Opening Day is finally here! It’s the moment we’ve all been not-so-patiently waiting for since the Red Sox crashed out of the ALDS last October. A new season means a clean slate, a chance to create something new and organic. I truly believe that this version of the Sox has the potential to be something special. We’re loaded with talent across the board and could really make some noise in the MLB in 2018. So, in honor of Opening Day, I’m going to give you my bold predictions for this year’s Red Sox.
BOLD predictions means that these probably aren’t going to happen (hence the title), so you’ll notice that things like, “Chris Sale will win the Cy Young,” and, ” J.D. Martinez will hit 30 home runs,” have been omitted. Here we go.
Andrew Benintendi will win AL MVP.
Benny has visibly bulked up in the offseason, adding pounds of muscle in and around his core area. A strong core generally leads to greater power, and I think that Benintendi could hit upwards of 30 home runs this year (he hit 4 in Spring Training alone). I expect his stats to go up across the board in his 2nd full season, putting him in a good position to contend for the top award in baseball.
Mookie Betts will hit .320.
Mookie has all the talent needed to become the next megastar of the MLB. He had a down year last season, but still hit 24 HR and drove in 102 runs. After a slow start to Spring, he seems to be seeing the ball really well and making solid contact entering the new season. He’s also no longer carrying the pressure of being the main power source in the lineup (Martinez will take care of that). I’d be surprised if he didn’t put it all together to have a resurgent year in 2018.
Rafael Devers will have baseball pundits talking about changing the qualifications for Rookie of the Year.
As it currently stands, one can only be considered a rookie if they’ve had less that 130 MLB at-bats. Devers had 222 in 2017. I think that Devers will be so good this year that the talking heads on Baseball Tonight and the like will begin to float the idea of extending the maximum AB’s allowed to still be considered a rookie to 250 in order to allow other guys in Devers’ situation to qualify for ROY candidacy in the future.
(Photo credit: Boston Globe)
Mitch Moreland will take over the everyday 1st baseman job by July.
I’ve been a vocal critic of Hanley Ramirez since his arrival in Boston in 2015. Even in 2016, when he hit 30 HR, I was critical of his seemingly defiant attitude towards the media and the fans. The fact is, aside from that one year, he hasn’t performed well in a Sox uniform, and I don’t expect that to change this year. Add in the fact that 497 plate appearances for Ramirez activates his option for next year (something the Red Sox most certainly do not want), and Mitch Moreland continuing to be his reliable, albeit unsensational self, and you have all the ingredients needed for him to steal the job from under Ramirez’s feet.
Jackie Bradley, Jr. will be traded.
Let’s face it, the Boston farm system is depleted. Dave Dombrowski did what he needed to do to secure Chris Sale, and that meant trading away multiple top prospects. That farm system needs to be replenished somehow, and the best way for that to happen is to trade away major league talent in exchange for prospects. JBJ is a fan favorite, and although his glove is phenomenal, his bat just hasn’t developed to the the level it needs to be. With J.D. Martinez, big league ready Sam Travis (learning to play outfield down in AAA), and a healthy and revitalized Brock Holt waiting in the wings, Bradley will be unloaded by the trade deadline.
David Price will win at least 16 games and have a sub-3.20 ERA.
Price is finally healthy. The former ace and Cy Young winner could be the x-factor that pushes Boston to a title this year, and judging by his performances in September of last year and this year’s Spring Training, he’s ready to become the dominant pitcher we hoped he would be again. I predict that he’s going to stay healthy throughout the entire year and become the second leg of the most dominant 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation in all of baseball.