The Red Sox will have a much more productive lineup in 2018 with the development of young stars, and the addition of J.D. Martinez.
This is the hitting portion of a two part projection series I will be doing before opening day. My next post will be focused on projecting the pitching staff. All of the following projections are generated using the FanGraphs fan projection tool.
My method for projecting players is simple, but I also put more into it than simply projecting players will perform to their mean. I also don’t use formulas because there are enough systems like that already, and I don’t believe they paint the whole picture when evaluating players. For example, projections of J.D. Martinez prior to 2015 failed to give him credit for a mechanical adjustment he made prior to the 2014 season.
One of my favorite metrics to use for projecting player performance is BABIP. Players with abnormally high BABIP, such as Sandy Leon in 2016, tend to regress the following year. I also think basic rates, such as K% and BB%, often indicate development or regression more than they do luck. I handle every projection on an individual basis, but I value almost everything in the FanGraphs library to some degree.
|CF||Jackie Bradley Jr.||526||15||72||14||.269||.788||.337||3.2|
Putting J.D. Martinez in the middle of the lineup adds the stability the Red Sox lacked in 2017. There are a number of ways Alex Cora could set his lineup that would end up working out well for the Red Sox, but this is the lineup I would go with on opening day. When Pedroia is back, he could replace Bogaerts in the No. 2 spot if needed. By having Betts and Martinez hit 1st and 4th, there would be less shuffling of lineup roles.
I placed Devers 6th in the order to relieve the rookie of some pressure, and because his high K% and low BB% indicate he still needs to develop a little. Andrew Benintendi should continue to develop his power, while Mookie Betts increase his AVG back over .300. Mookie’s .269 AVG last year was the result of some bad luck, and the lack of a presence in the middle of the order.
In my opinion, the lack of bench depth was as much of a weakness in 2017 as the lack of power. The Red Sox should benefit from added depth this year. It’s also worth noting that if Swihart gets more starts, my projection of of him would actually warrant a higher WAR than Christian Vazquez. Also, none of the players on this bench have minor league options, so when Pedroia returns, Dave Dombrowski could have a tough decision to make.
Pedroia is still rehabbing his knee after a surgery that will “add some tread to his tires”. He will probably spend some extra time on the bench to rest his wearing body, but I think this surgery will benefit him. I often argued he was the most underrated player on the Red Sox last year, and I expect him to be his usual self in 2018.