119 wins, are you kidding me? The 2018 World Series Champion squad was the greatest team in the illustrious 118 year history of the Boston Red Sox.
The Red Sox plowed through the American League playoffs and the World Series, winning eleven out of fourteen games, dominating a majority of the time. They hit the crap out of the ball, had shutdown starters, and a decent bullpen to close teams out.
The Red Sox 2019 campaign begins on Thursday, March 28, when they face off with the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park in Seattle.
Why the world champions don’t get a home game is beyond me, but that’s MLB for you.
PENNANT CHASING WITHOUT A PEN
The Red Sox have kept their roster very consistent from last year's record breaking team. The only notable losses to the team is reliever Joe Kelly, and still unsigned free agent closer Craig Kimbrel. Although I usually put little to no stock into Spring Training performance, it’s important to note that the Sox bullpen has been atrocious thus far.
These are the only two key players Boston has lost, but the reliever situation was already shaky at times last year. This offseason certainly hasn’t helped.
The bullpen consists of many average pitchers, who have never been known to be great. Names like Heath Hembree, Tyler Thornburg, Ryan Brasier, Matt Barnes and Brandon Workman don’t exactly excite on the mound.
If Boston is unable to make a deal with Kimbrel, which at this point seems unlikely, Barnes will be the best available option for that position. Even then, the bullpen will be a real issue this season. If the starters are not able to go deep into games, these relief pitchers will be exposed.
Bullpen Grade: C-
WE’RE ALL ACES. THEY ARE TOO.
Not all of Boston’s pitching is subpar though, as they boast the best starting rotation in the MLB.
Chris Sale who just signed his six year, $160 million extension is the ace of the group, but the others aren’t any joke either. David Price, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Nathan Eovaldi are all great pitchers in their own right.
Price and Porcello are former CY Young award winners, and they’re respectively the second and third best pitchers in the rotation.
Eovaldi showed his worth during last seasons playoff run, pitching gems in his starts. How can anyone forget his legendary eight inning relief appearance in game three of the Word Series? I won’t forget that for the rest of my life.
Lastly, E-Rod can be very up and down from start to start, but if he can somehow stay healthy this season he could be a fantastic fifth arm in the rotation.
There’s really nothing to complain about when you look at this rotation, every guy brings something a little different, and that’s why it works so well.
Starting Pitcher Grade: A+
BIG D ENERGY
The Sox were great in the field last season too. They only committed 77 errors on the season (53 if you don’t include Rafael Devers), and had a fielding percentage of .987%.
Boston often looked very crisp in the field, especially their star-studded outfield. Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Mookie Betts are the best defensive trio in the league. They combined for only eleven errors last season, which is great for the volume of balls hit their way.
Benintendi plays the monster in left very well, and is very athletic making plays up and around the wall. Bradley Jr. is lightning fast, and has one of the strongest arms in the league making him a perennial Gold Glove candidate. Betts is a fantastic athlete with a cannon in right field, which makes this outfield second to none.
The infield is good, but less impressive. The third base position is a real worry for the Sox, especially when Rafael Devers is out there. Although he gives the Sox a great bat in the lineup, his fielding is just disgusting. Last season he had 24 errors in just 116 appearances. That number is staggering, and hopefully for the Red Sox he’s improved defensively coming into this year.
Shortstop is manned by Xander Bogaerts, who last season proved he’s a top SS in the MLB. That position is locked down by a stud, while the rest of the infield is occupied by moving parts.
Second base will be a mix between utility man Brock Holt, Eduardo Nuñez, and potentially Dustin Pedroia if he ever becomes healthy again.
First base is in great hands (pun intended), as Mitch Moreland and World Series MVP Steve Pearce will hold it down very well. Sam Travis will also be seeing some time to start the season with Pearce injured, when the Red Sox face a lefty he will most likely be the starter.
The catcher situation will be a three man rotation as it was last season. With Christian Vasquez as the starter, and Blake Swihart and Sandy Leon working in once in a while as well. They won’t ‘wow’ you, but they get the job done.
All that being said, the Sox have a respectable defensive unit. Aside from third base, Boston should have no glaring issues in the field this season.
Defensive Grade: B+
POWER WITH PROWESS
The BoSox had a potent lineup last season, and that contributed greatly to their World Series Championship. They scored a strong 5.4 runs a game to lead the American League. 48 times the Sox scores seven or more runs, going 46-2 in those games.
Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez are legitimately two of the top five hitters in the league. Along with Benintendi, Pearce, Moreland, Bogaerts, and Devers, this lineup is scary.
In the blink of an eye the Sox can turn a game on its head with their loud bats, and aggressive base running style.
They’re very deep, and besides the catchers and Jackie Bradley, everyone in Boston’s lineup is a very good hitter.
Expect more of the same high scoring attack from this year’s Red Sox lineup.
Offensive Grade: A
This year’s team is extraordinarily similar to last year’s, just they have even more experience together. I expect the defense to slightly improve from already being great. I expect more of the same from their dangerous offense. The starting rotation should be even better than last year, barring injuries. The only possible hiccup is that bullpen, and it will be a big issue at times for this team. Alex Cora is a phenomenal coach, and that won’t change, but some of that magic from last year might wear off.
Overall Grade: A-
Prediction: The Red Sox won’t be able to replicate the outrageous amount of wins they had last season, that’s expecting way too much.
Instead, they will finish with a record in the mid to high 90s. Boston will land at 96-66, and second in the AL East by a few games to the Yankees this season. A championship hangover is real, and New York has the more complete team from top to bottom.
Boston will find themselves back in the ALCS this season, but there won’t be a repeat in their future. Not unless that bullpen drastically changes from March to October. Which is very possible, but until that happens the Yankees are the more well rounded squad.
All that being said, the Chicago Cubs are my pick to win the 2019 World Series, over the New York Yankees in seven games.
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