The Boston Red Sox are set to open up the 2017 MLB season against the Pittsburgh Pirates tomorrow, Monday April 3rd, so here is my preview and prediction for the Red Sox this year.
The biggest story to begin the offseason was the official retirement of David Ortiz, who went out on top after a monster .315/38 HR/127 RBI season at age 40. This will certainly leave a hole in the lineup as the Red Sox experiment with the DH position throughout the season. However, the Red Sox did pick up a nice lefty bat in first baseman Mitch Moreland. Moreland hit .233 with 22 HR and 60 RBI for Texas last season and is a nice addition to the bench.
The Red Sox traded Travis Shaw to Milwaukee in exchange for pitcher Tyler Thornburg. Thornburg is a great pickup that will boost a bullpen that lost Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, and Brad Ziegler. Thornburg went 8-5 with a 2.15 ERA in 67 games for the Brewers last season. However, trading away their starting third baseman indicates that Red Sox expect a bounceback season from Pablo Sandoval, who has been nothing short of a disaster since signing in Boston after the 2015 season.
The Red Sox saved their best for last by acquiring Cy Young caliber starter Chris Sale from the White Sox in exchange for a package that included #1 prospect center fielder Yoan Moncada. Sale won 17 games with a 3.34 ERA and 233 strikeouts for the White Sox last season. The Red Sox now have three starters – Porcello, Price, and Sale – that could be dominant #1 starters throughout the season.
The Red Sox may have lost their best hitter from last season, but they still have an MVP candidate in the prime of his career in Mookie Betts. In 2016 Betts hit .318 with 214 hit, 31 Home Runs, 113 RBI, 122 runs and 26 stolen bases for a first place Red Sox team. Betts is an all around player as well, bringing speed and playmaking ability to the outfield. I personally predict that he will be even better this year and bring home the MVP trophy. There are high expectations for another member of the Red Sox outfield as well, rookie left fielder Andrew Benintendi. Benintendi hit .295 in 105 AB for the Red Sox last year after being called up.
I expect Pedroia to be the same Pedroia both on and off the field this year and put together another solid season. The key for him will be to stay healthy, as injuries had derailed him in recent seasons before last year. Pedroia may also be looked on to play a bigger role as the veteran leader of the clubhouse now that Ortiz is gone. The big question mark in this lineup will be Pablo Sandoval. The Red Sox traded away both third basemen they had in Shaw and Moncada, which seems to indicate that they think Sandoval can turn it around. However, if he gets off to a bad start or gets injured, things could get ugly quick. I expect the Red Sox to be a Top 5 offense in the MLB this year.
There are high expectations for the Red Sox pitching staff this season, which features a trio of Cy Young caliber pitchers. The current ace is Rick Porcello, who went 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA and won the AL Cy Young award. Porcello was the benefit of lots of run support last season, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t match last season’s win total. However, he has been nothing but consistent since the second half of 2015, and I expect another very solid season from Porcello.
David Price was the biggest signing of the 2015 offseason, but had a disappointing first year in Boston. After a rocky start, Price did play better in the second half of the season. However, he once again got rocked in the playoffs, which has been an issue for him throughout this career. He will begin this season on the DL, but the pressure will be back on when he makes his season debut.
One thing that might help take the pressure of Price is the trade for Chris Sale. Many would consider Sale the best pitcher on this staff now. However, he will have to deal with the same Boston pressure that Price dealt with last year, so it will be interesting to see if he thrives in it or can’t handle the big stage.
The Red Sox went 93-69 and won the AL East last year. I expect them to be right around that number again this year. My prediction is that the Red Sox will go 94-68 and win the AL East for the second straight year.
Let me know you predictions in the comments down below.