Believe it or not, the Boston Red Sox won back-to-back AL East titles for the first time ever in 2017. They’ll try and make it three in a row, but the Yankees serve as a major obstacle in their way.
After two straight 93-win seasons and two straight loses in the ALDS, the Sox need to take a step forward, but can they do that? Provided the J.D. Martinez deal gets finalized, the team should have more power in 2018, perhaps the team’s biggest weakness. And, after an inconsistent 2017, the starting pitching should be more reliable in the coming season, even if the names remain the same.
Overall, this team is still young and still talented. There is untapped potential and some truly remarkable stars even though there may be a bit more star power in New York this year. This is the one team in the AL East equipped to stop the Evil Empire which could bring us back to the glory days of the Yankee-Redd Sox rivalry.
2017 Record: 93-69
2017 Moneyline Record: +4.13 Units
2017 Over/Under Total Record: 71-85-6
Current Odds To Win AL: +485
Current Odds To Win AL East: +140
Regular Season Win Total: 91.5
It’s no secret that the Red Sox’s line up missed David Ortiz in his first season away from the game.
While Boston still managed to put together a 93-win season, the power disappeared for the Sox in a season where home runs were flying out of the park everywhere else in baseball. The lack of power put added pressure on the pitching staff and the rest of the team as the Sox needed to string together hits and build rallies to consistently score runs.
The reported offseason acquisition of J.D. Martinez helps the Sox’s pursuit of the third straight AL East title greatly. Provided the deal doesn’t fall apart, Martinez adds plenty of pop to Boston’s order. He slammed 45 home runs between Detroit and Arizona in 2017 and produced a combined .303/.376/.690 slash line.
The Red Sox were tenth in baseball last year in runs scored, but dead last in the AL in homers. Martinez’s bat adds 40 bombs to the order in addition to whatever internal improvements are possible from the likes of Mookie Betts Rafael Devers, Andrew Beneintendi and others. Those extra bombs would put Boston easily back to the middle-of-the-pack in longballs.
With an anchor like Martinez in the middle, the rest of the order fills in nicely around him. Another key acquisition is Eduardo Nunez. The Sox added him at the deadline and brought him back this seasons as an important utility player, keeping players fresh and helping to fill in around the diamond without any lost offense. Nunez will start the year at second with Dustin Pedroia out and serves as great insurance in case of other injuries.
Meanwhile, Mitch Moreland is a good insurance policy now, too. He figures to platoon at first with Hanley Ramirez and between those two and Martinez, they can spell players across the outfield and move the DH role around a bit, too.
While the offense provides a great deal of flexibility and more power, the pitching is also full of plenty of hope. The names are the same as 2017, but the production will—hopefully—improve.
Chris Sale was a huge success in 2017, coming in second in AL Cy Young Award voting after a 17-8 season and 2.90 ERA. Two bad starts against the Indians are likely what prevented Sale from taking home the award.
Behind Sale, Drew Pomeranz had a nice break out season with 17 wins and a 3.32 ERA. He’ll look to repeat while the Sox hope to get more from Rick Porcello and David Price. Price’s injuries lingered in 2017. He pitched to a 3.38 ERA when on the mound and looked good in the postseason so, provided he’s healthy, he’s a dependable arm. Porcello, on the other hand, was healthy, but took a major step backwards after a Cy Young performance in 2016. He and Steven Wright are the lone right-handers so he’ll need to pitch well to help break up the southpaws.
In the bullpen, Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg could be real difference makers. The middle relief leading to Craig Kimbrel in the ninth was problematic at times in Boston last year. Kimbrel was lights out, notching 35 saves and a 1.43 ERA while allowing just 33 hits and 14 walks in 69 innings. He struck out 126. That’s nearly two batters an inning.
If Smith and Thornburg are on, this bullpen just got a lot deeper.
In the end, the Sox are deeper than they were last year and are a strong team. They, however, have a few more question marks than the Yankees and thus figure to finish behind them in the division. That said, there are ways that Boston could topple New York and the Sox are clearly the division’s best hope to beat the Yankees.
|Baltimore Orioles||Baltimore, Maryland||Oriole Park at Camden Yards|
|Boston Red Sox||Boston, Massachusetts||Fenway Park|
|New York Yankees||New York City, New York||Yankee Stadium|
|Tampa Bay Rays||St. Petersburg, Florida||Tropicana Field|
|Toronto Blue Jays||Toronto, Ontario||Rogers Centre|
|CENTRAL||Chicago White Sox||Chicago, Illinois||Guaranteed Rate Field|
|Cleveland Indians||Cleveland, Ohio||Progressive Field|
|Detroit Tigers||Detroit, Michigan||Comerica Park|
|Kansas City Royals||Kansas City, Missouri||Kauffman Stadium|
|Minnesota Twins||Minneapolis, Minnesota||Target Field|
|WEST||Houston Astros||Houston, Texas||Minute Maid Park|
|Los Angeles Angels||Anaheim, California||Angel Stadium|
|Oakland Athletics||Oakland, California||Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum|
|Seattle Mariners||Seattle, Washington||Safeco Field|
|Texas Rangers||Arlington, Texas||Globe Life Park in Arlington|
|EAST||Atlanta Braves||Atlanta, Georgia||SunTrust Park|
|Miami Marlins||Miami, Florida||Marlins Park|
|New York Mets||New York City, New York||Citi Field|
|Philadelphia Phillies||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||Citizens Bank Park|
|Washington Nationals||Washington, D.C.||Nationals Park|
|CENTRAL||Chicago Cubs||Chicago, Illinois||Wrigley Field|
|Cincinnati Reds||Cincinnati, Ohio||Great American Ball Park|
|Milwaukee Brewers||Milwaukee, Wisconsin||Miller Park|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania||PNC Park|
|St. Louis Cardinals||St. Louis, Missouri||Busch Stadium|
|WEST||Arizona Diamondbacks||Phoenix, Arizona||Chase Field|
|Colorado Rockies||Denver, Colorado||Coors Field|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Los Angeles, California||Dodger Stadium|
|San Diego Padres||San Diego, California||Petco Park|
|San Francisco Giants||San Francisco, California||AT&T Park|
March 29-April 1: at Tampa Bay Rays
April 2-3: at Miami Marlins
April 5-8: vs Tampa Bay Rays
April 10-12: vs New York Yankees
April 13-16: vs Baltimore Orioles
April 17-19: at Los Angeles Angels
April 20-22: at Oakland Athletics
April 24-26: at Toronto Blue Jays
April 27-29: vs Tampa Bay Rays
April 30-May 2: vs Kansas City Royals
Once Spring Training is over, the Boston Red Sox will stay in Florida for another week, taking on the Rays and Marlins in back-to-back series before getting to enjoy a three-series homestand at Fenway Park. The middle series of the homestand will come against the Yankees. This is the biggest test in the season’s first month for the Sox. They’ll try to take the series and start off strong against the only team expected to finish ahead of them in the AL East.
Aside for the series against New York, the rest of the season’s opening month is quite favorable for the Red Sox, giving them a chance to get off to a strong start. They play the rebuilding Tampa Bay Rays on three separate occasions before the calendar flips to May and they get out of division series against the Marlins, Oakland A’s and Kansas City Royals to boot.
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