Red Sox: Mr. Positive finds the lineup’s missing home runs

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 30: Mitch Moreland
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 30: Mitch Moreland /

If the Boston Red Sox do not sign J.D. Martinez is the world as we know it at an end? I think not. With a few positives, the home runs may be right on the roster.

Where do you find home run hitters?  The most likely spot is buying a ticket to a Yankees game, but that aside how about the Boston Red Sox?

The off-season search has produced nothing. No Jose Abreu or even Jay Bruce. The offer is on the table (maybe) for J.D. Martinez so that would be the top bat, besides Giancarlo Stanton, that was available. But what happens if Boston is shut out?

We all know the drill – Boston finished last in the American League in home runs. Their offense was sputtering – at least if you can still say 785 runs represents sputtering. The issue is Red Sox fans have a sense of entitlement from traditionally ranking near the top of the league in offense.

With this lack of production and the injury bug taking a bite out of the pitching staff the team still managed to win 93 games. The Red Sox staff despite the aforementioned injuries ranked third in the AL behind Cleveland and the Yankees. In baseball, the primary component of defense is pitching and that will be a key ingredient in returning to the playoffs.

The Red Sox staff will have to be healthy.  David Price and Steven Wright returning to 2016 form. The bullpen contributing as well as 2017 – and hopefully even better.  The second part of defense is catching the ball and having an idea of what to do with it. The Red Sox were best in the AL in 2017 and will have to maintain that in 2018, but what about all those gosh darn home runs? That’s where one must have faith.

The core of this Red Sox team is youthful and in 2017 a few had less than spectacular seasons. Mookie Betts is still the best player on the team and one of the best in the game, but that average took a tumble of 54 points.  Mookie was a wee bit passive at the dish so expect a rebound. Mookie will start to treat AL hurlers like he does a ten pin. Look for Betts to get back to 30+.

What’s not to like about Rafael Devers?  His fielding for starters, but that’s about it. What impressed me most about Devers is his hitting attitude. Each AB was a new experience and the old was history. A subset is the lefty hitter displayed no intimidation factor against southpaws. Devers has optimistically been projected for 30 bombs. I am more pessimistic and figure Devers good for just 29.

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What happened to Xander Bogaerts? This was supposed to be a breakout power year, but it turned into a breakdown power year.  Wrist?  Maybe. Bogaerts hit a measly 10 home runs in 2017 and it should have easily been doubled that. XB is nearing bonus money time (free agency) and the smell of money will motivate. Expect that 20+.

Jackie Bradley also went south on average and long ball production as the 26 gone yard in 2016 became 17 in 2017. JBJ needs to keep his usual slumps to maybe three weeks instead of the mandatory four weeks. Expect Bradley to up his contribution.

As much as I would like to, I cannot forget Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez will be in an even-numbered year so that usually means an acceleration in the offense.  With Ramirez, it may have been his shoulder which did a one-on-one with Mr. Surgical Scalpel. Can HanRam bag 30? Based on the very special contract Hanley could grab $22 Million for 2019.

That’s the basic.  The Big Kahunas of the bat.  The year of no David Ortiz is now over, and the adjustment period is over. And expect a few more long balls from Christian Vazquez and the usual 20+ from Mitch Moreland.

Next: Where does Steven Wright fit in?

So, in this best-case scenario, I firmly adopt my Mr. Positive personality and say this team will generate 830+ runs and possibly close in on 190+ home runs.