The Boston Red Sox are all in for the 2017 Major League Baseball season. Boston made numerous moves to increase their chances to win the World Series, including acquiring ace starter Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox for prized prospect Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe, and Victor Diaz. The trade sent a signal to the rest of the MLB that the Red Sox will accept nothing less than winning the World Series, as the Red Sox now have the reigning Cy Young Award winner in Rick Porcello, David Price, and Chris Sale as the big three in their starting rotation. Additionally, the Red Sox acquired Tyler Thornburg from the Milwaukee Brewers to go along with the returning from injury Carson Smith and elite closer Craig Kimbrel.
Across the MLB, teams have plenty of weaknesses, but the Red Sox do not appear to have one. Even Pablo Sandoval is a man on a mission this season, looking to return from one of the worst years in recent Red Sox history. Across the board the Red Sox are set up to be top contenders, being dubbed by their rival New York Yankees’ General Manager Brian Cashman as “the Golden State Warriors of the MLB.” But not all plans work out exactly as put together, and we can’t know for sure how the Red Sox will do until the season ends. With that in mind, let’s look at a list of 15 bold predictions for the Boston Red Sox 2017 season. Will they win it all? Find out.
15. Pablo Sandoval Hits Above .280 In Over 400 At Bats
Last year Pablo Sandoval barely managed to take the field for the Boston Red Sox. His season was cut short by a combination of injury woes and weight problems. Red Sox fans booed him practically off the roster due to his lack of offense and overall lack of conditioning. Now, Sandoval is looking to get back into the swing of things for the upcoming season. Sandoval even bunted in his first at bat of spring training, looking to show his increased conditioning and new ability to succeed in the MLB once again. The Red Sox will need for Sandoval to contribute throughout the season, as they moved Travis Shaw to the Milwaukee Brewers in the Tyler Thornburg trade and Yoan Moncada in the Chris Sale deal.
14. Mookie Betts Has A 40-40 Season
Last season Mookie Betts did not only put his name on the map, he made himself into the entire map. Betts dominated Major League Baseball, showing that he is an elite outfielder that deserves to be considered as the next best in the league after Mike Trout. Considering Betts is still developing, that means that the Red Sox outfielder will only get better from here. With that in mind, we see Betts having another career year in 2017, hitting 40 home runs and stealing 40 bases. An MVP Award could be in the works for Betts as well, but with Mike Trout still plugging along for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, that is a tough expectation to have of the Red Sox top outfielder.
13. Joe Kelly Emerges As Top Set Up Man
As we stated previously, the Red Sox’ top set up man options are expected to be Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg. While Smith and Thornburg are expected to have great seasons for Boston, there is a darkhorse candidate that Red Sox fans should keep an eye on. Joe Kelly had an awful season last year, but there is more to his story. He developed a couple of new pitches towards the end of the season that appear to be lethal additions to his holster. Kelly is expected to be a full-time member of the Red Sox’ bullpen for next season, and working full time in that role should afford him the opportunity to finally properly develop his pitches and reach his full potential in the MLB.
12. Jackie Bradley Jr. Struggles Mightily
Jackie Bradley Jr. was nearly traded in the past to Seattle Mariners for Charlie Furbush, but the Mariners decided not to take the deal. Perhaps that partially sheds some light into why the Mariners are where the Mariners are now. But the Mariners may be redeemed by Bradley’s struggles in the upcoming season. Bradley had an awful career up until last season, then lit up the MLB for the first half of last season. However, as the second half of the season came around Bradley struggled once again. While no one would argue Bradley is not an elite fielder, his bat is always going to be the question mark. The bat won’t come around this year despite doing so in the past, and the Red Sox will have problems.
11. Mitch Moreland Gets Booed Out Of Boston
Imagine being tasked with replacing David Ortiz? Yikes. That’s the task that Mitch Moreland faces, even if the Red Sox are trying to diminish what Moreland has to do. Moreland will be the new first base/designated hitter option to replace the retiring Ortiz, and coming off of an off season with the Texas Rangers will not help matters. While Hanley Ramirez will help replace plenty of Ortiz’ production, in the end Moreland will have to do his part. Considering how much Red Sox fans loved Ortiz, they will not take kindly to any struggles by the newest member of the Red Sox organization. Moreland will find himself booed out of Boston before he gets the chance to succeed in his new environment and team.
10. Andrew Benintendi Bats .300 In 450+ At Bats
Andrew Benintendi is largely considered one of the top prospects in the entire league. Major League Baseball prospects spread far and wide, including former Red Sox prospect Yoan Moncada, now playing for the Chicago White Sox. However, the Boston Red Sox managed to keep Andrew Benintendi as part of that trade, thinking he would have the strongest career of all of their prospects. Benintendi is set for his first full season in the MLB, and he is set to dominate in that season. We believe Benintendi will hit over .300 in over 450 at bats, including at least 20 home runs in the campaign. He is far too good to go through the usual rookie struggles and whatnot that plague the rest of MLB youngsters.
9. Red Sox Win The Division By 10 Games
The American League East is widely regarded as the top division across Major League Baseball. The Boston Red Sox are understood to be an elite team, while any of the Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, and Toronto Blue Jays are all expected to be contenders to make the playoffs. That thought alone shows why the Red Sox will dominate the division, though. The Red Sox are elite, and the rest are trying to work their way into the picture. The Red Sox will bully the rest of the division, who will be beating each other up throughout the season for positioning in the Wild Card race. Look for the Red Sox to get off to a hot start and win it from there.
