidate due to his value as a five tool player and Chris Sale can win a Cy Young any year. They’ll win 85+ because they always seem to get it done and it feels like everyone in their lineup can do a job.
Why they can lose:They can lose because it feels like everyone in the lineup is an “XFactor” guy. By that, we mean that it seems as if they’re waiting on someone to have a big year to get them to the next level. They have an above average lineup that scores, but when they get cold, they get ice cold. Also, if Chris Sale gets hurt, the depth in their rotation doesn’t seem like one that can take them to a 2018 title.
Bottom Line: Boston is a good team. Not a great team. If they get JD Martinez, they will take a huge leap towards being elite. They should be a playoff team and rolling Sale, Price and Porcello is a nice look in a short series. There is no doubt they can compete with the Yankees but they need guys like Devers and Bogaerts to step up and have big years although Nunez relieves a bit of pressure on the young guys. They have an average farm but as always, you can never count them out to make a move either in Spring Training or at the deadline.
Major4 Numbers Game:
Stud: Chris Sale, SP
There’s a ton of high-end talent on the Bo-Sox with stars like: Mookie Betts, Craig Kimbrel, Xander Bogaerts, but Sale stands above them all. The Condor had himself a year. A trade from the rebuilding White Sox to the contending Red Sox did wonders for Sale. He abandoned his ‘16 strategy of trying to pitch more to contact and be more efficient and decided to go back to doing what he does best, strikeout absolutely everyone (MLB leading 36.2% of all batters). He increased his fastball velocity by 1.5 MPH, and increased the usage of his disgusting slider up to (32.9%, Brooks Baseball). A more spread out distribution in his pitch usage created a new element and unpredictability in his game. It all lead to him being the MLB Leader in many advanced pitching metrics (FIP, SIERA, and WAR Fangraphs) and don’t expect him to experience much of a dip in performance. Hot Take: he’s my Cy Young winner, continues his streak of 6 straight all-star appearances, and finishes top-5 in AL MVP voting.
Sinkhole: Mitch Moreland, 1B
With a well rounded lineup, which could get better with the addition of JD Martinez, and a solid staff and pen, this may be a slight stretch. Let me start by saying Mitch Moreland is not a bad player, he just doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence to a premier team. He ranked 22nd in the MLB for WAR at his position (0.9), and had a wRC+ of 98, which means he was slightly below average at the plate (Fangraphs). He’s just wildly average, but there is a place for that on MLB teams. He is a decent platoon option, but I still feel there are better options available.
Progression Candidate: Mookie Betts, CF
Call me crazy, but the 5.3 WAR put up last year seems like his floor. That is actually ludicrous… But, he had his worst offensive season season is ‘14 debut with a 108 wRC+ (fangraphs). There was positive elements to his season as he upped his walk percentage by 4 points without any significant increase to his K%. His bat to ball skills are elite (85.7% contact rate on all swings) and his hard-hit rate actually increased (35.7%). He’s 25 through this whole regular season, so I feel strongly there won’t be a dip in his ELITE defense and baserunning skills. Yes, there needs to be caps to describe how fantastic these two tools are in Betts’ repertoire.
Impact Acquisition: JD Martinez, OF ???
Okay, I admit, we are cheating here a bit. But come on, JD is bringing 45 jacks and 166 wRC+ (!) to Beantown, right? It is one of those acquisitions that has been talked about all offseason and seems like it’s a matter of days. I’m not sure it’s a great fit (I’m very high on JBJ, Mookie, Benintendi OF), as he is 30 and he has never been a great defender. What JD does bring is a power element the Sox lacked. They finished 27th in home runs in a very hitter-friendly park. He launches the ball in the air (16.1 avg launch angle) and hits it hard (91.4 MPH).
Major4 Prospects, (Top 100):
Jay Groome, LHP (43)
Michael Chavis, 3B (93)
Sam Travis, 1B
Tanner Houck, RHP
Why We Love Them: We love them because the city of Boston is great and Fenway Park is arguably the best stadium in the game. Would also like to get a count on how many times Hanley Ramirez’ helmet falls off this season (it even has its own twitter, @HanleysHelmet) and see if David Price and Dennis Eckersley finally drop the gloves. Mookie Betts can bowl a 300 and hit .300 and Wally the Green Monster is a very underrated mascot.