2022 Season Review: Boston Red Sox

Check out my 2022 Season Preview Article for the Red Sox here.

Image: Billie Weiss / Boston Red Sox / Getty Images

2022 Record: 78-84 (.481 win%, 5th in Division)

2022 Payroll: $223,176,946 (6th)

2022 End of the Year Lineup

1. LF Tommy Pham, .236 AVG/.312 OBP/.374 SLG, 0.6 fWAR

2. 3B Rafael Devers, .295 AVG/.358 OBP/.521 SLG, 4.9 fWAR

3. SS Xander Bogaerts, .307 AVG/.377 OBP/.456 SLG, 6.1 fWAR

4. RF Alex Verdugo, .280 AVG/.328 OBP/.405 SLG, 1.2 fWAR

5. DH J.D. Martinez, .274 AVG/.341 OBP/.448 SLG, 1.0 fWAR

6. 2B Trevor Story, .238 AVG/.303 OBP/.434 SLG, 2.4 fWAR

7. 1B Triston Casas, .197 AVG/.358 OBP/.408 SLG, 0.3 fWAR

8. C Reese McGuire, .269 AVG/.307 OBP/.369 SLG, 1.6 fWAR

9. CF Kiké Hernandez, .222 AVG/.291 OBP/.338 SLG, 0.5 fWAR

10. IF Christian Arroyo, .286 AVG/.322 OBP/.414 SLG, 0.2 fWAR

2022 End of the Year Rotation

1. Nathan Eovaldi, 109.1 IP/3.87 ERA/1.24 WHIP, 1.0 fWAR

2. Michael Wacha, 127.1 IP/3.32 ERA/1.12 WHIP, 1.5 fWAR

3. Nick Pivetta,179.2 IP/4.56 ERA/1.38 WHIP, 1.5 fWAR

4. Rich Hill, 124.1 IP/4.27 ERA/1.30 WHIP, 1.8 fWAR

5. Brayan Bello, 57.1 IP/4.71 ERA/1.78 WHIP, 1.3 fWAR

2022 Top 4 Relievers

1. John Schreiber, 65.0 IP/2.22 ERA/0.99 WHIP, 1.7 fWAR

2. Matt Strahm, 44.2 IP/3.83 ERA/1.23 WHIP, 0.3 fWAR

3. Matt Barnes, 39.2 IP/4.31 ERA/1.44 WHIP, 0.1 fWAR

4. Garret Whitlock*, 78.1 IP/3.29 ERA/1.02 WHIP, 1.4 fWAR

*Whitlock made 9 starts but finished the year in the bullpen

Regular Season Recap:

The 2022 Red Sox were a disappointment, to say the least, especially after a relatively unexpected 2021 season, in which they were two games away from a World Series berth. The season got off to a rough start, having a record as bad as 11-20 in early May. Slow starts from Trevor Story and Nate Eovaldi among others contributed to this record, but the bullpen was key in surrendering several late leads during this stretch. It was during this time however, that John Schreiber began to emerge as one of the few bright spots in the bullpen. 

The Sox were eventually able to turn things around and with the help of a 20-6 record in June, were 43-33 by the start of July. There were multiple highs during this stretch including complete games from Nate Eovaldi, Nick Pivetta, and Michal Wacha, an 8-2 west coast trip, and Rafael Devers at-bats became must-watch events. Although by this time the Sox were firmly in the hunt for a playoff spot, late may and the entirety of June was the lightest schedule they would face all year, and as injuries began to mount when the calendar flipped to July, things went off the rails. 

From July 1st to the All-Star break, the Sox posted a 4-12 record against the Cubs, Rays, and Yankees. Chris Sale would make his only two starts of the year during this stretch, but the lowest point (among many low points) for the Red Sox season seemed to be when Sale’s season ended after he was struck by a line drive in the first inning in his second start against the Yankees. The team limped into the trade deadline with a record of 8-19 in July. At the deadline, the Sox would acquire Reese McGuire, Tommy Pham, and Eric Hosmer, while shipping out Jake Diekman and longtime catcher Christian Vázquez. 

While the team didn’t perform well, and injuries continued to mount, there were a few bright spots. Brayan Bello, the most highly touted pitching prospect in the Red Sox system, pitched extremely well down the stretch, potentially earning himself a spot in the 2023 rotation despite some struggles and bad BABIP luck when he first came up. 

Additionally, first baseman Triston Casas was brought up in September, and despite a .197 average showcased some outstanding plate discipline and defense. In a season where the Red Sox were unable to build on their previous success, perhaps they have found franchise cornerstones that they can build around in the future.

M-SABR Predicted Record (89-73) vs. Actual (78-84):

The Red Sox certainly didn’t live up to expectations this season, and there are multiple things that contributed to their fate of last place in a tough AL East. Pitching certainly let this team down this season. In the rotation, Michael Wacha was a nice surprise, but Nate Eovaldi took a step back, Nick Pivetta failed to impress, and there was a revolving door of rookies, including Josh Winckowski and Connor Seabold that were each forced to make a handful of starts this year. 

The bullpen was a mess as well, and contributed to many blown leads and saves, particularly early in the season. The lineup was still solid, producing 4.54 runs per game (9th in MLB), but it was still streaky and wasn’t able to frequently produce runs in bunches, due to only 155 homers (19th in MLB). Injuries however, played a huge role. While many everyday players didn’t play up to their fullest potential, several key contributors saw time on the IL this year, leaving their spots to replacement players who often weren’t able to contribute.

Surprise of the Season:

There were multiple players who surprised by not living up to expectations, but let’s discuss someone that exceeded expectations. Michael Wacha signed a one-year deal in the offseason to serve as a back-end starter, but ended up being the Red Sox best starter when he was healthy. 

