FanGraphs projections believe Red Sox low expectations are product of beastly AL East

Sep 17, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers (11) reacts after
Sep 17, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers (11) reacts after / John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

FanGraphs has released its pre-spring training American League standings predictions. They're not telling Red Sox fans anything they don't already know.

ZiPS has projected Boston will land in last place in the AL East — no shock there. But it's not just because the Red Sox are an underwhelming team. The Sox aren't amazing, but two of the teams in the AL East are. And the other two are almost as great.

ZiPS has placed the Orioles in first, the Yankees and Blue Jays tied for the same second-place record, the Rays in fourth, and the Red Sox in the basement. Again.

The predictions make sense. The AL East is, without a doubt, the most competitive division in MLB and Boston is inarguably the worst team in it. Playing 52 games per season in the best division in baseball doesn't bode well for the Red Sox's record. Then again, neither does the team the front office is willingly choosing to field.

FanGraphs predicts the Red Sox will land in last place in the AL East ... again

The most frightening part is that the teams around the Red Sox have gotten even better since last year while Boston has gotten worse. Baltimore traded for Corbin Burnes. New York signed Marcus Stroman and traded for Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo. Toronto was able to snatch up Justin Turner after the Red Sox turned complacent. And all Boston has done is lose three pitchers and attempt to replace them with Lucas Giolito and disguised relievers.

Despite landing as the last-place club in the division, though, the Red Sox would be wild-card contenders in any other division. ZiPS has listed the Sox at 79-83, just 11 games behind the first-place Orioles at 90-72. It's striking that the 101-win Baltimore team from 2023 has dropped down to 90 wins with Burnes on the roster, but for Sox fans, this is the brightest spot in the predictions — if Boston is going to be in last place, it's not a genuine reflection on their roster and rather a product of their environment.

The Red Sox may be looking down the barrel of their third-straight last-place season, the fourth in five years. But the offseason isn't over. There are still top-tier players that need jobs.

And Boston is a top-tier franchise that could lift itself out of last place with a few moves if it wanted to.

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