It’s almost here. We are now, when you’re reading this, give or take 24 hours from Opening Day. (Or maybe it’s like, July and you just found this on Google months from now. If so, hello. Glad the Earth is still habitable.) We have spent the past three days doing some community votes for a few preseason superlative predictions, specifically voting for team MVP, best pitcher, defensive wizard, most surprising player, most disappointing player, and the unsung hero. Now, we reveal the staff votes as well as who you all, the readers, selected.
Community: Xander Bogaerts (52%)
Matt, Bryan, Jake K., Phil, Shelly, Brady: Xander Bogaerts
Jake D., Mike C., Mike W.: Rafael Devers
Keaton: J.D. Martinez
Bogaerts was not a unanimous selection, but he was the overwhelming favorite both among the community vote and the staff. This makes a whole lot of sense to me (duh, I voted for him) since I believe he is clearly the best player on the team. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I understand the different rationales for what valuable means, but I have a hard time thinking anything is more valuable than being the best among a certain group.
Community: Eduardo Rodriguez (50%)
Matt, Mike W., Phil, Shelly, Keaton: Eduardo Rodriguez
Bryan, Jake K., Jake D.: Garrett Richards
Mike C.: Adam Ottavino
Brady: Chris Sale
Another one with a clear favorite, although I was surprised the staff was as split as it was. Looking specifically at you Carlucci, because if Ottavino is Boston’s best pitcher in 2021 it’s going to be a long year. No shade at Ottavino, but that does not bode well. Probably true for Brady’s Sale pick as well. I will admit to being a bit scared off by the latest with Rodriguez’s issues to start the year, but I still think he’s pretty clearly the most talented pitcher who will pitch in April, and that’s good enough for me.
Community: Kiké Hernández (33%)
Matt, Bryan, Phil: Christian Vázquez
Mike C., Mike W., Keaton: Alex Verdugo
Jake D., Brady: Kiké Hernández
Jake K., Shelly: Hunter Renfroe
This was a really close community vote. In fact, I checked on these before I went to bed last night and it was actually tied between Hernández and Vázquez, with Verdugo being one vote behind. Hernández got a couple more votes overnight to take the lead. I picked Vázquez largely because I just think catcher defense is more important than anything else, but with Hernández being able to play good defense at multiple premium spots, I certainly see the logic there. Verdugo and Renfroe are good too, but I’m not sure I can put them ahead of the other two.
Community: Bobby Dalbec (30%)
Matt, Keaton: Hunter Renfroe
Bryan: Jarren Duran
Jake K.: Franchy Cordero
Jake D.: Bobby Dalbec
Mike C.: Garrett Richards
Mike W.: Nick Pivetta
Phil: Michael Chavis
Shelly: Connor Seabold
Brady: Jeter Downs
I’m not sure if it’s good or bad that there are seemingly so many options for a surprise here. On the one hand, that’s a lot of players for which there is at least some optimism. On the other, it’s a long list of players with relatively low expectations. For me, I picked Renfroe mostly because my view on him has steadily gotten better as the spring went on, so in a way I’m expecting to be surprised based on my own expectations.
Community: J.D. Martinez (24%)
Matt, Phil: Garrett Richards
Shelly, Brady: Nick Pivetta
Mike W., Keaton: Bobby Dalbec
Jake D.: J.D. Martinez
Bryan: Martín Pérez
Jake K.: Matt Barnes
Mike C.: Chris Sale
I’m not surprised Martinez won this vote, and in fact I was very close to picking him myself. I shied away at the last second because I just feel like 2020 was such an aberration for everyone and him specifically with the video that I am giving him the benefit of the doubt. It’s picking more with my heart than my head, perhaps. I went with Richards, because I don’t think he’s going to hold up all season, and that may pop up with bad performance rather than injury.
Community: Garrett Whitlock (26%)
Jake D., Keaton: Garrett Whitlock
Matt, Shelly: Matt Andriese
Mike C., Mike W.: Kiké Hernández
Bryan: Darwinzon Hernandez
Jake K.: Hirokazu Sawamura
Phil: Christian Vázquez
Brady: Josh Taylor
This is always my favorite category, and I was surprised to see as much agreement as there was. I’m not sure Whitlock is going to be able to fly enough under the radar to qualify for me, but that’s why I like this one so much. Everyone has a different interpretation. I should note that Shelly and I had the same pick last year in this category, and that was Marcus Walden. So, uh, maybe fade Andriese this year.