Red Sox and AL East will be a fireworks show in 2022

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 11: The scoreboard displays the score as Austin Meadows #17 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on in the eighth inning between the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays on August 11, 2021 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 11: The scoreboard displays the score as Austin Meadows #17 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on in the eighth inning between the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays on August 11, 2021 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /
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Red Sox and AL East will rumble in 2022

It will be a fun time for Red Sox fans at Fenway Park in 2022 as the old style of bludgeoning an opponent will return; it rarely left. The locals have long been noted for their offensive capabilities, and 2021 was not too shabby, but it may be fireworks time. Games may be a baseball version of Ali versus Frazier slugfest.

The American League East may be a home run derby festival or a whiffle ball league in 2022. The division will be offensively loaded, and expect high-scoring games to be the modus operandi. Boston will hit road games or home games, and so will the opposition.

The Red Sox lineup is just about a given, and there are naturally question marks regarding offensive output. The first one that displays my herd mentality is Jackie Bradley Jr. JBJ did nothing of merit in 2021, hitting a paltry .163. I get it – Bradley is there to stabilize the defense but giving up at-bats with nothing in return? Not good. Bradley gets up to league average then the bottom of the lineup becomes no more of being a bathroom break.

Will Bobby Dalbec be the Dalbec of his last 50 games of 2021? The kid crushes baseballs, but that little sphere is elusive to Dalbec with a 34.4 K%. Just how much patience will manager Alex Cora display? If Dalbec is the real deal, then the lower parts of the lineup will be scintillating.

Lower parts also mean Christian Vazquez, who became a minor disappointment with the stick last season. Were we spoiled by the 23 bombs of 2019? Was that an anomaly? I like Vazquez late in the game with a critical at-bat since he plays within himself – a translation is he puts the ball in play and avoids the swing from the heels approach, but the real thunder starts from the top and filters down.

Admittedly I did not care for the acquisition of Trevor Story, but aside, Story will jump-start even further a run-scoring explosion. Story will provide a similar approach as Red Sox great Rico Petrocelli did in his prime. That can mean a world of hurt for some unfortunate soul selected to pitch for the day with what Story and his accomplices will be capable of administering.

Combine Story with Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers, and this infield could be an absolute offensive juggernaut. Bogaerts and Story could duplicate the offensive heroics of the combo of Bobby Doerr and Vern Stephens. J.D. Martinez is playing for another lucrative free-agent contract, and the rest of the regulars and even the second shift off the bench can light it up.

So much for the high praise of the lineup as I fully embrace the Red Sox to be one of the best in baseball offensively and quite possibly the best. Then there is the pitching.

Chaim Bloom is fortifying the bullpen, and rightfully so. I doubt you will see any complete games and an ever-shrinking total of “quality starts.” The return serve will occur while Boston is racking it up against the Yankees staff or Jays. And then they will gleefully get their turn in the AL East world of no lead will be safe. You like runs; then the AL East will be the place to be in 2022, and especially Baltimore with a cozy park and a Triple-A staff.

Fans love offense, but the traditionalists value tight defense, and defense is pitching and glove work. Low-scoring games at Fenway Park may soon be a relic or rarity. I’m all in as I delight in watching the walls being scoured, souvenirs landing in the outfield seats, and watching the runs crossing the plate like a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

Even better is this electric show will not be confined to just Boston. A jolly participation by the whole AL East. Last season Boston, Tampa, and Toronto were among the top five in MLB for scoring runs. Expect the Yankees to get back in gear, and possibly Baltimore can tack on another 100+ to last year’s 659.

Next. Take aways from the first week of spring training. dark

Now back to the sad tale of when dreams in baseball crash: that little bump in the middle of the diamond. So far, Boston has a rising misery quotient with the loss of Chris Sale. Nathan Eovaldi is also playing money ball – meaning the free agency is on the horizon. The rest can be porous, uneventful, and possibly damn good. If they get a lot of damn good, this will be an enjoyable season.