Leading up to the start of the 2017 Regular Season, Diamond Hoggers will preview each of baseball’s 30 teams . Today’s preview features the Boston Red Sox. Stay tuned until Opening Day as Diamond Hoggers previews every team one by one until the beginning of the 2017 season.
The Red Sox are going to be one of the best watches in all of baseball in 2017. They met a disappointing ending at Fenway Park at the hands of the Cleveland Indians, and David Ortiz rode into the sunset.
But this is Mookie Betts’ team now. And Mookie is quite simply, the best all-around baseball player in the game not named Mike Trout. He’s really that good, and he could easily win the American League batting title and Most Valuable Player this season.
The Red Sox made what we think were two of the better moves of the entire off-season; acquiring Chris Sale to be their staff ace and also Tyler Thornburg who is one of the finest relief arms in the game.
It’s going to be an exciting season in Beantown where they are sure to be relevant (good for the sport of baseball), exciting, and possibly contend for the AL Pennant.
Major Off-season Moves:
Projected Starting Lineup:
Without Big Papi, there may be a short retreat but there will be no surrender with this group. This is a high-octane highlighted by one of baseball’s best players in Mookie Betts.
Dustin Pedroia may be getting longer in the tooth but is still one of the most productive players at his position in the league. He hit .318 last season and on-base’d at a .376 clip. While it’s Betts’ team now, Pedroia assumes the role of leader and is a fine lead-off hitter.
Andrew Benintendi enters the year with enormous expectations. He hit .295 in 34 games and had a few big knocks in the playoffs. He’s rated as the top prospect in all of baseball by several publications entering the season. Betts will hold down the three hole and make a run at the batting title. Some iteration of Xander Bogaerts and Hanley Ramirez will hit four and five; and Bogaerts had his own period last season where he looked like baseball’s best hitter.
Jackie Bradley somewhat working out was merely the cherry on the sundae for the Red Sox, as he pleasantly surprised in his breakout campaign with 26 homers and an .837 OPS. Pablo Sandoval didn’t have a batting average last season in seven plate appearances, and enters the year as a real question mark. Mitch Moreland was a free agent pick-up who could be mildly interesting, and Sandy Leon figures to share some time with the likes of Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart.
Brock Holt, Chris Young, and Marco Hernandez should all be in the mix in making up a nice veteran bench.
Projected Pitching Staff:
Chris Sale comes over in the big trade that sent Michael Kopech and Yoan Moncada to the Chicago White Sox among others, and will become the new ace in Boston. He comes off a 17-10 season where while pitching to slightly more contact; still fanned 233 hitters in 226 innings.
David Price has a balky elbow right now but until he goes under the knife, he’s penciled in as the number two. He went 17-9 and struck out 228 hitters in 230 innings. He was considered a massive disappointment in Beantown but still posted a respecful 3.99 ERA.
The real surprise was AL Cy Young Rick Porcello, going 22-4 with 189 strikeouts and a 3.15 ERA. If Boston can get anything close to this again out of their three starter, they’re in for big things. Porcello always had that high pedigree but unreached potential.
Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez are pretty exciting options to trot out on days four and five. Their role becomes more clear with the departure of Clay Buccholz.
The bullpen looks great. Craig Kimbrel brings the hammer in the ninth and is set up by the likes of Joe Kelly, Tyler Thornburg, and Carson Smith. Henry Owens and Fernando Abad are also lurking as capable southpaws.
Most publications have them projected to be a 90+ win team, and that seems fairly safe. They’re the odds on favorite to not only win their division but to represent the American League in the World Series. We truly feel they’re better than say; the Cleveland Indians on paper. And with a gun to our head, we’re absolutely predicting them to be there at the end in October. But it does feel like there are some questions that need answered and there is just a little too much youth and uncertainty to call them a virtual lock.
They’ll be one of baseball’s best teams to watch and immensely exciting. Times will remain good for the Sawks for the foreseeable future.