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Friday Flyby - Community Predictions

We had three predictions. We can roll with that.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays
Our readers seem to believe, by and large, we’ll be seeing a lot of this type of celebration post-game.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

So here’s the Flyby. This is the part of FanPost Friday where we recap your responses and respond to points raised, to continue my half of the dialogue exchange.

Here’s the link to the prompt, and this next link is a link to superlatives. It isn’t quite the same as full-on staff predictions, but it can help you get a feel for where each member of the staff is at with the team in a nutshell.

For those new to the Flyby, the format goes as follows, I link to a FanPost (I recap ALL FanPosts made about the topic), and summarize in my own words what their basic point is (though I recommend reading each for yourself!) in less than 100 words. I then respond to what I consider the biggest selling point of their FanPost, and try to keep the dialogue running in the comments below. Then we start over again with the next FanPost Friday, which will start a week from today (the opening week was just kind of messy on scheduling thanks to MLB).

FanPost Friday - Nick Armstrong

Nick Armstrong writes a recap for each division, hitting on each team with a quick blurb to give you a general idea of how he believes each division is going to go. He states that he believes the Killer B’s and solid pitching will be what makes us division winners. His boldest claims are that he believes David Price will return to ace form, and that the catching position, spearheaded by Christian Vazquez, will hold us back.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays
Is Christian Vazquez going to hold the team back from reaching its offensive potential? Possibly, but at least the glove and arm are legit.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The point I’m going to hit on is his claim that David Price is going to return to ace form. I’ve always been one of the strongest defenders of David Price since he signed on the dotted line, and was always one of the most willing to hand-wave past indiscretions, such as his “nerds” statement, his perceived arrogance, as well as his history with the Red Sox organization.

Even the rosiest of glasses can’t hide some big underlying problems with Price’s tenure in Boston. His first season was fine. It wasn’t extraordinary, and certainly not all that ace-like, but he pitched a ton of innings, and was a stabilizing force when needed, while he got hammered with some awful luck (like the time a sandstorm interrupted what was a good effor). His second season, he finally succumbed to a serious injury for the first time in his career. When he played, we saw signs of the pitcher of yesteryear, with Price tapping into his previous form. It wasn’t always consistent, but he was showing not to count him out, even with his injury.

David Price’s Post-Season stats /

Above, I have shared an image of David Price’s success in the post-season. I use the term success very loosely. He’s had a few good performances in the playoffs, though until 2017, he’d been labeled a poor post-season pitcher. In 2016, he only seemingly confirmed everyone’s worst fears, but in 2017, he went from goat to GOAT in an instant.

To say David Price almost single-handedly forced game 5 in that series with the Astros is hyperbolic, but darn if he didn’t try. In Game 2, he came in part-way through the third inning, after a bad showing from Drew Pomeranz, got ready in a hurry, and pitched his heart out for the next 2.2 innings, getting the bullpen to the 6th inning, where he turned the ball over to Eduardo Rodriguez. In Game 3, he one-upped himself, going four strong innings (again, in relief, and only 2 days after his last performance) against the best team in baseball. When everything else was going wrong, Price was the stabilizing force that kept the team in the series. And perhaps it is wrong to say the Sox were in the series, having lost 3-1, but Price did everything he could.

If this David Price shows up, and pitches like he did at the end of the 2017 season and post-season, the Red Sox could have the best #2 starting pitcher in the league, which is of real benefit when you look at the bullpen and feel a sense of relative unease. Even with the success of Craig Kimbrel, and to some extent, Carson Smith, Joe Kelly, and Heath Hembree in the past, it’s a bullpen that is possibly considered the weakness of the team.

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at Boston Red Sox
Today, David Price will take the mound and try to reverse the ugliness of the first game of the season.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

This got out of hand in a hurry, but it’s worth remembering, David Price is an excellent pitcher, and we’re fortunate to have him, even if the cost is high.

It’s Their World, We Just Live In It - gosawks

Poster gosawks largely leaves his standings opinions to the AL East, to focus on the reason we’re here, the Boston Red Sox. Like Nick Armstrong, he believes it’s going to be a very close race and decided in the last few days of the season. He also predicts David Price will rebound in a way, finishing top 10 in the Cy Young race (but below Sale). The prediction I like to see the most, though, is his prediction that the Red Sox will be led in hits by none other than Xander Bogaerts.

