MADISON, March 26, 2014 — Over the next few weeks this column will unveil MLB Power Rankings starting with the weakest team and working towards the strongest. Today the process continues by looking at number four, the Boston Red Sox.
2013 Record: 97-65 with a +197 run differential.
Key Additions: IF Jonathan Herrera, C AJ Pierzynski, RHP Edward Mujica, RHP Burke Badenhop, OF Grady Sizemore, LHP Chris Capuano,
Key Losses: OF Jacoby Ellsbury, C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, SS Stephen Drew (stil a FA), LHP Matt Thornton, RHP Ryan Dempster, RHP Andrew Bailey, RHP Joel Hanrahan, LHP Franklin Morales
Projected 2014 Lineup:
OF Grady Sizemore
2B Dustin Pedroia
DH David Ortiz
1B Mike Napoli
OF Daniel Nava/Jonny Gomes
SS Xander Bogaerts
C AJ Pierzynski
OF Shane Victorino
3B Will Middlebrooks
Projected 2014 Rotation:
Best Case: The best case for this team would be a replay of 2013 when they stayed relatively healthy, received career average or above production from most regulars and saw the minor league system take a step forward. Xander Bogaerts looks completely comfortable at shortstop and wins the AL Rookie of the Year. David Ortiz continues to defy father time and posts a .300/.395/.525 slash line in the middle of the lineup. Grady Sizemore makes 300 plate appearances before being injured, at which point, Jackie Bradley Jr. seamlessly assumes Sizemore’s spot atop the lineup.
The rotation again stays healthy with all five starters logging over 160 innings, while the bullpen is somewhere between the 2013 regular season and 2013 postseason in effectiveness. The Red Sox win the AL East again by enough to align their rotation for the playoffs.
Worst Case: Something along the lines of 2012 where the team was ravaged by injuries. The pitching depth is tested early, as Buchholz and Peavy continue to be plagued by injuries as they have in recent years. The club is forced to rely on their unproven minor leaguers who struggle. David Ortiz finally starts to show signs of age and dips to .270/.370/.470. The team fails to defend their World Series title and finishes third in the AL East and out of the playoffs.
Prospect Watch: The Red Sox farm system is deep and should provide the ball club with great pitching depth. The consensus top player is Xander Bogaerts who emerged in the playoffs last year and will be at shortstop for the big club on Opening Day. Bogaerts posted a .297/.388/.477 line in the minors last year while splitting time between AA and AAA. Jackie Bradley Jr also got a taste of the majors last year but struggled initially. Bradley posted a .275/.374/.469 line in AAA and will likely open 2014 there, but is a phone call away if anything happens to Grady Sizemore. Other hitters who could help in late 2014 or 2015 include 3B Garin Cecchini, C Blake Swihart and 2B Mookie Betts who all ranked on most top 100 lists. The club also has great pitching depth at AAA with Henry Owens, Allen Webster, Anthony Renaudo all on top 100 lists opening the season there, and the club took advantage of their highest pick in over 30 years to nab LHP Trey Ball with the seventh overall pick in the 2013 draft.