Fantasy Baseball Team Previews – Boston Red Sox

mookie-betts

2015 ended up being a disastrous one for the Boston Red Sox, as a year that started with optimism ended with them at the bottom of the AL East. The worst part is that there are now big questions over both of last year’s big acquisitions, Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, who both struggled to make an impact in their first year in Boston. However, there are signs of positivity in their young core who continued to develop in 2015.

During this offseason they have addressed their main needs by adding David Price to be the top of the rotation stud, Craig Kimbrel to be their lock down closer, Carson Smith to make a triple threat of talented arms in the bullpen, and Chris Young to offer power against lefty pitchers. On the flip side, their main losses were Wade Miley and Rich Hill. So, when you look at it, they’ve actually have had a pretty good offseason.

AL East

AL Central AL West NL East NL Central NL West

Baltimore

Chicago WS Houston Atlanta Chicago

Arizona

Boston

Cleveland Los Angeles A Miami Cincinnati Colorado

New York Y

Detroit

Oakland New York M Milwaukee

Los Angeles D

Tampa Bay

Kansas City Texas Philadelphia Pittsburgh

San Diego

Toronto Minnesota Seattle Washington St. Louis

San Francisco

Projected Starting Line-up

  1. Mookie Betts
  2. Dustin Pedroia
  3. Xander Bogaerts
  4. David Ortiz
  5. Hanley Ramirez
  6. Pablo Sandoval
  7. Rusney Castillo
  8. Blake Swihart
  9. Jackie Bradley Jr. (vs RH), Chris Young (vs LH)

Mookie Betts, OF

Betts really blossomed last year and I don’t doubt for a second that he is capable of stepping up and being the main man in this Red Sox line-up this season. He is projected to bat atop the order so he should score plenty of runs, and should get the green light to run plenty. Last season he had 21 steals on 27 attempts, so 25 steals is not out of the question. Power-wise I think a repeat of the 18 homers we saw last season is about right, but a small increase would not be a shock and would be a really nice addition. With decent line-up protection coming from Pedroia and Bogaerts I think he sees plenty of balls in the zone, which should allow him to accrue a decent batting average creeping towards the 0.300 range. The only downside to him is that for a second round pick he will struggle to give you more than 65 RBI. I have him as a third round pick right now but you’ll probably have to take him in the second according to his early season ADP.

Xander Bogaerts, SS

Bogaerts has the potential to cement himself as the second best shortstop for fantasy owners in 2016

Bogaerts has the potential to cement himself as the second best shortstop for fantasy owners in 2016

Bogaerts, together with Betts, make up a really nice young core to this Red Sox line-up. A lot of Bogaerts value comes from his SS position given the general weakness of the position hitting-wise. My issue with Bogaerts is that for a late 5th round pick he doesn’t give you a huge amount in terms of power or speed (10/10 is probably a realistic projection). What he does offer is consistent production across runs (85-ish) and RBI (90-ish) thanks to being projected to bat third in the line-up. Average-wise, he is hard to project because he jumped from 0.240 to 0.320 going from 2014 to 2015 and therefore I have pretty much split the difference with my 0.285 projection. Right now he is going 60th off the board and I actually have that as correct value come end of the season. But you need to have gotten some good power in the early rounds and have some good speed targets lined up later in the draft to cover what he doesn’t offer.

David Ortiz, DH

David Ortiz has spent the majority of his career being the annual fantasy headache when it comes to draft season. Every year fantasy owners have to trade off the thirty homer power Ortiz offers with the DH-only eligibility and the surely inevitable age decline that we all keep expecting. However, he has managed to hold off old father time so far and I think he can do it for one more year to post another 30-homer season. His average isn’t going to be in the 0.300’s like it was three or so years ago, but the 0.265 range is still more than enough for a guy who should post 70-ish runs and 90-ish RBI batting 4th in a good line-up. He is currently going in the 8th round and is someone you have to consider if you skimped on power early in the draft. The fear of filling up the Utility spot early is crazy when you consider how fantasy can vary week to week, so that shouldn’t be something to stop you if you see Ortiz drop beyond that 8th round spot.

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

Pedroia hasn’t aged anywhere near as gracefully as Ortiz and there has been a considerable drop off from when he was legitimate 20/20 threat in 2011. In the last three years, he has averaged 9.33 homers a year and his steals have reduced from 17 to 6 to 2 in those three years. His average is still in the 0.290 region but it is more likely to go down to the 0.280’s than back up to the 0.300’s. He gains a lot of value from batting second in this line-up and 75 runs is highly possible. The big issue really is the injuries of the past two seasons, which have seen him play just 135 and 93 games in those years. If he can stay healthy and play 150 games, then he is a legitimate top 10 or top seven option at second base. But with 135 looking a more realistic ceiling it’s hard to see him finishing the year inside the top 10.

Hanley Ramirez, OF

Ramirez had a down year last year with a drop off in most categories. The only category to really increase was power, where he increased his home runs from 13 to 19. However, that doesn’t account for a doubles decrease from 35 to 12! Ramirez is getting switched to first base to start the year after being a liability in the outfield, so we will have to see if his hitting picks up and his injuries decrease with playing a less stressful position. Batting fifth should give him plenty of potential for RBI and if he can stay healthy and play 140-plus games then he could find some former glories. However, right now that is a big if for a guy who has only played over 100 games twice in the last five years. I have him projected at 120 to try and find the middle ground and he comes in outside the top 100 hitters on my rankings with 55-ish runs, 60ish RBI, 20 homers and 10 steals at a 0.280 average. Right now you would need to draft him as the 71st hitter off the board at the end of the 10th round to get him. That price to value ratio puts him as my biggest bust potential on this team.

