2018 Boston Red Sox Expert Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
Last year the Red Sox went into the season as the expected class of the AL East after an aggressive offseason, and they lived up to expectations - in the regular season, at least. They won the division but fell short in the ALDS to the Astros. But in the offseason they got passed by the Yankees and their big moves - or at least that is what everyone perceives. There are reasons to think that the team could build on what they did last year. But there are also reasons you could argue that they aren't quite where the need to be. It's an uncertain year this year for Boston, but it is at the very least one that is likely to end up in the playoffs. But what can they do once they get there?
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Red Sox 2018 Projected Lineup
It shouldn't be a shock to anyone that David Ortiz was valuable to the Red Sox, and he was missed last year. What was shocking, though, is how much he was missed. Offensive explosiveness and power fell off a cliff last year with Ortiz not producing big hits himself and not protecting and mentoring others in the lineup. A team that was well above average with 208 home runs in 2016 was dead last in the American League last year with just 168. Mookie Betts led the team with just 24. That lack of power wasn't going to cut it in this league right now no matter what and especially not after the Yankees went nuclear in their desire for more power by adding Giancarlo Stanton.
There are two reasons to think that the team should have more power this year. First, after a flirtation that seemed like it would never end, the team added J.D. Martinez as a power-first DH. It's a big deal, but not a hugely risky one - at least in the short term. He again provides a bat opposing pitchers fear, which will free up other hitters a bit. Beyond that, though, the teams should get more power just by being healthy. Jackie Bradley Jr., Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez all missed a lot of time, and while Xander Bogaerts was mostly available he rarely seemed right physically. If they are healthier the lineup should be more productive by far.
Rafael Devers looks to be a full-time third baseman this year after impressing in a short stint last year. And a couple of other youngsters - Michael Chavis and Sam Travis - will be looking to get a shot as well at some point.
Alex Cora is new to the team and to managing, but he's a smart, proven guy who played in Boston long enough to know what the market is like. He'll be fine - and his biggest rival, Aaron Boone in New York, is another former ESPN talking head with little direct experience.
Red Sox 2018 Projected Rotation and Closer
On paper this rotation is as good as any, topped by three Cy Young winners. But it's never that straightforward. Chris Sale is the unquestioned ace, and he was good last year, but he carried a heavy burden and clearly faded as the season progressed. He'll be fine, though. It gets murkier after that. David Price had a disaster of a year, but he says he's healthy and ready, and there is definitely serious upside - which they will be hoping for given what they are paying him. Rick Porcello had one of the worst post-Cy Young seasons in history - perhaps because karma was catching up to him after he stole the award from Justin Verlander. He was just lousy and needs to prove he can be better. Drew Pomeranz was excellent in the second half of last year and could be in for a big season, but he had a scare with his elbow in the spring and needs to stay healthy. And the fifth spot is a bit unclear, with Eduardo Rodriguez, who struggled with injuries last year, and prospect Brian Johnson, being in the mix. The upside for the group is massive but so is the uncertainty.
The bullpen is deep and solid, and Craig Kimbrel is a strong closer. Once the game gets out of the hands of the starters then the team is in good hands.
Red Sox Futures Odds
Boston is at +1000 to win the World Series, which puts them behind the Yankees, Astros and Indians in the AL, and the Dodgers, Cubs and Nationals in the NL. Fittingly, they are the fourth choice to win the AL, though since they sit at just +400 it's clear how wide open the league is at the top end. They are the second choice to win the AL East at +165 behind the Yankees at +100. The season win total, also the fourth highest in the AL, sits at 91.5, with the "over" heavily favored at -125. Chris Sale's season win total sits at 15.5, with David Price at 14.5. J.D. Martinez is tied in a large group of contenders to win the home run title at +2000, well behind leader Giancarlo Stanton at +375.
Red Sox 2018 Predictions
There is a lot to make me nervous - mostly that they need a lot of guys to be healthier and more productive than they were last year. Despite all of those issues, though, they still won 93 games and the division. They are every bit as good as that team, so the over is the way to go on the season win total. That's an uneasy bet to make, though - there will be more confident bets out there for sure. They are certainly in the mix to win the AL East, and if the pitching holds up I like them slightly better than the Yankees in that race.
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