Red Sox preview part I: The Starting Nine

By Mark Paulette

 

Attention all fantasy baseballers, curious Sox fans and random folks alike, Nostra-Markus has peered into his crystal ball and is here to tell you how every member of the Red Sox 25-man roster will do this season. I present to you, part one: ‘The Starting Nine.’

  1. Dustin Pedroia, 2B (2016 stats – .318/15/74, 154 games)

The elder-statesmen of the Sox turns 34 in August, and with Brock Holt likely starting the year on the bench, you would have to imagine manager John Farrell will look to manage Pedey’s reps (likely against the captain’s persistence) to keep him spry for the pennant stretch. His 154 games and 201 hits of a year ago were his most since 2013 and 2008, respectively. It’s simply unreasonable to imagine a repeat year offensively, especially with the laundry list of injuries Pedroia drags with him.

2017 projections – .296/12/68, +/- 145 games

 

  1. Andrew Benintendi, LF (2016 stats – .295/2/14, 34 games)

After his early August call-up in 2016, Benny didn’t look overmatched for a second. His cup-of-coffee was derailed by an ankle injury, though Benintendi was one of the few bright spots in Boston’s three game post-season sweeping at the hands of the American League-champion Cleveland Indians. The 22-year-old showed up to camp 20lbs heavier this spring and it would appear all the mass went to his biceps. That should translate to a few more Benny bombs dispersed into the stands this year, making Benintendi a potential Rookie of the Year candidate.

2017 projections – .291/15/78, +/- 148 games

 

  1. Mookie Betts, RF (2016 stats – .318/31/113, 158 games)

If we follow the career arch of Mookie thus far, that should put him around 44 homers and 150 rbi’s this season…probably unlikely. But who knows what exactly is possible with this 5’9” force. Expect his production to drop off slightly, as Big Papi is no longer looming in the cleanup hole, but Betts will still be a top-10 hitter in the league with ease.

2017 projections – .315/27/106, +/- 154 games

 

  1. Hanley Ramirez, DH (2016 stats – .286/30/111, 147 games)

Raise your hand if you saw that second half coming from Hanley in 2016? To be fair, he did call his shot, claiming just before the break that he was about to get real scary. His 147 games were the most since 2010 and with a nagging shoulder already cropping up in spring training, we may be in for a roller coaster year with the new DH. Make no mistake, as has been evident this spring, when Hanley’s in the lineup, he’ll still be ‘scary.’

2017 projections – .277/23/85, +/- 135 games

 

  1. Xander Bogaerts, SS (2016 stats – .294/21/89, 157 games)

Bogey flashed some of that elusive power potential a year ago, however, when he did so, it came at the sacrifice of his cool .329 pre-ASG average. The player who has missed just 11 games over the last two seasons, combined with playing a demanding position finally caught up with Bogaerts last year as he began to look sluggish both at the plate and in the field in September. He’s another guy who will benefit from a day off every now and then, courtesy of Brock Holt.

2017 projections – .288/23/93, +/- 150 games

 

  1. Mitch Moreland, 1B (2016 stats – .233/22/60, 147 games)

The most underrated and under-publicized move of the offseason for Boston, as it broke just hours after the Sox mega-deal for Chris Sale, was the signing of reigning AL  gold-glove first basemen, Mitch Moreland. A career .254 hitter, Moreland has hit 23, 23 and 22 homers three of the last four seasons (injuries limited him to 52 games in 2014). Moreland may see some time off versus lefties, but his .375/1/12 line this spring can’t be ignored and neither can his opposite-field swing which is tailormade for Fenway Park.

2017 projections – .250/20/66, 140 games

 

  1. Pablo Sandoval, 3B (2016 stats – 0-6/0/0, 3 games)

I don’t need to mention last year. Let’s just forget about it. Pablo is slimmed down, he’s svelte, and he’s hitting .349/3/13 in 14 games this spring. He’s even a perfect 29-for-29 in opportunities at the hot corner. Is there hope that maybe, just maybe he’s returned to the World Series-MVP level of old? Let’s temper expectations slightly, but all signs are pointing towards a serviceable third basemen in 2017! Let’s just hope he has a belt that fits his new, slender tummy.

2017 projections – .271/13/59, +/- 132 games

 

  1. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF (2016 stats – .267/26/87, 156 games)

JBJ was one of the biggest surprises out of last year’s campaign, combining power and average in the first half to earn a starting role in the AL’s outfield at the ASG. After the break, the power remained (12hr in 257ab), but the average dipped (.233). If I had to bet, I’d say this is closer to the player we’ll see in 2017, and we may even see Benintendi get time in CF against lefties, while Chris Young mans leftfield. Let’s not forget, JBJ is a guy in that coming into last year, Sox Nation was content if he hit .250 with 10 homers to complement his gold-glove quality play in centerfield.

2017 projections – .258/22/77, +/- 146 games

 

  1. Sandy Leon, C (2016 stats – .310/7/35, 78 games)

King Leonidas burst onto the scene last year, hitting .467 in June, .355 in July and .306 in August. Then, as swiftly as he came, he silently floated off into the breeze, hitting just .216 in September and 1-for-11 in October. Who knows what to make of the 28-year-old backstop this campaign, especially considering he was a career .179 hitter coming into last summer. If I had to make a prediction, which is just what I’m doing, I’d say Sandy is the catcher until June, when Christian Vazquez takes over for a spell before the Sox realize he doesn’t know what a bat is for and eventually move onto Blake Swihart. The team’s best offensive option behind the plate and out of the 9-hole.

2017 projections – .236/4/24

 

Mark Paulette is the senior producer of The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.