Boston Red Sox Predictions
The Boston Red Sox hit rock bottom in 2012 with a 69-93 record after coming into the season as one of the favorites to win the AL East. They dumped a ton of payroll late in the season by shipping away Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford, and they are essentially starting over. Boston patched up its roster this winter by signing proven veterans like Ryan Dempster, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli and Stephen Drew. With stalwarts Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz, as well as the up-and-coming Will Middlebrooks, this lineup still has enough left in the cupboard to compete.
Jacoby Ellsbury (CF) – If the Red Sox can get the breakout Ellsbury of 2011 and not the one that has been hurt two of the past three years, they could be a sleeper in the AL East. He is entering free agency and could be dealt before the July 31 deadline, especially if Boston struggles early.
Shane Victorino (RF) – The Flyin’ Hawaiian looks forward to bringing his services to Fenway Park. Victorino hit .261 last season and should improve upon that number. He adds speed to the top of the lineup after swiping 39 bases in his time between Philadelphia and Los Angeles last year.
Dustin Pedroia (2B) – While he’s more comfortable hitting second, Pedroia has a career .840 OPS in the three hole and the Red Sox really need him there. He’s the clear leader of this team despite a ‘down’ season in 2012 in which he hit .290 with 15 homers and 20 steals.
David Ortiz (DH) – The Big Papi continues to get it done as he just never seems to age. Ortiz was baseball’s best DH last season by a wide margin as he hit .320 with a .985 OPS against lefties last year. He also belted 23 home runs in only 324 at-bats.
Mike Napoli (1B) – If he can stay healthy, Napoli will be productive. He hit .227 with 24 homers last season in just 352 at-bats. He has only averaged 379 plate appearances each year in his career to this point.
Will Middlebrooks (3B) – The free swinger struck out a whopping 70 times with only 13 walks in 286 plate appearances in his rookie season last year. However, he is a 25-homer guy waiting to happen given a full year. Red Sox fans hope that Middlebrooks is the future of the franchise.
Jonny Gomes (LF) – The career platooner may never be a a full-time player, but he will be given his shot this year. Gomes has been very productive in limited opportunities throughout his career. He has hit at least 20 homers in fewer than 400 at-bats three times.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (C) – Salty was another pleasant surprise as he hit 25 homers in 405 at-bats last season. However, his .222 average was little to be desired. If he doesn’t start showing better plate discipline, he will be replaced by either David Ross or Ryan Lavarnway.
Stephen Drew (SS) – One of the most underrated players in the league, Drew has 20-homer power and an ability to work the count. He has just had a tough time staying healthy, which could open the door for slick-fielding youngster Jose Iglesias.
Jon Lester (LHP) – He was one of the most dominant starters in the game until a disastrous 2012 in which he went 9-14 with a 4.82 ERA. The Red Sox really need Lester to return to the Ace that they paid him to be prior to last season.
Ryan Dempster (RHP) – The veteran right-hander was dominant in Chicago last season before being traded to Texas prior to the All-Star break. He posted a 2.25 ERA in 16 starts with the Cubs, and a 5.09 ERA in 12 starts with the Rangers. He could struggle against these tough AL East lineups, too.
Clay Buchholz (RHP) – With one of the most diverse arsenals in the game, Buchholz has the tools to be a dominant starter in this league. He went 11-8 with a 4.56 ERA last season and must find some more consistency from start to start.
John Lackey (RHP) – Red Sox fans don’t think of Lackey often, but when they do, it’s usually accompanied by cursing. He’ll be a year-and-a-half removed from his Tommy John surgery, which tends to be the recovery sweet spot. Lackey needs to return to his previously form with the Angels if the Red Sox are going to make any noise this year.
Felix Doubront (RHP) – He gave Boston some good innings as its rotation just completely fell apart last year. Doubront went 11-10 with a 4.86 ERA over 29 starts, striking out a whopping 167 batters in 161.0 innings. He also walked 71 and needs to work on his control.
Joel Hanrahan (RHP) – He brings 98 mph heat from Pittsburgh and instantly adds some stability to the back of Boston’s bullpen. Taking a page from the Baltimore Orioles’ book, the Red Sox have stocked up on arms to help close out games. Getting the ball to Hanrahan will be the likes of Andrew Bailey, Koji Uehara, Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves.
5th Place AL East & UNDER 79.5 Wins – I like what the Red Sox did in bringing in Victorino, Napoli and Gomes as the offense has a chance to keep this team competitive. However, the rotation has way too many question marks for me to pick this team to finish anywhere other than last place in the AL East. Even the once-reliable Lester is coming off a horrid year, and he’s supposed to be the Ace of this staff. Too many things would have to go right for this rotation to do a complete 180 from last season, and I’m not banking on it.
|2012 Boston Red Sox Odds|
|Total Regular Season Wins||O79.5 (-120)|