2014 Record – 71-91 – 5th in AL East
Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson
Ryan Lavarnway, Alex Wilson, Yoenis Cespedes, Rubby De La Rosa
Projected 2015 Lineup
1) CF Mookie Betts
2) 2B Dustin Pedroia
3) LF Hanley Ramirez
4) DH David Ortiz
5) 3B Pablo Sandoval
6) 1B Mike Napoli
7) RF Shane Victorino
8) C Christian Vazquez
9) SS Xander Bogaerts
Projected 2015 Starters
1) Clay Buccholz
2) Rick Porcello
3) Joe Kelly
4) Justin Masterson
5) Wade Miley
Any team snagging either Hanley Ramirez or Pablo Sandoval in the offseason would consider that as a win. For a team to bring in both, well that can instantly take an offense up quite a few rungs within the league ranks. Just look at that lineup. There’s hardly any hole, and with the speed and power combined, there should be no shortage of runs for the Sox. Where things could be a bit more difficult is with the pitching staff, but it’s still a strong rotation. They don’t have the threat of a no-hitter every night like some of their inter-divisional competition, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this Boston staff is able to find their way near the top of the league in ERA. All in all, this should be a much more fun season for the Red Sox than 2014 was.
X-Factor – Mookie Betts
Mookie Betts could end up having one of the best years in the majors. Bill James, the closest thing to a stats god if there is one, projects him to swipe 40 bases, hit 41 double and 14 homers, and do all that with a .405 on-base percentage. If he does that, then it’s going to be a heck of a lot easier for the Bo Sox to score runs.
Most To Prove – Pablo Sandoval
It feels a bit weird to talk about a guy who is annually one of the best players in the league, especially at his position, as having the most to prove, but Sandoval is going from San Francisco where he was essentially worshiped to Boston, a town that’s notably hard on their players. Will the loveable third baseman be loved by the Beantown faithful? And more importantly, will his bat help them make the playoffs?
2015 Impact Prospect – Blake Swihart – C
Almost every team needs a solid backstop in the minors, but very few actually have that guy. Considering catcher may be the big league roster’s weakest position, one injury or an extended slump could mean that Swihart finds his way into the bigs before too long. Last year, he hit .293/.341/.469 with 13 homers between AA and AAA. But the big plus is his defense. He gave up zero passed balls in 96 games and threw out nearly half the runners stealing on him. Don’t be surprised if there’s a Gold Glove going to Swihart in three years.
Why They’re Worth Watching
Boston could easily go first to worst to first again. There are very few teams that have those sorts of ups and downs in quick succession, and while that’s helped along by the tough division, the moves this team made in the offseason should have even the most skeptical fan excited. They’re going to have a high-powered offense, a tough rotation, and you get to see baseball at Fenway. What more could you want?
Betts tears it up and exceeds what he’s projected to do, both Ramirez and Sandoval play at their peak level, and the rest of the division falters. 99 wins.
The strength of their schedule is shown by some tough losses in the division and Ramirez is unable to stay healthy. 84 wins.
Projected Record: 93-69