Pablo Sandoval, 3B

Sandoval made it two new signings who suffered massive drop offs in their first year in Boston. Sandoval went from 0.280 hitter with 16 homers, 68 runs and 73 RBI, to a 0.245 hitter with 10 homers, 43 runs and 47 RBI, all the lowest of his career when he played over 100 games. Sudden regression like that doesn’t just happen to a hitter who is only 28 so you have to believe there is some bounce back to come. However, even if we factor in a near total bounce back he is still only the 23rd third baseman, according to my rankings. So, it’s not even like you can draft him with the hope of a top 10 option. Right now I don’t see him as draft-able in a 12 team league at a position that has a surprising amount of depth.

Rusney Castillo, OF

I am not sure what to make of Castillo entering this year. On one hand it will be interesting to see what he can do with a full year playing, but at the same time he wasn’t impressive on a per-game basis last year so we are just getting a full year of meh performance. However, as the 72nd outfielder off the board and going undrafted in shallower formats, there is enough upside to gamble on him with a last round pick just in case.

Blake Swihart, C

Will playing time be an issue for Swihart in 2016?

Will playing time be an issue for Swihart in 2016?

Swihart is an interesting conundrum because he was a highly touted prospect coming up, but at the same time he is still young and I don’t think the Red Sox are quite ready to turn him loose as their number one catcher. They have other decent options in their organisation with Ryan Hanigan likely to start the year as the second option before giving way to the talented Christian Vasquez, who is very good defensively. My concern with Swihart is he doesn’t play enough to take a game that hasn’t fully developed and make himself a must own option in shallow leagues. In two catcher leagues he is a clear number two with the potential to be at the higher end of that. It might just be a year or two early for him to be considered a top 10 or 12 guy this season.

Any Other Business?

  • Travis Shaw, 1B: Shaw was on the border of draftable options in shallow leagues before the news of Hanley’s move to first came out.
  • Brock Holt, 2B, 3B, OF: Holt will become fantasy relevant at some point this year because he will be the primary back-up to Pedroia, Sandoval and the outfield trio so keep him on your watch list because his positional flexibility will be a great help.
  • Jackie Bradley Jr., OF: I have concerns with Bradley especially the fact he starts the year in a platoon. My colleague Spence Tripp also has some concerns of his own.
  • Chris Young, OF: I like the Young acquisition for Boston but I hate it for fantasy. Young has good power but he is stuck in a platoon making him all but useless without an injury.

Projected Rotation

Can David Price be the ace that wins both the heart of Red Sox nation and fantasy owners?

Can David Price be the ace that wins both the heart of Red Sox nation and fantasy owners?

  1. David Price
  2. Clay Buchholz
  3. Rick Porcello
  4. Eduardo Rodriguez
  5. Joe Kelly

David Price

Price is an absolute stud. He performed extremely well in a hitter park last year so I don’t think he will drop off following a move to Fenway. A top five starting pitcher option, and arguably top three.

Eduardo Rodriguez

Rodriguez has been called a sleeper in a lot of places this season, and whilst I agree with the premise I have some concerns that Boston will ride with him through the tough patches. They have Robbie Ross who can spot start, Brandon Workman on the DL and Henry Owens and Brian Johnson in AAA. If Rodriguez struggles for a couple of games he could see himself spend some time in AAA and therefore from an innings point of view that concerns me and is enough to keep him outside of must draft territory.

Clay Buchholz

I can see Buchholz as a back-end-of-the-rotation guy for fantasy but it won’t be a lot more than that. At the point where you are thinking of taking him there are some interesting upside guys I would prefer to take a chance on.

Rick Porcello & Joe Kelly

Porcello will need to get off to a hot start to even become fantasy relevant and Kelly is going to struggle to even touch the radar. Porcello at least has a guaranteed spot because of his monster contract.

Closer:

Craig Kimbrel

Kimbrel is no longer the consensus number one closer in baseball, but he is still pretty good. This Red Sox team should be better next year and that should offer Kimbrel plenty of opportunities. Kimbrel should bounce back from a rough time in San Diego and is a fairly solid bet to end the year in the top five and could easily be the top option again.

Next Man Up:

Koji Uehara

Uehara has served the fantasy community nicely the last few years but he isn’t the elite option Kimbrel is. However, if he was a closer entering the season he would be a top 15 option. I’ve highlighted him as a name you should have on your watch list as the possible next man up if Kimbrel goes down.

Stealth Saves:

Carson Smith

The move of Smith to Boston came as somewhat of a surprise. The Mariners don’t have a better closer installed there and Smith is a pretty good reliever. He is likely to serve as the 7th innings man early this year but is a long shot for saves if something happens to Kimbrel as he would need Uehara to blow up.

Prospect Potential

  • Deven Marrero, 3B: Marrero has a taste of the majors under his belt from last season but in 56 PA’s you can forgive him for being underwhelming. In his early minors career Marrero was a big steals guy but in 419 PA’s he stole just 12 bases and was caught 5 times. With defence being his calling card Marrero is going to be a better MLB player than he is going to be a fantasy asset.
  • Henry Owens: Owens exceeded his rookie limits last season but he qualifies here as he is likely to start the season in AAA. I expect Owens to have a decent season but I am not sure he will pitch enough innings to be a big fantasy asset this season. As a sub-3 ERA guy for two years between A+ and AAA and a 3.16 ERA guy in AAA in 2015 Owens has potential but he is a young pitcher who pitches in a hard hitting division with some hitter friendly ball parks. Must be drafted in AL only but is just outside of big league draft relevance for me.
  • Brian Johnson: This is the safe option of the three young pitchers in this article. Whilst Owens has top of the rotation potential Johnson is more of a back end of the rotation type guy. I expect him to be serviceable and is close enough to the majors to earn consideration at the end deeper AL only drafts.

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