The Boston Red Sox managed to go from first to worst in 2014. Coming off winning the World Series in 2013 the Red Sox fell apart in 2014 as concerns grew that the age of some of their major players may have caught up with them. So in an attempt to avoid a repeat of that disaster they added the talents of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval this offseason. They figure to bat at 4 and 5 in the line-up right behind the stalwart David Ortiz. Heading into this season the top 8 players in their line-up are all draft-able with only the catcher position not being fantasy relevant. The versatility of this team is amazing with five of their players, Betts, Bogaerts, Hanley, Craig and Holt, able to play in two positions. This allows Boston to mix and match regularly to try and create match-up advantages but it is something that could end up being a massive headache for fantasy owners if Boston go for the Oakland formula of the mix and match.
Predicted line-up: (Courtesy of www.rosterresource.com)
- Mookie Betts, OF
- Dustin Pedroia, 2B
- David Ortiz, DH
- Hanley Ramirez, OF
- Pablo Sandoval, 3B
- Mike Napoli, 1B
- Rusney Castillo, OF
- Xander Bogaerts, SS
- Christian Vasquez, C
Fantasy Superstar: Hanley Ramirez, SS
The story with Hanley Ramirez is the same as with the other elite shortstop of the last five years, if he can stay healthy he is a no brainer top 2 shortstop. Ramirez and Tulowitzki are the two most effective shortstops per plate appearance yearly but the issue is that they always seem to have at least 100 less at bats than the guys around them. Even predicting Ramirez at around 500 at bats he still consensusly ranks in the top 5 shortstops going into the season. If he can get that up to 600 AB’s there is no way anyone stops him being top, except for Tulo, and being discussed as a late first early second round pick next year. The only issue is how he will adjust to being an everyday outfielder, which is appears Boston want him to be, as position switching has seemed to effect his hitting in the past.
Evergreen Power?: David Ortiz, DH
Every time you think Ortiz is past it he comes out swinging again and puts up monster numbers again. He is locked in as the everyday DH for Boston when they play within the AL but will lose at bats during interleague play. His age is going to catch up with him eventually but right now for a potential 25-30 homer return, with close to 100 RBI whilst hitting around 0.300 he is well worth a gamble in rounds 5-10. He is easy to forget as DH often slips the mind but remembering him could bring you a great power return.
Fantasy Enigma: Rusney Castillo, OF
Castillo burst onto the scene last year and that is part of the reason the Red Sox deemed Cespedes surplus to requirements this offseason. Whilst there are a lot of outfielders in the Red Sox roster right now I think Castillo has enough talent that should be able to get at least 500 at bats. His perceived lack of power may cause people to hesitate but a potential 15 homer season from someone who can provide around 25 steals is valuable in the days of declining 20/20 options. The issue is if he has an MLB sophomore slump then one of Craig, Victorino or Holt could easily step in and provide solid production causing a significant loss of at bats for Castillo.
Mid-round Gold?: Dustin Pedroia 2B
Fantasy just got a whole lot better thanks to Monkey Knife Fight. With fast-paced games like Rapid Fire and Either/Or, it’s never been easier to play fantasy and win. New to MKF? Get Exclusive $100 Deposit Match + Free $5 Game
Pedroia’s struggles with injuries and the appearance he is aging has seen him drop from a consensus top 3 second baseman to someone people are debating whether he is now in the top 10 or 15. If you take a risk on him, either by waiting for a second baseman or as a middle infielder, then you could be rewarded handsomely if he bounces back and shows that his struggles were the result of injury issues in 2014. If he can remain batting second I like his potential for some decent runs and RBI numbers whilst hitting a decent average. A slip down the order would be damaging for his runs numbers however.
Massive Upside: Mookie Betts, OF
Betts came a little bit from nowhere last year leapfrogging highly touted Jackie Bradley Jr. to become the favourite for the young gun in the outfield for 2015. He can also play second base so you could see him spell Pedroia if Dustin shows signs of aging in 2015. I would expect to see him get around 550-600 at bats at the top end of the Red Sox order which is starting to look powerful. 10 homers with 20 steals and a decent runs total at an approximate 0.280 average is a solid return from someone who you will looking at for your 3rd/4th outfielder.
