The World Series, and with it the baseball season as a whole, ended on Wednesday. Although that means our nights are suddenly free for a few months, it also means the hot stove is about to heat up in a major way. At the same time this post publishes, the Red Sox and all other teams will be allowed to reach out to free agents. Of course, this isn’t like the NFL or even the NBA where there is a flurry of moves as soon as it is legal to make them. MLB takes its time in the offseason, and we have some waiting to do before movement really gets started. Because of that, we’ll wait until next week to really dive deeply into the free agent pool. Right now, we’re going to do one more look back at what happened in 2017. This time, we’ll take a look at some bold(ish) predictions I made before the season and see how well, or not so well, I did.
Prediction #1: Andrew Benintendi — not Mookie Betts — will be Team MVP
Yay or nah: Nah
Well, I managed to be wrong twice in this prediction, as Benintendi did not have a better year than Betts and neither was the team MVP. If we were talking about position players only, these would probably be the top two candidates on the roster and I’d feel a little better about myself. But pitchers are people too, and Chris Sale is easily the team MVP. Craig Kimbrel and Drew Pomeranz probably have arguments over Betts and Benintendi as well. My expectations for the Red Sox rookie outfielder were growing everyday at the time of me writing this original post, and while he wasn’t quite as great as I thought he could be, he showed a lot and proved that he is going to be in this league for a long time. However, Betts reminded me that even if he’s not hitting as well as he’d like he’s too good at everything else for anyone on this roster to be an MVP favorite over him.
Prediction #2: Drew Pomeranz will stay in the rotation all year
Yay or Nah: Yay
This one I basically nailed, though the fact that this was at all bold says more about preseason expectations than anything else. He did miss a start or two due to injuries, but he still took the mound 32 times over the year. When healthy, he was nothing short of spectacular and was easily the second-best starter in the rotation after Sale. There’s no chance the Red Sox would have won the division without him. Injuries were certainly part of the concern heading into the season for Pomeranz, and they kept him out of the rotation early in the year. Still, a lot more of the concern was that he wasn’t good enough to stick in the rotation all year and that he was a better fit in the bullpen. That was bizarre at the time and looks even more bizarre now.
Prediction #3: Sandy Leon keeps his job all year
Yay or Nah: Nah, mostly
So, I was a little too optimistic about Leon heading into this season. Granted, I saw a fairly huge dropoff coming for the 2016 breakout, but in the original post I believed that Leon would be Boston’s starter all year and stick with a wRC+ in the 80’s. I think I could spin it to say he kept his job all year, because he never got designated for assignment as many believed would happen. He played a role from Opening Day to the day they got eliminated, and that’s something. Still, he was worse than I was hoping he’d be and by the end of the year it was incredibly clear that Christian Vazquez was the preferred catcher on this roster.
Prediction #4: Marco Hernandez will be more valuable than Brock Holt
Yay or Nah: Maybe?
This one is hard and honestly really sad. The Red Sox had a ton of options in terms of utility men heading into the year, and I was really high on Hernandez as someone who would play a key role all year. He’s probably never going to be someone you’re psyched about starting, but he’s a really good infielder to have on your bench. Holt has him beat in versatility, but everywhere else I prefer Hernandez. Unfortunately, both players’ years were decimated by injury. Holt played much more on the year, but he was bad enough that, by both Baseball-Reference’s and Fangraphs’ WAR, Hernandez was more valuable. That’s kind of picking nits, though. Neither player was valuable and it was a sad year for both.
Prediction #5: Rafael Devers will get called up in mid-to-late August
Yay or Nah: Nah
This was kind of a leap of faith for me, because I’m never one to predict or call for aggressive promotions for prospects. The Red Sox have been aggressive a ton in the recent past, though, and it just made sense for them to do so with Devers, particularly since it was hard to have any confidence in Pablo Sandoval. Despite finally going out on that limb, I was still wrong. The Red Sox didn’t even wait until August, calling Devers up in late-July. Obviously, they made the right call as he showed he belonged in the majors, even if there were some growing pains here and there.