5 bold predictions for the 2023 Boston Red Sox

Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale and infielder Rafael Devers
Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale and infielder Rafael Devers / Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages
2 of 6
Red Sox infielder Triston Casas
Red Sox infielder Triston Casas / Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

Red Sox first baseman Triston Casas will win the AL ROY

Why it could happen: Triston Casas made his major league debut with the Red Sox last season, a brief 27-game sample that limited his service time enough for him to retain his rookie status this year.

While his woeful .197 batting average led some to believe that Casas was overmatched by major league pitching, the details tell a different story. His .208 BABIP was lower than any qualified hitter produced, suggesting Casas was extraordinarily unlucky. A player who hits the ball as hard as Casas should expect more balls to fall in for hits. According to Baseball Savant, Casas was above-average with a 41.5 Hard Hit%. Casas was hitting .281 in Triple-A so his sub-Mendoza line average during his limited time with the Red Sox was merely a small sample-sized fluke that will be corrected with more experience.

His reputation for his keen batting eye was on display with an elite 20.0 BB% last season. Juan Soto (20.3 BB%) was the only qualified major league hitter with a higher walk rate, per FanGraphs. Despite struggling to pile up hits, his knack for drawing walks enabled Casas to produce a .358 OBP, which would have tied Rafael Devers for 23rd in the majors if he had enough plate appearances to qualify.

Casas has produced only modest home run production in the minor leagues but he has the raw power to develop into a serious threat. He led Team USA to a silver medal in the Olympics last year with a tournament-leading three home runs and he's currently tied for the team lead with a pair of home runs in spring training. Fenway Park isn't ideally suited for a left-handed slugger but his ability to hit the ball hard to all fields will allow Casas to tap into his power potential.

Everyone digs the long ball, including the voters for season awards. If Casas can hit 25+ homers while maintaining an elite OBP with some positive regression for his AVG, he'll find himself in the Rookie of the Year conversation.

Why we can't lock it in: One area that Casas will aim to improve upon this season is cutting back on the strikeouts. His 24.2 K% wasn't alarmingly high for a slugger with his power but it was higher than you would expect from a hitter with his strong sense of the strike zone. Casas didn't swing and miss much, producing a 9.5 SwStr% last season. His patience might act as a detriment at times though since his 18.0 called strike percentage was well above average.

Casas will also face stiff competition for the award. Baltimore's Gunnar Henderson is the heavy favorite for the AL ROY. He's a five-tool talent with 20-20 potential who can play both third base and shortstop. Angels catcher Logan O'Hoppe is excellent behind the plate and his bat has impressive power for the position. Rangers third baseman Josh Jung struggled when he was called up last year but his minor league track record proves he can hit.

Casas is a solid first baseman but he's up against competition that can provide better defense at more premium positions. Casas will need to clearly outproduce them all with his bat in order to take home the hardware.