I really wish to be included in the predictive parade, especially where it connects to the Boston Red Sox. Predictions are a fun exercise to carve the time up until the bell rings to start the season.
Fans, players, and media love statistics as it is our addiction - a baseball version of meth. With the surge in gambling, it is now an essential category in baseball that you can bet on any statistic. But I am going for the long haul in this post, which is the core statistics.
The core statistics are timeless, and despite the incursion of metrics, they remain center stage. A home run title, RBI title, batting championship, and for pitchers, an ERA title, wins, and strikeouts—then come secondary statistics.
Secondary for hitters is generally doubles, triples, steals, On Base Percentage (OBP), and hits. For pitchers, it may focus on saves, WHIP, or the relatively new conjured twins - FIP/ERA+. A deep dive will give you many metrics and a brain overload, and I'll stick to the everyday basics and avoid WAR.
Red Sox offense: Expect Devers to lead AL in doubles, Yoshida to make a run at a batting title
The home run is the driver ever since Babe Ruth made it so symbolic. The Red Sox have two players who will not lead the American League in blasts but will probably go cleat to cleat for the team lead. Rafael Devers and Adam Duvall both have the potential for 30+, but there is a long list of players who could go 40+ in 2023. I'll take Aaron Judge for winning this one and Mike Trout as a second choice. Duvall will lead the Red Sox.
In 2022 Xander Bogaerts was hunting for a batting crown but fell short. Bogaerts is gone, but they have a former batting champion with potential. That is the Japanese import Masataka Yoshida. Yoshida has exceptional bat skills, and now how will they translate to MLB? Yoshida has a nice park to hit in and new shift rules that could help. Yoshida will hit .300+.
Boston had no player in the top ten in RBI for 2022, which will change in 2023. Yoshida has excellent OBP skills, and the top of the order could significantly influence run production. I expect Duvall and Devers to approach 100 RBI, and Devers will top 100 RBI. No RBI crown but the future awaits for Devers.
Steals is an interesting possible change in MLB. Will that aspect of the game finally take off again? Adalberto Mondesi is a former steals leader but is recovering from surgery. David Hamilton is the fastest guy in the organization but is probably locked into Triple-A. This is not a base-stealing roster, and getting anyone to double digits in steals may be a task. Mondesi will "win" this title. He is healthy and improving his OBP, and Mondesi could get 20+.
The Red Sox were also absent from the top ten in AL runs scored in 2022, and that will likely change with Yoshida, Devers, and my long-shot choice Alex Verdugo all hovering in the 90+ range and winning the team title. As far as the AL title not with a healthy Judge in the loop, Yoshida is an OBP machine and may finish in the top three in AL.
Doubles is an area the Red Sox invariably clean house in the AL. Last season it was J.D. Martinez (43) and Devers (42) just missing the title. Devers has nabbed the title in the past, and I expect him to win that title in 2023, with Yoshida just behind Devers. Devers could top 50+ in doubles.
Triples, despite Fenway Park, have yet to be kind to the Red Sox through the years. Jacoby Ellsbury (2009) was Boston's last champion in that category. Expect that everything will stay the same in 2023. In 2022 Jarren Duran topped Boston with just three in 58 games. Duran is a lock to lead the team if he gets to play.
Red Sox pitching: Chris Sale will be Chris Sale, and others might also contend
To simplify this category ,Chris Sale will win the team's triple crown of pitching. That will leave a few categories that have an impact and, in today's game structure, the "save" factor becomes one the Red Sox could capture beyond a team title.
The Red Sox signed veteran Kenley Jansen to a two-year deal for $32MM to solve the bullpen issue. Travel back to the late 1980s, and Boston did the same only via an off-season deal with the Chicago Cubs. That brought Lee Smith to Boston, where he saved 58 games over three seasons. Smith went on to accumulate 478 career saves. I see Jansen and Smith as quite similar in their career paths. Jansen will lead the Red Sox in saves and be in the total saves chase in the AL.
The Red Sox had five complete games in 2022, as the CG is on the baseball endangered species list. Who will toss one? In 2022 Nathan Eovaldi (remember him?) made it twice, and Brayan Bello did it once. The team is cautiously monitoring Bello, so my choice for CG is Corey Kluber.
The innings-pitched leader will be Nick Pivetta, who, in baseball terminology, can be classified as a "workhorse." Pivetta topped the staff (179.1) in 2022 and will repeat and could toss 200+ innings if he finds more consistency.
That is enough cherry-picking and dartboard tossing. In my youth - mid-20th century - leading the league was a condolence prize for fans since the New York Yankees usually secured the brass ring by July. Hopefully, the chase for individual hardware and board leadership will be secondary to the team accumulating wins.