He finished with a 3.32 ERA in 127.1 IP, which was his best ERA since 2018. While some of the underlying numbers weren’t pretty, Wacha routinely got the job done when he took the mound. In a season that saw plenty of injuries to starting pitchers, Wacha did more than what was expected of him. He will be a name to watch in the offseason as well, as he could be a candidate to return to the Sox in 2023. 

Players We Watched: 

Rafael Devers was easily the best player the Sox had for the first four months of the season, before an IL stint at the end of July and slowing down towards the end of the year. He would finish with a .295 batting average and 27 home runs. Devers was the hottest in the month of May, hitting .381 with 8 home runs, and seemingly barreling up anything regardless of where it was pitched. He made his second All-Star Game appearance this year as a starter for the American League and is entering his final year of team control in 2023. 

Triston Casas came into 2022 as one of the most hyped prospects in all of baseball. It was expected that he would be called up to the majors sometime in the summer, but an ankle injury pushed his timeline back to September. He would only appear in 27 games at the big-league level in 2022 and only muster a .197 average. Despite the average though, he would record a .358 OBP, showing some outstanding plate discipline to go along with 5 home runs.

Coming into the season, it was unclear what Tanner Houck’s role would be. He had success in the rotation in 2021, but his struggles when seeing lineups for the third time in a game were apparent. He would only make 4 starts on the season before being relegated to bullpen duty, and even served as the closer for a short time, where he was effective in that. He would finish the year with a solid 3.15 ERA in 60 IP, but his season was cut short in mid-August due to a back injury, but should be primed for a prominent bullpen role in 2023.

Offseason Outlook:

The Red Sox are entering an offseason in which there are far more questions than answers. With several contributors becoming free agents, including Eovaldi, Martinez, Bogaerts, and Wacha, there will be lots of money coming off the books. The biggest story for the Red Sox this offseason revolves around longtime shortstop Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts has an opt-out clause in his contract which he is almost certain to exercise. 

The Red Sox seemed unwilling to give Bogaerts the contract he was seeking before the season, but after slashing .307/.377/.456 with much improved defense (career best 89th percentile outs above average), perhaps the Sox brass has changed its tune. Would they let their captain, face of the franchise, and two-time World Series champion walk? We’ll have to wait and see.

Bogaerts is merely the first hurdle in the lineup the Red Sox face this offseason. Should he leave, the team will have holes to fill in the middle infield, right field, and at DH. Kiké Hernandez and Alex Verdugo appear to have center field and left field locked up, but after the departure of Hunter Renfroe last year, there was a revolving door of right fielders in 2022. 

Tommy Pham has a mutual option for 2023, but the team will most likely explore their options. Brandon Nimmo could be a candidate for right field in free agency, while Max Kepler might make an intriguing trade option. J.D. Martinez seems unlikely to return after a successful stint with the team, but an underwhelming 2022 season. Free agent candidates to replace Martinez include Mitch Haniger and José Abreu, however the Sox might also opt to use the DH spot to give their everyday starters rest days, and opt to give at-bats to someone like Pham or Christian Arroyo. 

The Sox need to add pitchers in the offseason as well. For the rotation, due to Chris Sale’s injury history, it might be best to construct a rotation as if he isn’t part of the team. A front-line starter is badly needed, and this could come in the form of free agents such as Carlos Rodon or Chris Bassitt, or perhaps in a trade for someone like Shane Bieber or Corbin Burnes. 

Additionally, the Sox could look to bring back one or both of Nate Eovaldi and Michael Wacha for the middle of the rotation. For the back of the rotation, Bello figures to play a role along with Pivetta, but the Sox could still stand to add some depth in the form of a free agent veteran like Carlos Carrasco or Corey Kluber. Whitlock may also be vying for a rotation spot in 2023.

The bullpen should look much different next year. Pitchers with team control who should play big roles next year include Houck, Schreiber, and Whitlock. Matt Barnes is under contract next year, and may have earned himself a lower-leverage role next year after a solid end to the season. 

Matt Strahm was effective in his role this year and could be brought back as a left-handed option. A closing pitcher is badly needed for this team. The biggest name on the market will be Edwin Diaz, who figures to be in line for a huge payday. While the Sox were willing to give up significant capital for Craig Kimbrel in 2016, it is unclear if they will want to give a sizable contract to Diaz. 

Kenley Jansen will also be a free agent this offseason as well if they are looking for a lower price tag. Other free agent bullpen arms that could be under consideration include Rafael Montero, Michael Fulmer, David Robertson, Robert Suarez, Seth Lugo, and Taylor Rogers.

Something to Watch:

When chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom was hired in 2019, one of his goals was to replenish the farm system that had been depleted in pursuit of the 2018 World Series. While the Red Sox minor league system doesn’t rank at the very top in all of baseball, Bloom has made significant progress and the system now boasts several top names like Marcelo Mayer, Miguel Bleis, Nick Yorke, and Ceddanne Rafaela, not to mention Casas and Bello who are now in the majors.

The Red Sox have lots of money coming off the books this offseason to spend on free agents, but with as thin as this year’s free agent class is, it will be interesting to see if the Sox look to make some trades from the prospect depth they’ve accumulated over the last few years.

Categories: 2022 Season Review, Articles, Post-COVID

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4 replies

  1. Left out one thing :
    Lack of ownership and management initiative and ultimately, interest in winning.

  2. Good article! The season was a massive disappointment, and the trades (and lack there of) the Sox made definitely made the back end of the season almost unwatchable. Ownership is going to need a good plan this off season, especially with the rest of the East as strong as it is.

    • Last off-season didn’t work out so well either. I think ownership and management feel that if they can put people in the seats their goal is accomplished. I feel bad for Cora and the players

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