2020 BOSTON RED SOX BASEBALL PREVIEW

MANAGER: Brian O’Halloran

2019 RECORD: 84-78

FIVE YEAR WINNING TREND:

2015:78

2016:93

2017:93

2018:108

2019:84

 

The Boston Red Sox or World Series champions in 2018. For several years they added payroll and traded away prospects to gain that championship. Times have changed in Boston. Overall, it was not built to last. Dave Dombrowski was fired and was replaced by Chaim Bloom. Ownership expected Bloom to cut nearly $40 million in payroll to meet the franchise’s $208 million luxury tax. There is still plenty of talent in Boston, but several key players will not be in a Red Sox uniform this season. Trades and injuries have made the Red Sox look like a sub .500 team on paper.

STARTING PITCHING:

David Price is gone. Traded to Los Angeles along with former MVP Mookie Betts. Former Ace Chris Sale is out for the entire year with Tommy John surgery. That takes away the top two pitchers in the rotation. Now Boston were rely on left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi and Martin Perez as the top three arms. Eovaldi is coming back from surgery and didn’t even make it through April last season. The good news is he has the ability to be a 20 game winner as he is just hitting his prime. After the top three there are several question marks in the rotation.

BULLPEN:

Boston will have several new names coming out of the bullpen this season. Right-hander Brandon Workman regained his 95 mile per hour velocity and features a breaking curve that makes him one of the toughest pitchers in baseball. He will be joined by Matt Barnes, Marcus Walden and Heath Hembree as solid set up men. Left-handers Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor will also be X – factors out of the bullpen. Both have the ability to be strikeout machines again this season. Josh Osich will also look for time out of the bullpen.

MIDDLE INFIELD:

Former MVP Dustin Pedroia has never recovered from a 2017 knee injury. Boston must proceed with the thought he will not play in 2020. The Red Sox will continue to build behind shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who is coming off a career season in which he finished fifth in MVP voting. He will be joined by second baseman José Peraza, a former top – 100 prospect.

CORNER INFIELD:

Third baseman Rafael Devers should be a staple for the next several years. The 23 – year – old hitter led the American League in doubles and total bases in 2019. He has the potential to be a 300+ hitter, 40 home runs and over 100 RBI every season. The Red Sox must find a reliable first baseman after veterans Mitch Moreland and Brock Holt became free agents over the winter. Sam Travis was traded to Texas in the off-season. That leaves Michael Chavis. Travis has legitimate big-league power but is still unproven. Prospect Bobby Dalbec merits a look early in the season.

OUTFIELD:

Things will be different for the Red Sox in 2020. Boston pulled the plug on Mookie Betts trading him to the LA Dodgers along with picture David Price. Now what was once one of the best outfields in baseball has question marks. Jackie Bradley Jr. returns in centerfield and Andrew Benintendi returns in left field. Both are solid but could be trade chips this season. Replacing Betts in right field is still up in the air.

CATCHING:

Boston said goodbye to Sandy Leon. He was a capable catcher but didn’t hit the way the Red Sox had hoped. Christian Vazquez emerged as a top receiver and slug to 23 home runs while batting .276 in 138 games for the Red Sox last season. He will be backed up by Kevin Plawecki who spent time with the Mets and Indians.

DESIGNATED HITTER/BENCH:

Getting DH JD Martinez back in Boston was huge. Martinez declined to opt out of his contract, choosing to stay in Boston one more season. While that may have complicated Boston’s desire to cut payroll, it will continue to boost the lineup where Martinez is one of the best hitters in baseball. He hit .304 with 34 home runs and 105 RBI. He is also a leader in the clubhouse.

The bench appears to be filled with projects including Dalbec, Marco Hernandez and Jonathan Arauz.

 

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

252….Line drives with a velocity of at least 95 miles per hour produced by Rafael Devers, the most in major league baseball.

.001….. The difference in OPS between Devers (.916) in is breakout season and Mookie Betts (.915)in his disappointing MVP follow-up season.

3.98….. Marco Hernandez was one of seven players with a home – to – first time of under 4.0 seconds.

29.4…… Hernandez’s average Sprint speed ranked 24th overall.

.353…… Career – worst winning percentage for Chris Sale.

.404…… JD Martinez’s team – leading average against left-handed pitching in 2019.

3……. The amount of hits for second baseman Dustin Pedroia since the start of the 2018 season.

10…… Wins for pitcher Brandon Workman in 2019. Workman became the first pitcher in history to follow a 1 – 10 season (2014) with a 10 – 1 season.

16.9….. Rookie left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez’s strikeouts per nine innings, the highest mark in Red Sox history.

12.3…… Christian Vazquez’s runs saved due to framing, fifth in baseball in 2019.

 

WHAT THE SCOUTS ARE SAYING:

The Red Sox are a good baseball team but have a different mentality than they did in 2018. The wind – at – all – cost mentality has been replaced by saving money. That means Boston fans will see a different product on the field this season. They will have to get extremely lucky to catch the Yankees in the American League East. Hiring Chaim Bloom from Tampa Bay was a stroke of genius and will take Boston in a new direction. Losing Mookie Betts will hurt a lot. Having Chris Sale on the sidelines will also hurt the pitching staff. Though his velocity had continued to be an issue before, he is always come back. Starting pitching will be a huge question mark in Boston this season. They should score a lot of runs even without Betts in the lineup. There is no better run producer then JD Martinez and no better left side of the infield with Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts. Expect Andrew Benintendi to have a bounce back season.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS

Boston still has enough weapons to reach the playoffs in 2020, that’s if everything goes right. They need a big season from Martinez, Bogaerts and Devers. They still don’t have enough starting pitching to win the East. If they remain injury prone, we could easily see a sub –.500 team. The farm system is lousy and the huge payroll will make rebuilding painful and very long.

 

AL PREDICTION: Second AL East

 

TOP PROSPECTS:

SS Cameron Cannon

3B Triston Casas

1B Bobby Dalbac

RHP Bryan Mata

LHP Darwinzon Hernandez

LHP Jay Groome

OF Jarren Duran

RHP Noah Song

RHP Thad Ward

RHP Tanner Houck

OF Gilberto Jiminez