Red Sox Projected Wins

Las Vegas put out their first season win projections for the MLB on Friday. The Red Sox current projection by Vegas is to win 90.5 games. This projection believes the Red Sox are tied for the 4th best team in the MLB with the Nationals and the 2nd best team in the AL just behind the Indians. This would mean that the Red Sox would win the AL East and host their first playoff series. The Red Sox made arguably the most impactful move of the offseason with the acquisition of Chris Sale, a 5-time all star and consistent Cy Young Award candidate. With the addition of Sale the Red Sox projected starting rotation may be one of the best in the league.

Projected Starting Rotation:

1) Chris Sale

2) David Price

3) Rick Porcello

4) Eduardo Rodriguez

5) Steven Wright

The big three in Sale, Price, and Porcello are pretty much locked in as the 1-3 barring injury and have the potential to be the best 1-3 combination in baseball. The 4 and 5 spots in the rotation are up for grabs and may be decided during Spring Training. Eduardo Rodriguez,  Steven Wright and Drew Pomeranz will be fighting it out for the final two spots in the rotation. Rodriguez has the most promise as a young lefty with at times electric stuff. Rodriguez was inconsistent last year and battled injuries that held him out part of the year. In my eyes Rodriguez showed enough last season to prove he deserves to be in the starting rotation. Steven Wright on the other hand, is an aging knuckleball pitcher who had the best year of his career in 2016. During the first half of the year Wright pitched himself into the all star game before falling off in the second half of the season. Wright pitched a career high 152 innings last year after recording a previous high of only 72 innings in 2015. Wright, like any knuckleballer, is currently a wild card but I expect for him to step up and maintain last year’s level of competition. I have Drew Pomeranz drawing the short straw even though the Red Sox gave one of their best prospects to the Padres in order to trade for him last season. After being traded to the Red Sox Pomeranz simply did not pitch to the caliber of an MLB starter. Pomeranz will have the ability to prove himself in Spring Training but I only see 1 spot between him and Rodriguez. If Pomeranz and Rodriguez both find their way into the starting rotation they will have 4 lefties and 1 righty (Porcello) which is not diverse enough for my liking. However, Pomeranz will play a major role and make a handful of starts throughout the year because no starting rotation ever stays fully healthy.

With the rotation looking the best it has been in recent memory, we cannot forget the major loss the lineup will have to overcome: the retirement of David Ortiz. One of the greatest hitters of all time and a staple in the middle of the Red Sox lineup for 14 years will missed throughout the season. The Red Sox added Mitch Moreland who looks to be the opening day first basemen with Hanley Ramirez moving into the designated hitters spot.

Projected Lineup:

1) Dustin Pedroia  (2B)

2) Xander Bogaerts  (SS)

3) Mookie Betts  (RF)

4) Hanley Ramirez  (DH)

5) Pablo Sandoval  (3B)

6) Mitch Moreland  (1B)

7) Andrew Benintendi  (LF)

8) Jackie Bradley Jr.  (CF)

9) Sandy Leon  (C)

The wild cards in this Red Sox lineup are Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Pablo Sandoval. Benintendi is one of the best prospects in the MLB and has as sweet of a swing as almost any major league hitter. In 34 games last season he hit .288 with 2 homeruns and 34 RBIs. After a great month in the big leagues I am optimistic about what he can bring the this lineup in the upcoming season. Bradley started off last season on an absolute tear and looked like he may win the batting title. However, after the all star break Bradley struggled and finished the year hitting .267. His speed and defensive ability will be a major reason why Bradley will contribute so much to this team. The final and “largest” wild card on the team is Pablo Sandoval. Sandoval missed all of last season with a shoulder injury, however he had already lost his job to Travis Shaw who was traded during this offseason. Sandoval arrived at the Spring Training facility earlier this week and appears to be in much better shape than last year. If Sandoval can replicate or come close to his 2014 numbers he will be an upgrade from Shaw offensively. What many people forget is that Sandoval was a plus fielder when he was with the Giants. He posted a negative 13 runs saved in 2015 but posted a positive 7 in runs saved before he gained the weight and came to Boston. In the end it appears that the better shape Sandoval is in the better he plays defensively.

Final Wins Projection:

95 Wins

I believe the Red Sox will find a way to win at least 91 games and hit the over of 90.5 wins set by Las Vegas. As devastating of a loss that Big Papi is to this Red Sox team I believe that this team is too talented to not win 90 games this year. In a division that I believe may be close to the worst in baseball next year due to the Blue Jays loss of Encarnacion, the youth of the Yankees, and the simple lack of ability on the Rays, the Red Sox should control first place for almost all of the year. In 2016 every division winner won more than 90 games and would hit the over of the Red Sox 90.5 win projection. My fear for this team is the youth and possible lack of leadership in the clubhouse. It is time for Pedroia to step up and take that leadership role. If the Red Sox can avoid the major skids in the middle of the season that most young teams go through I believe that they will be an easy pick for the winner of the AL East. My x-factor on the pitching staff is Eduardo Rodriguez. If he finally puts it all together this year the Red Sox will have 4 top-end starting pitchers to go along with their extremely talented lineup. My offensive x-factor is Andrew Benintendi. I am almost certain he will one day be one of the best hitters in the league. With a consistent spot in the lineup I see him flourishing and making that leap we are all waiting for. I am optimistic about the 2017 season and cannot wait to see how the youth on this team comes together and grows.