Now that spring training is underway, speculation begins to mount and expectations start to come out about teams. The Dodgers and Yankees are already penciled in for the World Series in many people’s eyes, the Tigers and Pirates are being talked about as some of the worst teams in league history, and then there’s the Boston Red Sox. Following a massively disappointing 2019 season where the team followed up the 2018 World Series with a third-place, 84-78 finish, expectations were low to begin with for the 2020 campaign. Then the Sox parted ways with the 2018 AL MVP and second-best player in baseball Mookie Betts, as well as David Price, and the hopes and dreams for this year died a painful death. People are talking about the Red Sox as if they’re a 4th place team now. While the Red Sox definitely could’ve used an MVP caliber right fielder and a top end starting pitcher, the team actually has a lot more potential than people are giving them credit for. That’s why I’m here; To get your hopes up for the 2020 Boston Red Sox. No, they’re not going to win the division, and they might not even crack the playoffs, but this team has the potential to turn some heads, and here’s why.
First and foremost, the offense is still really, REALLY good. Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers still make up one of the best 3-4 duos in the entire sport. The two are coming off seasons where they both hit 32 home runs, had 50+ doubles, drove in more than 115 runs, hit well over .300, and slugged a sturdy .555. Devers is likely going to get even better, and Bogaerts has established himself as one of the best pure hitters in the sport. Look for more of the same with these two. You know who else is really good at hitting? JD Martinez. While Martinez’s best friend Mookie is no longer on the team to get driven in, Martinez does nothing but rake regardless of who’s in the lineup. JD is another guy that you can basically pencil in for .300/ 30 HR/100 RBI. In fact, basically everyone on the Sox can hit the shit out of the ball. The Red Sox currently have 8 players who topped the double-digit home run barrier in 2019.
That’s also counting Andrew Bennintendi and Michael Chavis, two guys who are primed to take a jump in 2020. Filling the role of Mookie Betts is going to be literally impossible for anyone, but I think Alex Verdugo is going to fit in very well at Fenway. He’s going to hit a ton of doubles, and may run into a 20 homer season.
Everyone and their mother knows that the Red Sox are hit. The problem, like last season, is pitching. After losing horses like David Price and Rick Porcello, the rotation looks remarkably depleted. But, where some see an injury-ridden and unproven pitching staff, I see a gold mine.
Chris Sale STUNK in 2019, but that’s because he had a shitty elbow for most of the season. He didn’t pitch the last month and a half of the season, so the wing is definitely ripe and ready to let it fly. A healthy Chris Sale is undoubtedly one of the best pitchers in MLB, so if we’re going to get one of those seasons, it’s a wrap. Another major injury concern is Nathan Eovaldi. While it’s justified to have limited expectations for Nate the great in 2020, you have to remember that just two years ago, Eovaldi was tremendous down the stretch during the World Series run. If he can get back to a low 4.00 ERA type of guy and eat up innings in the middle of the rotation, I would be more than satisfied. Eduardo Rodriguez seems like he has turned the corner after years of “What ifs?” and has the potential to be an excellent number two. Martin Perez still SUCKS BALLS and I hate the idea of using an opener instead of a fifth starter, but hey, what are you gonna do? The bullpen is also still very shaky. Sure, Brandon Workman is steady as they come, but the rest of the supporting cast is a bit unnerving. Josh Taylor, Marcus Walden, Heath Hembree, Ryan Brasier, and Matt Barnes all had flashes of brilliance last season, but all told were below average. If Barnes, Brasier, and Hembree can get back to their 2018 forms, coupled with a step forward from Walden and Taylor, and we could be looking at a really good back end. The wild card of this all is Darwinzon Hernandez. MY MAN DARWINZON. I think that Hernandez is about to have a coming out party in 2020. He struck out 57 batters in only 30.1 innings. That is a strikeout MACHINE. Control is obviously an issue (you can’t be walking 7.7 batters per 9 and be successful), but the hard-throwing 23-year old could be a massive factor this season.
Did I just take all this time to say that the Boston Red Sox are going to be ‘meh’ in 2020? Maybe. For all I know this team could come out, shit their pants the first week of the season just like last year and barely crack 80 wins. BUT, I truly in my heart of hearts believe that the Red Sox are going to contend for a wild card spot this year. MARK MY WORDS!
The 2020 Boston Red Sox: Hopefully not terrible.
Photo via Boston Globe