Red Sox bench will be critical to their success this season

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While the Red Sox will have a strong starting lineup this season, their bench will be needed more than ever if they want to go from last-to-first again.

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Although the Boston Red Sox have a strong and balanced starting lineup heading into Spring Training, and one in which they can rely on to position them to go from last-to-first in the AL East next season, the importance of their bench this year cannot be overstated.

The Red Sox opening day starters project to be Blake Swihart at catcher; Hanley Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts and Pablo Sandoval in the infield; Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Rusney Castillo in the outfield; and David Ortiz as the designated hitter.  Here is how many games each appeared in last year:

Bogaerts (156)

Ortiz (146)

Betts (145)

Sandoval (126)

Ramirez (105)

Pedroia (93)

Swihart (84)

Castillo (80)

Bradley (74)

As you can see, only one-third of the 2016 lineup played in a number of games the Red Sox will want from their starters in 2016.  With Sandoval, Ramirez, Pedroia and Castillo, there are injury concerns, although all appear at full health right now.  With Betts, Swihart, Bradley and Castillo, there is the lack of a track record to rely on in terms of playing 140-150 games in a season.  With Ortiz, he is going to be playing the 2016 season at 40-years-old.

Therefore, the importance of the Red Sox bench this year cannot be overstated.  In all likelihood, one or more of them will be called upon to step in for a starter over a long period of time.  So, did Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox do a good job building the bench this offseason?

Let’s take a look at their bench:

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