I want to tap into the Xander Bogaerts thing, because as we saw yesterday, Bogaerts was essentially the best pure hitter on the Sox, being one of two players with multiple hits (the other being Eduardo Nunez, who had that odd inside-the-park home run). Xander also led the team in runs for the game.

If the opening day lineup is any indication, the Red Sox are counting on Xander returning to form, slotting him directly behind J.D. Martinez, and directly ahead of Rafael Devers, arguably the two most threatening power bats in the lineup.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays
Xander Bogaerts may end up as a lynchpin of the offense. If he gets on base, Eduardo Nunez is going to be relied upon, along with Rafael Devers, to bring him home.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, it was hard to fault people who were disappointed in Bogaerts, and have a cynical outlook on his ability to rebound in 2018. It’s hard to argue statistically. Even in 2016, when he hit 21 HRs, and appeared to be a burgeoning power bat on the surface, it all fell apart when you looked at his other statistics. His .152 ISO was comparable to Brandon Crawford, a player with almost half as many homers, and Bogaerts’ batted ball profiles didn’t match up with the profile of a future power hitter.

Of course, he battled multiple hand injuries, all year long, having been hit there multiple times. When he wasn’t hit there, there were lots of inside pitches that sapped his already limited power. As a result, his 2017 saw his production fall quite a bit.

Thursday was too limited of a sample size from which to draw any real conclusions, but Xander’s approach at the plate seems remarkably better than it was even two seasons ago. He was able to square up and drive two pitches for doubles, which will play a vital role in how many extra runs the Sox can score after the top of the order is through. Over the off-season, with the hiring of Alex Cora, there was an optimism that there’d be work done on his swing, and it appears that those hopes will be rewarded.

It’s a long season, but he started the season on the right foot, and has certainly captured the attention of more than a few.

How the Red Sox will Achieve World Domination in 2018 - Ricochet!

Ricochet predicts that the Red Sox are basically going to steamroll everything, and that they win the World Series against the Dodgers. He admits these predictions are really ludicrous, and I’m fairly certain he was joking for the most part, but there’s nothing wrong with having fun and hoping for the best with a new year.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays
No, the Red Sox should not fire Alex Cora after one game, do not be ridiculous.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The topic I want to hit on, since it’s relevant after last night’s game is one bit where he says “Alex Cora turns out to be a great manager and #FireCora doesn’t exist”. Clearly, he forgot that this is a site for Red Sox fans, because unless Alex Cora went 162-0, there was no way we were getting through this season without a contingent of people starting the Fire Cora bandwagon.

I wish I were joking, but you can see on Twitter, just by searching “fire Cora” that more than a few fans share this sentiment of firing Alex Cora. There are some that are obviously jokes, because the best way to get rid of pain is with humor, but there are just as many that are seriously suggesting firing a manager one game into his MLB managerial career.

I shouldn’t have to explain that one game is a ludicrous trial period for a manager.

So I’m not going to. Would I have done something differently than Cora? Sure, but bringing in Joe Kelly during a 4-0 game is hardly a fireable offense (at least the first time). Alex Cora will probably be fine. He grades out positively league-wide, and has said all the right things, and the players seem to have his back. I just ask we wait a couple months before bringing out the pitchforks.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays
How Joe Kelly is used by Alex Cora in 2018 is going to determine a lot of ball games, I wager.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After all, it’s not like the Bobby Valentine disaster we walked through in the season that shall not be named.

We don’t have much time for my own predictions here, so I’ll leave my general statement brief. I believe it’s going to be a fun year, and that our offense is going to be legitimately surprising to everybody. I think Chris Sale is going to finally win that elusive Cy Young, and that the Red Sox are going to be battling for first place until the end of the season. I’m not sure this team will win the World Series, but this is a team that can do just that. It’s all going to depend on a little hitting, a little pitching, and a lot of luck. Most importantly though, it’s going to be a fun ride I get to share with all of you.