8. Red Sox Have Catching Troubles All Season
While we have touted the Red Sox’ strengths throughout this list thus far, not every aspect of the team is perfect. Since Jason Varitek left, the Boston Red Sox have dealt with numerous catchers coming and going. This season, the Red Sox have Sandy Leon, Blake Swihart, and Christian Vazquez looking to earn playing time as the starting catcher. That’s three options, so most assume between the three of them the Red Sox will find one option to stick for the season. Surprisingly enough, none of those three will prove to be a reliable option moving forward. None of the three boast elite bats, and the defense is just good enough to get by. It won’t break the Red Sox, but it won’t help either.
7. Rick Porcello Wins Fewer Than 15 Games
Rick Porcello won the Cy Young Award last season, dominating Major League Baseball for the Boston Red Sox in a surprising campaign. Due to that surprise, we believe Porcello is due for some regression. His wins totals will drop as teams adapt to his pitching, but the Red Sox will not suffer much from it. Porcello will still own an ERA under 3.50, and will still do his part to help the Red Sox advance into the post-season and beyond. Porcello is a top starter in the MLB, but he is not a consistent 20 game winner with a consistently excellent earned run average just yet. Look for a step back rather than a step forward next season for the #3 starter on Boston.
6. David Price Loses Two ALCS Games For The Red Sox
We aren’t quite sure if this constitutes as a “bold” prediction for the Boston Red Sox, as David Price’s post-season inabilities have been widely covered. Yet every post-season, people wonder if it’s finally the year that Price gets it together and helps rather than hurts his respective team in the playoffs. We believe Price will have a brilliant ALDS, aiding the Red Sox in getting out of the first round. People will think he’s finally overcome his post-season woes, but then the post-season struggles will strike once again. Price will lose two of the four losses the Red Sox suffer in the ALCS, effectively helping eliminate them from the ultimate goal. Price will be persona non grata in Boston after this one.
5. Red Sox Fall To The Indians – Again
As you can tell from the last point on this list, we believe the Boston Red Sox will be eliminated from the post-season in the American League Championship Series. Thanks largely in part to David Price failing to live up to his ace status in the post-season, the Red Sox will exit the playoffs earlier than anyone thought they would. Andrew Miller and the Cleveland Indians will once again eliminate the Red Sox, this time in a six game ALCS series rather than a three game American League Division Series. The Red Sox’ pitching will struggle to match the Indians’ pitching due to Price’s struggles, and Edwin Encarnacion will help the Indians reach the World Series for the second straight season, getting past Boston once again.
4. Steven Wright Is Out Of The Majors By July
Steven Wright was one of the most fun stories of the 2016 season across Major League Baseball. The knuckle-ball throwing starter that bounced across the MLB before landing a spot with the Boston Red Sox pitched to a 13-6 record with a 3.33 earned run average last season. With those numbers, Wright was considered one of the aces of the Red Sox’ staff. However, despite the Tim Wakefield-esque approach Wright brings to the table, he cannot replicate Wakefield’s long term success as a starter in the MLB. Instead, hitters will adapt to Wright’s gimmick pitch and Wright will have no other weapons to fool hitters. Considering his past as a journeyman, the Red Sox will be able to bounce him out of the MLB.
3. Brock Holt Plays Every Position In A Game
It appears as if the Boston Red Sox organization prides itself on having fun, so it will be no surprise when the Red Sox have their swiss-army knife of a player Brock Holt do the impossible in an interleague game this season. In the interleague game, Holt will step onto the field and play time at every single position, including pitcher. Holt has experience at every position except for catcher and pitcher, but in a blowout going one way or the other, the Red Sox can easily task the utility man with playing every position. It will be a fun moment in a great season for the Red Sox, although the ending will not be quite what the Red Sox and their fans would like.
2. Xander Bogaerts Wins The Batting Title
Xander Bogaerts is one of the Boston Red Sox’ killer B’s, but does not hit for power as much as Mookie Betts. While we believe Mookie Betts will have a 40-40 campaign, we believe another member of the Red Sox’ killer B’s will have a milestone season as well. Xander Bogaerts will win the batting title, topping Jose Altuve and company to win the award. Bogaerts hit .294 last season, but for a large majority of the season he was among the league leaders in Major League Baseball in getting on base through base hits. Bogaerts’ season will be one of the top in Red Sox history, although we certainly do not believe he will hit .400 like Ted Williams once did. That would be fun, though!
1. Finishes Top 5 In MVP Voting
Replacing David Ortiz is no easy task, and that’s why Mitch Moreland will be booed out of Boston. However, Hanley Ramirez is already a fan favorite in Boston, and has experience contributing in the Red Sox’ market. Hanley will be tasked with picking up both the slack of the exit of David Ortiz, and the inability to contribute by Mitch Moreland. He will top last year’s numbers, hitting for a high average, over 30 home runs, and over 115 runs batted in in the campaign. The Red Sox will dominate the league in the regular season accordingly, winning the most games of any team in the regular season. Unfortunately, everything resets once the regular season ends, and Hanley’s great numbers won’t impact a post-season run.
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