2015 Boston Red Sox Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
by Alan Matthews - 4/3/2015
Going from worst to first isn't an every-year occurrence in baseball, but it happens. Not a banner headline these days. But worst to first to worst to first? That has never been done before, but if you believe all the oddsmakers that's what could happen with the Boston Red Sox in the AL East this season.
I certainly didn't expect Boston to finish last in 2014, but I didn't think the Sox had much of a chance of repeating as World Series champions after a very quiet offseason. GM Ben Cherington essentially was counting on some of his touted young players to emerge, and for the most part they didn't. For example, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Will Middlebrooks were busts, neither breaking the Mendoza Line. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts was a disappointment.
Free $60 in Member MLB Picks No Obligation Click Here
Among veterans, David Ortiz had another strong season, but Dustin Pedroia underachieved and battled injuries. Mike Napoli couldn't stay healthy. Shane Victorino only played in 30 games. Other than ace Jon Lester and perhaps John Lackey, the rotation was a disaster.
So Cherington began the retooling of the Sox during last season. He traded Lester to Oakland for slugger Yoenis Cespedes and Lackey to St. Louis for Allen Craig and pitcher Joe Kelly. And after a quiet 2014 offseason, this past one was anything but for the Sawx.
Boston opens the season with an interleague matchup at Philadelphia on April 6 -- I wonder what that means for Ortiz with no DH? Either he or Napoli would have to sit.
Red Sox 2015 Projected Lineup
The two main departures from last year's lineup were Middlebrooks, who hit just .191 in 63 games and lost his job at third, and Cespedes, who hit .269 with five homers and 33 RBIs in 51 games with Boston. The Sox had and still have a glut of outfielders, so Cespedes was pretty expendable. Bradley was sent to Triple-A this week as was Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, whom the team signed to a $72 million deal last summer. He hit .333 with two homers and six RBIs in 36 at-bats in the Show. He won't be down there long -- the Sox still have too many outfielders and would like to trade one.
The leadoff hitter is center fielder Mookie Betts, who obviously has surpassed Bradley Jr. as the team's center fielder of the future. Betts was one of the few young players to fare well in 2014, hitting .291 with five homers, 18 RBIs and seven steals in 189 at-bats. How can you not root for a Mookie? The second baseman Pedroia (.278, seven homers, 53 RBIs) hits second. He's still a fan favorite in Boston, but he's hugely overpaid and will never have another MVP-caliber season as he did in 2008. Injuries have started to hamper him, although Pedroia has mostly played through them.
Probably the face of baseball now that Derek Jeter has retired is Ortiz, who will hit third as usual. Big Pap showed no signs of slowing down last year with a .263 average, 35 homers and 104 RBIs. I would be stunned if he comes close to those latter two again at age 39. The team's two big free-agent signings, which happened nearly simultaneously, were Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez and Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval They will hit No. 4 and No. 5. Ramirez (.283, 13 HRs, 71 RBIs) will play left field for the first time in his career. Really good hitter but rather brittle and supposedly a bit of a clubhouse cancer. Sandoval (.279, 16 HRs, 73 RBIs) is also a good player but battles weight troubles. He has always raised his game in the playoffs. Are both overpaid? No doubt, but that's the state of baseball these days.
Napoli (.248, 17 HRs, 55 RBIs), at first base, hits sixth and he looked good this spring. Right fielder Victorino (.268, two homers in 123 at-bats) will hit seventh, and he's the guy that Boston would love to trade. Not sure why anyone would want him unless the Sox eat nearly all of the 34-year-old's contract. Victorino is essentially in Castillo's spot right now. Bogaerts (.240, 12 HRs, 46 RBIs), at shortstop, hits eighth. No way the Sox were going to move him for Ramirez. The No. 9 hitter was supposed to be highly-touted young catcher Christian Vazquez, but he has been lost for the season to Tommy John surgery. That's probably more of a loss defensively. New addition Ryan Hanigan will get most of the starts now. The team does have another touted young catcher in the minors in Blake Swihart, but he's not ready quite yet. The 22-year-old catcher has just 18 games of Triple-A experience.
Boston ranked 11th in the AL runs and 12th in homers last year, and that will not happen again with the additions of Ramirez and Sandoval -- even with possible slight regression from Big Papi.
Red Sox 2015 Projected Rotation & Closer
You probably have heard all about this group this spring: it looks like five solid starters but no true ace now that Lester is gone. The Sox did try to re-sign the lefty this summer but didn't come that close to the Cubs' offer. If Boston struggles out of the gate, the Cole Hamels rumors will really be reignited. The Sox have a rich farm system but one guy the Phillies apparently insist on is Swihart, and Boston won't do that. I'm guessing the Vazquez injury makes Swihart even more untouchable.
So your current No. 1 is Clay Buchholz (8-11, 5.34), but he's coming off perhaps his worst season and has had trouble staying healthy. Then you have three new additions: right-hander Rick Porcello (15-13, 3.43), who was acquired from Detroit for Cespedes, right-hander Justin Masterson (7-9, 5.88), a free-agent signing, and left-hander Wade Miley (8-12, 4.34), acquired from Arizona. Kelly (6-4, 4.20) rounds out the group but seems better suited for a bullpen role. If spring is any indication, the Sox will be trading for Hamels. The rotation was not great.
The closer will be again Koji Uehara (26 saves, 2.52 ERA), but he begins the season on the DL with a hamstring strain. Edward Mujica fills in.
Red Sox Futures Odds & 2014 Trends
At Bovada , Boston is +1000 to win the World Series, +550 co-favorite with Seattle for the AL pennant, +200 favorite for the AL East and with an "over/under" wins total of 86.5 (under -125 favorite). Ortiz is +3300 to lead the majors in homers and +5000 to win AL MVP. He has totals of 26.5 homers and 89.5 RBIs. Ramirez is +2500 to win MVP. Porcello is a +10000 long shot to win AL Cy Young and is the only Red Sox on the prop. He has a wins total of 12.5. The Red Sox were 69-63 against the spread last season with an O/U of 71-86-5. On the moneyline, they were -2647 units on the year.
Red Sox 2015 Predictions
FanGraphs projects Boston to finish 87-76 and first in the AL East. This team looks overrated to me. Like the Yankees, the sportsbooks tend to overinflate the Red Sox odds. That said, the AL East looks pretty mediocre, so it wouldn't shock me if Boston won it. However, going by the current roster, I am going under the wins and say that the Sox finish second in the division. Get Hamels and that projection changes. Go over Ortiz RBIs but under homers. Over Porcello wins.
The handicappers at Doc's Sports are offering $60 worth of member's baseball picks absolutely free - no obligation, no sales people - Sign up here for free baseball picks. Also, for a limited time only get three MLB handicappers for the price of one. Click here for details.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Get all of Today's Free MLB Picks
Get all of Today's 100% Profit Guaranteed Expert MLB Picks