Pitchers and catchers are due to report to Red Sox Spring Training tomorrow, February 13th. After a week of elation for Boston sports fans after the Patriots Super Bowl victory, we now get to move on to the sports team who also has a very good chance to be champions – The Boston Red Sox. After winning the AL East Title and then getting swept in the first round by the Cleveland Indians last year, the season ended with a bitter taste. Taking a look back, it was still a big step forward for this team considering where they were the previous two seasons.
This year, the expectations are very high. Although David Ortiz retired, the Red Sox should be better on paper. They have a strong, young core of position players who are improving every year and this year should be no different. In addition, the team added Chris Sale giving the Red Sox a top three of Sale, Rick Porcello, and David Price. This top three is as good as any in baseball. The Red Sox are, once again, going to have some tough competition in the AL East with the Blue Jays, Orioles, and Yankees. With that said, they are clearly the favorite to win the division. With the addition of Edwin Encarnacion, the Indians are expected to be right there with the Red Sox as the top teams in the American League. This should prove to be a very fun year for Red Sox Nation.
In today’s post, we’re going to discuss ten bold Red Sox predictions for the 2017 season.
#10. Christian Vazquez will win the Red Sox starting catchers job. Vazquez fell off the map last season when Sandy Leon went on a tear at the plate over the course of the summer. However, Leon went back to reality in the at the end of the season and that’s likely to happen again this spring. He is what he is. What we saw for two months last year is not what Sandy Leon has shown over the course of his career. Vazquez now has a full season after recovering from surgery. His defensive abilities highlighted by his great throwing arm should be back to where they were prior to 2015. This is a special defensive player who needs to play. He’ll also hit over .250 with 10 home runs which is more than enough considering his defense.
#9. The Red Sox will regret trading Clay Buchholz. The Red Sox have six starting pitchers. Sale, Porcello, Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright, and Drew Pomeranz. That’s an outstanding top six. However, there’s a high drop off after that. The Red Sox lack starting pitching depth in their minor league system. At some point this season, Henry Owens will be back up with the big club giving up big leads early and often. Meanwhile, while Buchholz has certainly had his ups and downs over the course of his career, there was really no reason to move him. Arms like his have tremendous value. Buchholz will win at least twelve games for the Phillies.
#8. Brock Holt will be the Red Sox starting third baseman by midseason. Sorry. Just not buying in on Pablo Sandoval this year. All reports are that he’s in great shape and is fully ready to handle the position every day. We’ve all seen the pictures by now and he looks good. There was a point he did last year as well before he gained the weight back. To be clear, Holt is not an every day MLB player. However, he’s the best option the Red Sox have after Sandoval. Rafael Devers is pegged to be the next guy at the position, but he’s only 20 years old and he likely won’t be an option until next season.
#7. Andrew Benintendi will win the American League Rookie of the Year Award. Not only will Benintendi win the award, but he will also lead the team in batting average. He’ll hit over .320. Folks, this kid is going to be a superstar and it’s going to happen very quickly just like it did with Mookie Betts. It’s also very likely that he will be at the top of the Red Sox lineup on Opening Day.
#6. David Price will win the American League Cy Young Award. Chris Sale is getting all of the attention on the Red Sox pitching staff as well he should. The person this works out perfectly for is David Price. The pressure is off of him. He can just go out and pitch like he did before he joined the Red Sox. The talent is certainly there. Price will be the Red Sox true ace as they were expecting he would when they signed him. He’ll win at least 20 games and his ERA will be under 3.00.
#5. Hanley Ramirez will hit less than 20 home runs and have less than 80 RBI. Ramirez had an outstanding season last year hitting 30 home runs and driving in 111 runs. He won’t repeat it this year. Ramirez is an inconsistent player and it’s unlikely he will play in 147 games like he did last year. The Red Sox are relying on Ramirez to have another year like last year given that they no longer have Big Papi in the middle of the lineup. The Red Sox will need to get more production from the rest of their lineup to offset Ramirez not putting up big numbers. Which leads us to…
#4. Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, and Jackie Bradley will all hit 25+ home runs. These three players were starting All Stars last year and they will continue to add more power to their games this year. Last year, Betts hit 31 homers, Bradley hit 26, and Bogaerts hit 21. These three players not only bring tremendous pop in the Sox lineup, but they also excel in other areas of the game. There isn’t a team in MLB that has the young, proven talent that the Red Sox have and these three players are the prime reasons why.
#3. Joe Kelly (not Tyler Thornburg or Carson Smith) will land the Red Sox 8th inning role. After missing pretty much the entire season in 2016, Smith is expected to make big contributions to the team this season. Thornburg had a great year last year with a 2.15 ERA for the Brewers. Both pitchers have an excellent shot at having a good season. Kelly has finally gone into the role he belongs in. He has a special gift with his 100+ MPH fastball and he needs to have the opportunity to let it loose. Kelly will have an ERA under 2.00 in 2017.
#2. Blake Swihart will be traded prior to Opening Day. Injuries plagued Swihart last year. The Red Sox have been looking for ways to move him around to get him at bats and the plan backfired last year. Swihart is a catcher and the reality is that there’s just no spot for him in Boston with Vazquez as the catcher of the future.
#1. The Red Sox will have the most wins in Major League Baseball with 99. This team is loaded. Pitching, speed, power…you name it they have it. It’s very difficult to find flaws with this team outside of it’s depth at the minor league level. The core of this team is as strong as any in MLB including the Chicago Cubs. This team is set up to contend for the next 3-5 years. There’s a strong chance that the next parade in Boston will be in October rather than in February.
Well, now we get to sit back and watch how things shape up for the Red Sox over the course of the next seven weeks before we get to Opening Day!
This is setting up to be a very promising season on Yawkey Way.