American League East: Previews and Predictions
Boston Red Sox
Baseball Prospectus Projection: 87-75 (1st)
FanGraphs Projection: 91-71 (1st)
As I said earlier, the Red Sox are consensus favorites to take the AL East this year. There’s no doubt that, on paper, they have the best roster make up in the division, if not the league. There’s just too much to be excited about with their new additions and returning stars. Even without David Price, this is the type of franchise that every fan wants to see: a stable group of veterans with a mix of talented youth and exuberance and most importantly the money to fix any potential problems.
David Ortiz won’t be here to lead the team for the first time in 14 seasons but that’s ok. This is Dustin Pedroia’s team now and you’d be foolish to think that he has anything on his mind other than a third career World Series ring. The club will also get a healthy dose of leadership from veterans (Chris Sale, Hanley Ramirez) and the young guys (Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts). Guidance and determination won’t be an issue for this team.
A rotation led by Chris Sale and Rick Porcello will be effective, and one rounded out by Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez will be stable enough to carry the burden until David Price is fully healthy. The same can be said for the bullpen. The addition of Tyler Thornburg gave the Sox a formidable 8-9 punch along with Craig Kimbrel, except he’s now expected to start the season on the 10-day DL. Nevertheless, they’re still relying on the closer with the most saves in baseball since 2010 and have Joe Kelly and Matt Barnes to help out in the late innings. The pitching will be alright.
Then there’s the lineup. Easily the team’s greatest asset, the Red Sox will have returning stars: Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, Hanley Ramirez, and Jackie Bradley; as well as breakout candidates: Andrew Benintendi and Pablo Sandoval; and the newly acquired Mitch Moreland. It hurts to see Benintendi and Sandoval included in the same sentence, but that just goes to show how good of a spring the Panda really had.