Matthew Pouliot

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Team Roundup: Red Sox

Thursday, November 2, 2017


Boston Red Sox
2017 Record: 93-69
First place, AL East
Team ERA: 3.70 (4th)
Team OPS: .736 (22nd)




What Went Right

Boston boasted the AL’s second-best pitching staff even though David Price was limited to 11 starts and 2016 All-Star Steven Wright and eighth-inning guy Tyler Thornburg both missed the season. Chris Sale was the AL’s second-best starter, and Drew Pomeranz ranked somewhere in the top 10. Craig Kimbrel was the league’s best reliever. On the offensive side, no one excelled, but there were also no huge holes; the worst OPS belonging to a regular was Jackie Bradley Jr.’s .726. Rafael Devers came up at age 20 and looked like a star in the making. Christian Vazquez showed some offense to go with his excellent defense, batting .290/.330/.404 as he overtook Sandy Leon to become the Red Sox’s starting catcher. Andrew Benintendi didn’t quite match the hype, but he was a solid regular as a 22-year-old rookie, hitting .271/.352/.424.



What Went Wrong

The David Ortiz-less lineup suffered from a power outage all year long. 74 different players hit 25 homers last season and not one played for the Red Sox. Mookie Betts, though still one of the 10-best players in the league, lost 50 points off his average from his near-MVP season in 2016. Xander Bogaerts and Bradley likewise took steps back. Hanley Ramirez had just a .750 OPS as the primary DH. Pablo Sandoval got himself released, even though he was signed through 2019. 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello plummeted to 11-17 with a 4.65 ERA.



Fantasy Slants

**Benintendi surprised with 20 steals to go along with his 20 homers, and if he wants to keep running, he should be at least a top-20 and maybe even a top-10 fantasy outfielder next year. The Red Sox might not have hit much as a whole last season, but things will almost have to be better next year and Fenway remains one of the game’s top parks for hitters. As a likely No. 2 or No. 3 hitter next year, Benintendi could fill it up in all five categories.



**Betts was the second overall pick in many mixed leagues this year. That won’t be the case next year, but he shouldn’t fall too far. Even in a disappointing year, he still managed 24 homers, 101 runs, 102 RBI and 26 steals to go along with his .264 average. The low average was probably a fluke, too; he fanned just 79 times in 712 plate appearances. His average on balls in play was .310 in 2015 and .322 in 2016 before tumbling to .268.

 

**Devers managed to slug .482 in 222 major league at-bats as a 20-year-old, putting him in Stanton-Harper-Correa territory (Mike Trout was a couple of notches above that, coming in at .564 when he was 20). He’s shaky at third and probably won’t stay there for the long haul, but he should be a 30-homer threat next year and a potential monster down the line.

 

** Porcello’s bad year came with no drop in velocity and actually the best strikeout rate of his career. Of course, he’s had similar seasons in the past. In fact, he’s finished with ERAs over 4.50 in five of his nine seasons. One would think he’d bounce back to being average, but with everything hit in the air these days a threat to leave the yard, he needs to get his groundball rate back up some.



**The Red Sox have already lost Dustin Pedroia and Eduardo Rodriguez for the start of 2018, both due to offseason knee surgeries. It doesn’t sound like either will be back before June, and the Red Sox will have to factor both injuries into their offseason plans.



Key Free Agents: Addison Reed, Eduardo Nunez, Mitch Moreland, Doug Fister, Chris Young, Rajai Davis, Fernando Abad

Team Needs: The Red Sox will be looking to inject some power, probably in an upgrade over Moreland at first base. Bringing in a top free agent (or Giancarlo Stanton) would have big consequences when it comes to the luxury tax, but ownership might take the hit anyway. Rotation depth would also be nice, and a second baseman to fill in for Pedroia is a necessity. Re-signing Nunez will be considered, but he’s in line for a healthy multiyear deal after his strong season.



Matthew Pouliot is the Executive Editor of RotoWorld.com and has been doing the site's baseball projections for the last 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @matthewpouliot.
Email :Matthew Pouliot



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