The MLB season is opening up this week and we’re posting ten bold Red Sox predictions in our latest Titletown Ten post. There are a lot of question marks heading into the season including positional battles, injuries, and the starting rotation. As we posted last week, there has been increasing negativity in Red Sox Nation as we head into Opening Day. However, the Red Sox have a talented team and they are expected to contend this season. So, let’s get to it!
Here are First Score Boston’s ten predictions on the 2016 Boston Red Sox.
1. Mookie Betts will finish in the Top Five in the American League MVP Voting. After posting a very solid numbers in 2015, Betts is poised to take another big step forward this year. Last year, Betts hit .291 with 18 home runs and 77 RBI’s. This year, he’ll hit above .310 with 20+ home runs and he’ll score over 100 runs with some solid bats hitting behind him. Last year, Betts had 21 stolen bases. He’ll have 30+ this year. With solid defense in addition to his offensive capabilities, Betts will cement himself as one of the top players in MLB at age 23. The ceiling continues to be very high for this talented player.
2. Rick Porcello will finish second in wins on the Red Sox. Question: After David Price, which Red Sox starting pitcher is the most durable? Answer: Rick Porcello. This is not suggest that Porcello is the second best pitcher in the rotation. Eduardo Rodriguez is going to miss games to start the season. We all know about Clay Buchholz’ durability. Joe Kelly has never pitched 135 innings in a season. Porcello is the starting pitcher of the four who is the most likely to pitch 175-200 innings. He has made at least 27 starts in seven straight seasons. The Red Sox are going to score a lot of runs. Porcello is capable of keeping them in games and pitching six or seven innings in most of his starts. Despite a poor spring, the prediction here is 13 wins for Porcello.
3. Christian Vazquez will emerge as the Red Sox starting catcher. Blake Swihart is going to start the year as the starter. Vazquez simply needs more time after recovering from Tommy John surgery last year. Vazquez is an elite defender who will make the Red Sox pitching staff better just by being behind the plate. The thought here is that it will take time for Vazquez to get used to playing every day and that Swihart will fill the position while that happens. Once Vazquez is ready, he’ll be the guy. At some point, the Red Sox are going to need to make a decision on who their catcher of the future will be. One guy will likely have to go. That could happen this year.
4. Hanley Ramirez will not work out at first base. If you’ve been reading this blog since the beginning of Spring Training, you’ll know that this has been the prediction here all along. We’re sticking with it! Most reports are stating that Ramirez has fit in nicely at first base this spring. Let’s see how he does in regular season game for a month or two before we start putting him in the Gold Glove conversations. The Red Sox have two Gold Glove caliber middle infielders and if there’s any sign of Ramirez not working out at first base, the Red Sox will need to move quickly. They have an option to move Travis Shaw to first base.
5. David Price will win the American League Cy Young Award. Price finished second in the Cy Young voting in 2015 after posting an 18-5 record with a league leading 2.45 ERA. In 2016, he’ll win 21 games and will be a major factor in getting the Red Sox back in playoff contention. There’s a lot of pressure for Price to perform well in Boston. Many fans have pointed out his inability to step up in big games in the postseason. However, many fans are forgetting that this is a pitcher who has been very successful pitching in the American League East. In addition, Price has posted a 6-1 record with a 1.95 career ERA at Fenway Park in 11 career starts. He’s also 11-1 in Toronto and 8-2 at Yankee Stadium. Can’t handle the pressure?
6. Brock Holt will not be the Red Sox starting left fielder by June 1st. Holt has been given the job as the starting LF on Opening Day. However, he does not produce enough power offensively to be an every day corner outfielder. His career high in home runs is four. Holt is the most valuable as a super utility player and he’ll likely cement himself in the infield if there’s an injury or an under-performing player. The Red Sox will need to hope that either Rusney Castillo or Chris Young show that they can play more regularly or the Red Sox may need to look to trade for a corner outfielder before the trade deadline. Or, perhaps Andrew Benintendi will be called up earlier than expected.
7. Jackie Bradley, Jr. will hit over .280 with 15+ home runs. Bradley has a lot to prove this season. He showed some glimpses of having success at the plate in the second half of last year. His .832 OPS and 43 RBI’s in just 74 games were very solid coming from a hitter at the bottom of the lineup. Bradley will show more consistency this year and prove that he’s more than capable of being a starting MLB centerfielder. After all, he’s the best defensive center fielder in MLB.
8. Pablo Sandoval will play at least 110 games for the Red Sox. Sandoval is starting the season on the bench and he has limited flexibility as he only can really play third base. Having said that, if there becomes a need at the first base, third base, or designated hitter positions, Sandoval will be a starter again. Sandoval is a winning player and this could be a good story once he has the opportunity to get himself back into the every day lineup.
9. David Ortiz, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, David Price, and Craig Kimbrel will all be American League All Stars. It’s certainly not normal to have five players from one team on the AL All Star Team, but this team is loaded with talent. This would be a major shift from last year as Brock Holt was the team’s lone representative. Dustin Pedroia is also a possibility here as well.
10. The Red Sox will make it to the MLB Postseason in 2016. To be more specific, the Red Sox will be a Wild Card Team. The prediction here is that the Red Sox will win 87 games. This year will be a major upgrade from the last two and the Sox will be in the pennant race in August and September. With one of the top offenses in the American League and David Price leading the way in the rotation, the Red Sox will get back to their winning ways and will be a contender in 2016. A pennant race will be back in Boston!
We should be in for an interesting and competitive 2016 Boston Red Sox season! We’ll see how these predictions play out…