Who will have the biggest breakout season?
Rick McNair: I do believe I have mentioned Eduardo Rodriguez the last two seasons and may finally get it right. The secret to success for the talented lefty is to actually stay upright and on the field for 30 starts. Do that and they can pass on Rick Porcello. Rodriguez should be in the middle of the rotation pecking order by season’s end.
Josh Greenberg: It’s a bit strange, perhaps, to peg a veteran reliever as a breakout candidate, but my gut tells me that Matt Barnes is going to show us something special this season. The 28-year-old former starter showed signs of dominance in 2018, his best major league season, and is now poised to take over as the team’s closer. I think Barnes will flourish in that role. After beginning his career as a starter before transitioning to the bullpen, Barnes will finally find his place in the ninth inning.
Brendan Howe: Xander Bogaerts: The power numbers have been down for Xander in the past few seasons but I think that coming into a contract year, he’ll finally hit that burst he’s been looking for.
Patrick English: Jackie Bradley Jr. will turn 29 years old on April 19, meaning he is still in his prime. One of three Red Sox to receive a Gold Glove last season, Bradley Jr. is already considered one of the best defensive players in baseball. However, he is yet to have the breakout offensive year that many scouts expected. In terms of WAR, 2018 ranked fourth out of Bradley’s six seasons in the MLB. However, his expected slugging percentage (.462) was .059 higher than his actual slugging percentage (.403). This means that Bradley was hitting the ball hard in 2018; expect him to continue to hit the ball hard, but find last outs this season.
Rudi Richards: Eduardo Rodriguez. Having already made an impact last year, I think he’s ready to take his game to the next level. He’s been impressive but he hasn’t really had a breakout season and held his form for the entirety of a year. This year, I think E-Rod will be a force to be reckoned with at the bottom of Boston’s rotation.
Hunter Noll: Rafael Devers. The third baseman dominated in the postseason last year and has gotten into better shape and looked fantastic all spring. He’s in a lineup that will protect him well so he could get a lot of pitches to hit and be put in a lot of RBI opportunities. This should be a fun year for him as the 22-year-old continues to grow.
Evan Lewis: Rafael Devers. After a down year in 2018, he’s going to be more determined than ever to prove his worth to this team. We saw flashes of his potential in the postseason and in spring training. Now that Bobby Dalbec and Michael Chavis are breathing down his neck, he knows he’s going to have to prove himself in 2019 or risk losing his job. The 22-year-old is a special player whose underwhelming sophomore season can be attributed to youth and relative inexperience. Now is the time for him to prove his worth in Boston.
Brian Carpenter: The biggest breakout season will come from Jackie Bradley Jr. We have seen spurts of his ability to perform at a high level offensively but I think this is the year he puts it all together. I think he hits at least 30 Home Runs and drives in at least 80.