2022 Season Preview: Boston Red Sox

Image: NBC Sports Boston

Boston Red Sox

by Nick Durand

2021 Record: 92-70 (.568 win%, 2nd in AL East)

2021 Payroll: $209,596,928 (6th)

Projected 2022 Lineup:

1. CF Kiké Hernández, .246 AVG/.326 OBP/.442 SLG, 3.1 fWAR

2. 3B Rafael Devers, .280 AVG/.348 OBP/.542 SLG, 4.9 fWAR

3. SS Xander Bogaerts, .276 AVG/.355 OBP/.474 SLG, 4.3 fWAR

4. DH J.D. Martinez, .270 AVG/.343 OBP/.497 SLG, 1.9 fWAR 

5. 2B Trevor Story, .251 AVG/.326 OBP/.459 SLG, 3.8 fWAR

6. LF Alex Verdugo, .285 AVG/.351 OBP/.450 SLG, 2.4 fWAR

7. 1B Bobby Dalbec, .236 AVG/.310 OBP/.492 SLG, 1.1 fWAR  

8. C Christian Vázquez, .253 AVG/.307 OBP/.387 SLG, 1.5 fWAR

9. RF Jackie Bradley Jr., .215 AVG/.293 OBP/.363 SLG, 0.3 fWAR

Projected 2022 Rotation:

1. Nathan Eovaldi, 183.0 IP/3.90 ERA/1.20 WHIP, 3.4 fWAR

2. Nick Pivetta, 165.0 IP/4.58 ERA/1.35 WHIP, 1.9 fWAR

3. Tanner Houck, 147.0 IP/4.10 ERA/1.30 WHIP, 2.1 fWAR

4. Michael Wacha, 122.0 IP/4.62 ERA/1.33 WHIP, 1.2 fWAR

5. Rich Hill, 113.0 IP/4.95 ERA/1.40 WHIP, 0.5 fWAR

Projected 2022 Top 3 Relievers:

1. Matt Barnes, 66.0 IP/3.57 ERA/1.24 WHIP, 0.9 fWAR

2. Garrett Whitlock, 86.0 IP/3.84 ERA/1.27 WHIP, 0.8 fWAR

3. Jake Diekman, 70.0 IP/3.78 ERA/1.34 WHIP, 0.5 fWAR

Offseason Recap:

Prior to the lockout, the Red Sox saw the departure of Eduardo Rodrguez to the Detroit Tigers, leaving a hole in the middle of the starting rotation. The Sox signed veteran pitchers Rich Hill and Michael Wacha to one year deals, as well as James Paxton (recovering from Tommy John last year) to a one year deal with club options for the second and third years. Additionally, Chaim Bloom and Co. opted to capitalize on the trade value of RF Hunter Renfroe, shipping him off to Milwaukee to bring back defensive star Jackie Bradley Jr., as well as two prospects in Alex Binelas and David Hamilton. 

After the lockout, the Red Sox looked for bullpen help to replace relief pitcher Adam Ottavino, signing lefties Jake Diekman and Matt Strahm to two-year and one-year deals, respectively. The biggest move of the offseason came pretty late offering a six-year $140 million deal with Trevor Story during Spring Training. Story will play second base for Boston despite previously being Colorado’s shortstop. At the start of spring training, it was also announced that Chris Sale will begin the season on the injured list, due to a rib-cage injury.

2022 Season Preview:

Offense should once again be the name of the game for the Red Sox, as it has been for the last few years. They have a lineup that is as good as any, fueled by young star Rafael Devers who should once again produce at a high level. There shouldn’t be much concern about Boston’s top and middle of the lineup, but 7-9 is where things get interesting. Bobby Dalbec had an up and down season last year filled with swings and misses and hard hit balls. He’s the wild card in the lineup, and risks being replaced at first base by top prospect Triston Casas if he doesn’t perform. Christian Vázquez and Jackie Bradley Jr. should be solid defensive contributors in the last two spots. Additionally, this is a group that should play better defense as a whole with the additions of JBJ and Trevor Story. 

Pitching will be what determines the fate of the Red Sox in 2022. The depth of the rotation will be tested immediately with the departure of Rodriguez and yet another injury to Chris Sale. Nathan Eovaldi will look to build on a breakout 2021 season, while Nick Pivetta and Tanner Houck will try for breakout seasons of their own. Wacha and Hill will compete with Garrett Whitlock for the final spots in the rotation. The bullpen will be anchored by closer Matt Barnes and the aforementioned Whitlock, if he isn’t in the rotation. Diekman should be a solid contributor too. After those three, the scraps will go to the likes of Matt Strahm, Josh Taylor, Ryan Brasier, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Hirokazu Sawamura. The pitching staff is where the Sox would likely be making a deadline addition, should they be in position to do so.

Record Prediction: 89-73

The Sox exceeded the expectations of many last season by finishing with 92 wins en-route to a loss in the ALCS. In a vacuum, it doesn’t seem that this is a team that got that much better or worse. The lineup and defense took a step forward, while the rotation and bullpen took a step back. Boston is about the same as last year in terms of their ability, but the additions made by their division foes, particularly the Blue Jays and Yankees, should make it difficult to reach the 92 win mark again.

Player to Watch #1: 3B Rafael Devers

Rafael Devers is entering his fifth full season as a major leaguer and has quietly become one of the best third basemen in the game. While he is an average defender on his best days and not a strong base runner, Devers rakes. He is coming off a .279/.352/.538 season, and will likely be moving into the second spot in the lineup this year, where he hit for much of 2019 behind Mookie Betts. A potential contract extension also hangs in the balance for Devers before he enters his final year of arbitration in 2023.

Player to Watch #2: 1B Triston Casas (AAA Worcester – MLB #16 Overall Prospect)

While Triston Casas will begin the season at AAA Worcester, he is likely to have an impact on the big league club at some point this year. Bobby Dalbec will start the year at first base (with contributions from Travis Shaw), but Casas is waiting in the wings. A first round draft pick in 2018, he slashed .284/.395/.484 with 13 home runs in 77 games with AA Portland last year. As the #16 prospect in baseball by MLB.com with major pop in his bat, Casas should at least be ready to be a platoon option at first base by the middle of the season. While he isn’t well known right now, he could make some noise later in the year.

Player to Watch #3:  RHP Tanner Houck

For the third consecutive season, Chris Sale won’t start on Opening Day for the Red Sox, and with the departure of Eduardo Rodriguez, Houck steps into a mid-rotation role. He was solid last year, starting 13 games and throwing a total of 69.0 innings (with some bullpen work) to go along with an impressive 3.52 ERA and 2.53 FIP. He did a tremendous job of limiting hard contact while generating some crazy swings and misses with his wipeout slider that he features 37.1% of the time. It will be important for him to have a strong start to the year in order to retain his rotation spot after Sale returns.

Categories: 2022 Season Preview

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