Over at CBS’ Eye on Baseball blog, they’re running previews throughout the month of March for every team in the league. As a part of those previews, they’ve made up a few over/unders for everyone. Yesterday, their series landed on the Red Sox, and with it came some very interesting propositions. I’m going to attempt to correctly guess them now. If I do well, I’ll brag about it at the end of the year. If I do poorly, we’ll forget this every happened.
Victories against the Yankees: 11
This is a really tough one right off the bat. Starting with last season, the Red Sox have won seven, thirteen, five, twelve and nine games against the Yankees over the last five years. These teams have been relatively close in talent level for the last decade, and figure to be there again in 2015. I do think the Red Sox are a little better, so I’ll take the over, but neither result would surprise me.
Average time of Sunday night games versus the Yankees: 3:29
Pick: *wanking motion*
Dustin Pedroia Slugging Percentage: .444
It’s been two years since Pedroia has eclipsed that mark, and that year he was just barely over it at .449. In 2014, the now-31-year-old’s power fell dramatically as he ended the year with a .376 slugging percentage. Some of that is definitely because of the injury that’s been hampering him for a few years. I think it’s hard to expect him to get back to his old levels in one year, though. He’ll be back above .400, but not all the way up to .450.
Hits David Ortiz will lose to the shift: 18
This is one big shrug. I found this, which says that he lost 21 hits last year by early September. Based on this info, one would think finishing over 18 is a safe bet. I’m going to disagree for two reasons. First, the offense is a lot better than last year. Pitchers will have to attack him differently, and when there are more base runners on ahead of him, defenses can’t play so aggressively against him. Second, I’m too scared to bet against Ortiz.
Amount Ortiz is fined for not keeping a foot in the box: $24,999
If he were to finish over this, it would mean that he was fined five times for this offense. That’s not going to happen. They’ve already said they’ll hold off on fines for the first month, giving him a while to get used to it. I also tend to believe the league won’t be overly aggressive in issuing these fines, and getting five will be borderline impossible. Plus, I think Ortiz would start killing people after his fourth fine.
Xander Bogaerts batting average: .275
Another very tough one from the CBS crew. I do really like Bogaerts for a breakout season this year (very original, I know), but I think it’ll come more in the form of power and OBP than just average. I suspect he’ll still strike out a fair amount of time, so he’ll need some extreme batted ball fortune to come this far up from his .240 mark last season. Eventually he’ll settle in as a .280+ hitter, but this year I’d suspect something more in the .265-.275 range.
Hanley Ramirez plate appearances: 515
This is too hard. I can’t predict injuries, and if I could I’d be getting paid a whole lot of money from some team. It is true that Ramirez hasn’t accrued this many trips to the plate since 2012. It is also true that he was pretty much there last year at 512. The move to the outfield should save his health a little, and the outfield depth should give him rest when he needs it. The Red Sox will need his bat if they want to contend this year, so they can’t rest him too much.
Hanley Ramirez errors in left field: 9
Per Fangraphs’ leaderboards, no left fielder has committed at least nine errors since Alfonso Soriano racked up 11 in 2009. I do believe there are going to be some extreme growing pains for Ramirez as he learns a new position, but expecting him to be one of the worst left fielders is a bit extreme. He’ll be near the top of the error leaderboard, but I won’t bet on double-digits.
Photo credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Mookie Betts stolen bases: 28
The more I think about it, the more I think Betts is going to get plenty of playing time this year, taking the leadoff spot more often than not. If he’s playing that much, he’ll be getting on base a lot. If he’s on base a lot, he’ll be stealing a lot. He’s been a 30+ stolen base guy throughout his pro career, and I’d expect it to continue in 2015.
Blake Swihart plate appearances: 275
The Red Sox an afford to take it easy with their prized catching prospect, with two very capable backstops already on the big-league roster. Christian Vazquez and Ryan Hanigan should be able to hold down the job for the majority of the season, giving Swihart close to a full year in AAA. He’ll be up at some point, but I’m fairly confident in taking the under on this one.
Allen Craig home runs: 14
It’s not that I think he can’t hit more than 14 dingers, but the safer money is on the under. For him to hit 14 homers for the Red Sox, he’ll have to both bounce back from last year’s struggles as well as get the playing time. I think it’s a lot safer to bet on zero or one of those things than it is to bet on both of them happening.
Joe Kelly ERA: 3.79
This one may be a little surprising, but it’s not for the reason you think. I believe that the Red Sox will have a new starter in their rotation by June, whether it be from outside the organization or one of the young guys stepping up and grabbing a spot. This will push Kelly to the bullpen, where he’ll thrive. If he spends the year in the rotation, I’ll take the over, but I think the bullpen can and will do him wonders.
Combined starts for Kelly, Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Clay Buchholz and Justin Masterson: 135
This gives an average of 27 starts for each player. Wade Miley and Rick Porcello have stayed relatively healthy in their career, so I’ll pencil them in for 32 starts each. That leaves 71 for the remaining three, or an average of 23-2/3 starts. Masterson, despite the struggles, has stayed healthy for a while as well, so I’ll give him 30. We now have 41 starts for Kelly and Buchholz. I’m going to peg Kelly for about 12 starts before losing his rotation spot, meaning Buchholz has to make 30 starts to go over 135 for the group. I just can't bet on that.
Moncada exists and here are photos to prove it
The Red Sox and Yoan Moncada haven't made everything official just yet, but he's down in Florida putting on a show.
Koji Uehara saves: 29
I think Uehara is still going to be a very effective pitcher in 2015, but the Red Sox will play it extremely safe with him. At any sign of discomfort, they’ll shut him down for a few days. If he’s thrown a couple days in a row, he’ll get a day or two of rest. They want him to stay healthy all year, and Mujica will take some save opportunities away from him because of that.
John Farrell ejections due to video replays: 3.5
I don’t know, why not?
They set this at a really tough number to pick. This Red Sox team can go in so many different directions that it’s almost impossible to put an exact win total on it. But I’m going to do it anyway! I think this team’s pitching will struggle some, but the offense will be good enough to get them into one of the wild card spots, with around 89 wins.