Happy April y'all. The start of a new month means new sports events. For example, January is the National Championship, February is the Super Bowl, March is March Madness and April is the start of baseball season. America's favorite pastime kicked into full gear yesterday with the Yankees and Rays. The Red Sox first game will be today against the Pirates at Fenway. The Sox are ready for revenge after an amazing regular season but a disappointing postseason. As the new season approaches, here is an idea of the possible starters for the start of the season.
Rick Porcello: The AL Cy Young is ready to prove that he was the right choice to start over Chris Sale. In Spring Training went 2-0 with a 7.07 ERA in four starts. Don't worry though, last season Porcello went 0-2 with a 9.77 ERA and then went on to 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA during the regular season which made him an ace. Bold prediction of the season: he will have a no hitter at least once this season and repeat as the Cy Young winner.
Dustin Pedroia: The lead-off batter had 19 hits and 4 RBI's in 17 games during Spring Training and proving last season that there is not a better lead-off man on this team, having 201 hits, 15 HRs and 74 RBIs with a .318 average and proved he works well under pressure, winning us a key game last year against the Rays in 10-innings, giving us that twelve game winning streak at the end of then season.
Andrew Benintendi: Future superstar Benny Baseball moves up from last to second in the batting order, and rightfully so. Even though he only played in the majors for about six weeks in total last season, he made a statement: 31 hits, 2 HRs and 14 RBI's and making the catch of the year against the Rays. After bulking up during the off-season, he looked even better in Spring Training with 21 hits, 3 HRs and 11 RBIs. With his first full season about to start, Benintendi can easily win AL Rookie of the Year and has proven his amazing few weeks at the end of last season wasn't just beginner's luck.
Mookie Betts: Last season's runner up for the AL MVP is ready to make another run at that. His Spring Training stats: 16 hits, 2 HRs, 10 RBIs while last season he had 214 hits, 31 HRs and 113 RBIs. Bold prediction: Betts will win the AL MVP this year.
Hanley Ramirez: There is not a better person to fill the shoes of the DH position post-Papi. All last season, there was no question about him becoming the new Sox DH once David Ortiz retired, basically being his backup the whole season. Hanley had 157 hits, 30 HRs and 111 RBIs. Spring Training gave us the first look at what he would be like in that position and he did not disappoint: 19 hits, 3 HRs and 14 RBIs. Although it will be weird not having David Ortiz in the lineup, Hanley is the perfect fit for this new era.
Pablo Sandoval: Missing all but three games last season to a shoulder injury, Sandoval is back and the main man at 3rd base after the Sox traded Travis Shaw to the Brewers back in December. His inconsistency with his health has questioned how reliable he will be this year but after a tremendous change during the year off, he came in and left a huge mark in Spring Training: 22 hits, 5 HRs and 20 RBIs. If he can stay consistent with his health, he will be a major threat this season in the league. And if he ends up losing his position, Brock Holt is an amazing third baseman.
Xander Bogaerts: Although missing a majority of Spring Training this season for the World Baseball Classic, Bogaerts has proven what an asset he is to this team in the past year. Last season he had 192 hits, 21 HRs and 89 RBIs and in his nine games this year, he had 8 hits, 1 HR and 1 RBI. He has drawn up a controversial debate on why he is still in the mid to back part of the lineup when he is such a great batter. Personally, I like the decision. We need someone in the back of the lineup who is consistently good that will help us if we get into rough parts of a game. But it looks like we will just wait and see how this one plays out.
Jackie Bradley Jr: 2016 was this center fielder's year. He had a killer season with 149 hits, 26 HRs and 87 RBIs. In Spring Training, he had 16 hits, 4 HRs and 11 RBIs. His stats just keep getting better each year and this year won't be any different.
Mitch Moreland: This is the new first baseman's first year with the Sox. During Spring Training, he had 15 hits, 1 HR and 16 RBIs. Last season, Moreland had 107 hits, 22 HRs and 60 RBIs with the Rangers. It is going to be so much fun to see what he can bring to the Sox this season.
Sandy Leon: Last but definitely not least. Leon proved last season that when it comes to the Catcher position, he is the main man. 78 hits, 7 HRs and 35 RBIs. In Spring Training, he had 9 hits, 2 HRs and 5 RBIs. His main problem last season was letting up. He was the player that came through the most for about two months, then got quiet. But this year will be a little different- if that happens again, we have Christian Vázquez as the best catcher backup.
Main point: The Red Sox are loaded.
Bold Prediction: The Red Sox will repeat as the AL East champions and beat the Chicago Cubs to win the 2017 World Series.