In the last five seasons, the Boston Red Sox have won the AL East twice and came in last three times, nothing in the middle. It’s been quite a swing for Boston over the last half decade, but the team seems to still be on an upswing with a collection of youngsters all coming into their prime and a very strong starting staff to help prop them up. Before turning things around last year, the starting staff was the issue, but recent additions have now turned that into a strength.
In reality, this is one of the most balanced teams in the American League. There are some questions about depth here and there, but there are generally strong answers in every facet of the game from starting pitching to relief to offense to defense.
2016 Record: 93-69
2016 Moneyline Record: +2.46 Units
2016 Over/Under Total Record: 77-78-7
Current World Series Odds: +556
Current Odds To Win AL: +257
Current Odds To Win AL East: -110
Regular Season Win Total: 92
Much will be made of the retirement of David Ortiz and the impact that will have on the lineup. While it’s fair to assume that he provided protection and guidance to some of the young bats, even without the soon-to-be Hall of Famer in the heart of the order, this is still a stacked lineup.
The Red Sox led baseball in runs scored last year. Yes, Ortiz led Boston in OPS at 1.021, but he wasn’t the lone All-Star level bat. Mookie Betts was runner-up in the MVP voting with a .897 OPS and he’s only headed into this age 24 season. In addition, Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts, Hanley Ramirez, and Dustin Pedroia all had OPS number north of .800.
To help fill the offense lost with Ortiz’s retirement, the Sox are expecting a big rookie campaign from Andrew Benintendi. The young outfielder did not disappoint in a short sample size at the end of last year. He’ll undoubtedly go through some struggles as all youngsters do, but he’s a big time prospect and could combine with Bradley and Betts to make one of the best young outfielders in baseball, both offensively and defensively.
Really, the biggest question for this team on offense is: who exactly is Pablo Sandoval? Since signing with Boston, Sandoval has been an unmitigated disaster. But he looks in better shape this spring and has a history of being a clutch hitter. Still, even if Sandoval fails, the team has a good insurance policy in jack-of-all-trades utility man Brock Holt.
As for the pitching, the Sox have a deep rotation. The top three are as good as anyone with Chris Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello. Two of those three have won Cy Young awards while the other, Sale, is probably the best of the bunch. Even after the big three, the Sox have a collection of viable starting candidates though there is some concern over health with Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright. They’re all viable options, but there’s not too much depth beyond them.
In the bullpen, a midseason return of Carson Smith would go a long ways. This team lost a number of set-up men and while they added Tyler Thornburg ahead of Craig Kimbrel, there are questions beyond those two.
April 3-6: vs. Pirates
April 7-10: at Tigers
April 11-12: vs. Orioles
April 14-17: vs. Rays
April 18-20: at Blue Jays
April 21-23: at Orioles
April 25-27: vs. Yankees
April 28-30: vs. Cubs
The Sox get to start the season at home, but it’s an interesting matchup pinning Boston against the National League Pirates, but after a brief road trip to Detroit, the Red Sox kick off their AL East competition with a string of divisional games throughout the majority of the season’s opening month. The Sox are projected to be the cream of the crop in both the AL East and the American League as a whole. With so many early divisional games, Boston will get an early test to see if the prognosticators are correct. The season’s opening month is capped with a three-game weekend set against the Cubs in what many think could be an early season World Series preview.
As for the opening series against Pittsburgh itself, it’s not a particularly glamorous matchup, as these two teams lack history, but it should be filled with storylines. The Pirates still expect to compete this year, pinning two potential contenders head-to-head. Meanwhile, Sox fans will get their first look at a David Ortiz-less team for the first time since he joined the squad prior to the 2003 season.
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The 2017 Major League Baseball season is tentatively set to begin on April 2, 2017, and feature three games, including the 2016 World Series champions Chicago Cubs facing off against the St. Louis Cardinals, which will be ESPN's first Sunday Night Baseball game of the year.
The 88th MLB All-Star Game will be hosted by the Miami Marlins and will be played at Marlins Park on July 11, 2017. It will be televised nationally on Fox.
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