With Major League Baseball's opening day just weeks away we near the moment of truth for this questionable team. The offseason certainly did not help a team already coming off a disappointing season, losing some key players and even their manager. Here we are going to set up the best unit possible (ignoring current injuries) while also predicting each player's statistical performance.
1) Andrew Benintendi, LF
Projection: 110 R, 23 HR, 90 RBI, .288 Batting Average
With the leadoff role comes the increased likelihood that you will score more runs and less RBI's. But with such a solid lineup, it is likely that Benintendi gets even more RBI's than last year in addition to more runs. We have also seen recent hints of more power and a better eye, which should contribute to a career-high in homers and a near career-high batting average.
2) Xander Bogaerts, SS
Projection: 100 R, 27 HR, 105 RBI, .302 Batting Average
As the new leader of the team following the loss of Mookie, Bogaerts will produce an MVP-level performance once again. It is unlikely he will be as good as last year, but he should be pretty close if not occasionally equal.
3) Rafael Devers, 3B
Projection: 115 R, 31 HR, 103 RBI, .305 Batting Average
Devers could regress after the insane breakout year in 2019, but I believe the odds are greater that he will repeat it. The defensive side of the ball should see the biggest jump in his game, as he goes from terrible, to above-average to maybe even great at third.
4) J.D. Martinez, DH
Projection: 95 R, 40 HR, 110 RBI, .295 Batting Average
It is hard to see Martinez continue his outstanding play as he continues into his early 30s. That's not to say he won't be good, or even an All-Star, but expect a drop-off in hits and runs. Yet I also wouldn't be surprised if he hit more homers, as we saw Ortiz do as he went into his late 30s.
5) Alex Verdugo, RF
Projection: 68 R, 17 HR, 75 RBI, .290 Batting Average
Providing Verdugo stays healthy after recovering from his back injury, he could greatly reduce the damage from the offseason's losses. He should have a career year in basically every statistical category and potentiallyi flirt with a .300 batting average at points during the season. And while he is not Mookie right now, he has the potential to be.
6) Michael Chavis, 2B
Projection: 70 R, 25 HR, 73 RBI, .270 Batting Average
Chavis had a relatively successful first year with the Sox and should build on his successes for the upcoming campaign. Like Verdugo, you should see career highs in every statistical category as his playtime increases and position becomes more stable. While he played the majority of last year at first, there is a hole at second that is wiser to fill with Chavis.
7) Christian Vázquez, C
Projection: 63 R, 19 HR, 68 RBI, .265 Batting Average
Despite being stuck at seventh in the lineup, that by no means says Christian is a bad hitter. In fact, all it speaks to is the still dominant offense Boston can boast. Vazquez was one of the top catchers on both sides of the ball and will continue to produce as he becomes more relied upon than ever before. Hopefully, he will finally get recognized this season, as he is still without a significant award to his name.
8) Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Projection: 80 R, 22 HR, 65 RBI, .264 Batting Average
JBJ will be competing with Pillar for this spot, but if he can have that projected offensive impact then he will play the majority of games at center field. Last time he had stats anywhere close to this he was named an All-Star. And while Spring Training isn't everything, he is still showing off insane hitting power and eye that supports the chance he will break out once again.
9) Mitch Moreland, 1B
Projection: 61 R, 20 HR, 65 RBI, .248 Batting Average
The one true weak point in this lineup (if Bradley does, in fact, become a solid hitter) appears to be Moreland. We could see a prospect come up and take this spot later in the season, but for now Moreland is still the best for the job.
Starting Pitchers and Closer
1) Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP
Projection: 17-6 W-L, 3.80 ERA, 65 BB, 195 SO
E-Rod was the Red Sox top starting pitcher as he tried to make up for the disappointing performances of the other starters. This year should be much of the same, as he looks even better than last year during his Spring Training performances.
2) Chris Sale, LHP
Projection: 14-5 W-L, 3.45 ERA, 35 BB, 240 SO
There are two reasons why Sale is at two here, one being his potentially catastrophic injury and the other is the unlikelihood that he will be as bad as last year regardless. Last year was very much out of character for the Ace, and even the injury won't change the high probability he will return stronger than ever. Thanks to a new pitching staff, and catching the injury early, Sale could be back to himself when he begins to pitch again.
3) Nathan Eovaldi, RHP
Projection: 8-6 W-L, 3.95 ERA, 38 BB, 98 SO
I see a comeback campaign from Eovaldi, with him becoming a great third starter on the Red Sox. That's not to say he will live up to his $17 Million salary, but he will get close. He has not given up a single run in Spring Training, with eight strikeouts and only three hits over five innings. It is clear just from watching him over the past couple of weeks that his pitches are much better, with greater movement and speed that can translate to success when it actually matters.
4) Collin McHugh, RHP
Projection: 10-6, 4.37 ERA, 41 BB, 115 SO
While McHugh has drifted away from starting over the past two years, that is the capacity the Red Sox would most likely use him in. He was a pretty good starter from 2014 to 2017, with a 3.70 ERA and a 48-28 record over 102 games. Since then, while his position may have changed his skills appears to have not gone away. As primarily a reliever he has had a 3.37 ERA with no apparent holes in his game. They may have found a gem here, though its a shame he's only here for one year.
5) Martin Pérez, LHP
Projection: 12-7, 4.73 ERA, 62 BB, 127 SO
Perez may not be the best pitcher in the world, but he still is a solid fifth option as a starter. Perez has shown impressive durability and endurance, with the tools to put together great performances. He plays best when the game is on the line, hence the winning record last year despite the well over five ERA. If this is the worst the Sox have to offer bthey are better off than many believe.
Closer: Brandon Workman, RHP
Projection: 9-2 W-L, 2.73 ERA, 18 SV, 31 BB, 84 SO
Workman was one of many Red Sox players that went unrecognized due to how the season went as a whole. But if the Red Sox can put it together this year even a slightly worse performance could earn him an All-Star selection. Workman could be one of the best relievers in the game, but will need a repeat of last year to cement that status.