Late Round Power: Mike Napoli, 1B
How many 20+ home runs guys are you likely to find in rounds 17-21? You can probably count them on your fingers and toes and when you weed out the ones who are going to hurt you in average you are probably down to your fingers alone. Napoli is right on the borderline when it comes to average; right now he is generally projected for around 0.250 which is neither great nor disastrous. He does have a few names waiting in the wings for a shot at being the everyday first baseman in Lavarnway, Holt and Craig but I think 450+ AB’s is a fair expectation and those 20-25 homers could be crucial for you in maximising that category.
Late Round Flyer: Pablo Sandoval, 3B
The Panda is a name that every baseball fan knows because of his postseason exploits but when it comes to fantasy relevant in season production he just isn’t a hot name on the lips. I expect to see him drafted in the last few rounds with people potentially taking a slightly earlier gamble that the move to Fenway helps him. Right now 20 homers and one steal would be considered a bonus but his average won’t hurt you and he should play most days meaning he could reliably fill that CI or Util spot comfortably for you.
Fallen off the Wagon?: Xander Bogaerts
Bogaerts was a top prospect coming out of the Boston system that was a highly touted option at shortstop last season. However, he struggled to live up to the hype meaning opinions are extremely split on him going into 2015. One issue is that if Ramirez struggles in the outfield then there is a chance Bogaerts could lose his starting job to ensure they keep his bat in the line-up. Even with a starting job his average will potentially limit his usefulness in middle infield. If he hits at less than 0.240 and doesn’t steal then the damage that causes could be worse than the potential reward of 15-20 homers. However, judging a young player on one season could be dangerous and he actually hit for over 0.300 in his last 100 AB’s last season suggesting it could have clicked for him. A late round pick could potentially give you 10-20 homers at a power hungry shortstop position from a player who plays every day.
Any Other Business?:
The main two names on Boston’s bench that should be on fantasy radars are Allen Craig and Shane Victorino. Both figure to get a decent numbers of AB’s (400ish) and those numbers could be even higher if one or more of the three starting outfielders get off to a slow start. Brock Holt is another outfielder who is an option in deep leagues but he needs injuries or a lack of form to be mixed league relevant really.
- Rick Porcello
- Wade Miley
- Justin Masterson
- Clay Buchholz
- Joe Kelly
As with Baltimore there isn’t a great deal of positive things to say about this rotation for 12 team mixed leagues. Porcello has been going in the last couple of rounds of drafts but that is really it. As with Baltimore the most talented pitcher on this roster may well be in the minors to start the year.There is potential some of these guys may be useful for streaming as some point but to start the season there are much better options at the position.
CL: Koji Uehara
SU: Junichi Tazawa
SU: Edward Mujica
MR: Anthony Varvaro
MR: Craig Breslow
MR: Alexi Ogando
LR: Robbie Ross Jr.
Koji Uehara was one of the best closers in baseball when Boston made a run for the title in 2013. However, last year he just wasn’t the same as he struggled to be as effective. Those struggles mean he starts the year close to 20 in the relief pitcher ranks but he does have the ability to be extremely effective and as a bonus should give you more than a strikeout an innings.
Looking down the bullpen there is no stand out closer who could come through and dominate so Uehara is worth a late round gamble to see if he can re-find that top 5 form he once had.
- Blake Swihart, C: Swihart is a popular name on many peoples lips but the fact he is still learning to catch and switch hit to some extent limits the likely hood he gets called up early. There would need to be a few injuries for him to get a chance at catcher and his chances of coming up solely to hit if Ortiz goes down is low as they want to get his catching up to scratch.
- Gavin Cecchini, 3B: It is extremely unlike Cecchini gets much of a chance this year with Boston having at least three players who are capable of manning third base. A name to watch as the season goes on or if the injury bug hits Boston but that’s the extent of his possibilities.
- Devon Marrero, SS: Again there are multiple options in Marrero’s way with Ramirez and Bogaerts able to man the shortstop position. Look for him to come up late in the year as cover potentially.
- Henry Owens, SP: Now this is a real opportunity for a prospect to break through. Boston’s pitching staff is nothing special and this kid could be. An injury or two or a lack of form could find Boston requiring Owens’ services and for fantasy owners that is something worth monitoring.
- Eduardo Rodriguez, SP: Isn’t quite the talent Owens is but there is enough there that he could feature as the year draws on.