We are one game into the 2022 season, and while Opening Day certainly did not go the way we were all hoping here at OTM, it is still a very long year and one game does not a season make. You needn’t look very far for an example of this being true, either, as the Red Sox started their 2021 campaign with three straight losses to the lowly Orioles. We know how the season went from there. So with that in mind, and knowing that one game doesn’t really alter the perception of a season, some staff members took a crack at 2022 predictions for this week’s roundtable. For reference, I asked everyone for a win total, where they’d finish in the playoff race, and who would win the World Series.
I’m going to go with second Wild Card, finishing with 88 wins. I think they might be close to the third Wild Card, but the offense is good enough, I think, to carry them to a few more wins they need to get to the second spot. That said, I still have concerns about the pitching and what they can get out of, well, everyone really. Health is a concern, and for those for whom it isn’t, effectiveness is a concern, so how much can the offense offset what I expect to be inconsistencies with the pitching? I have no idea. For the World Series, I’m going to go with the Blue Jays over the Brewers.
Bayleigh Von Schneider
Red Sox win total: 95 (1st WC)
I believe the Red Sox are a better team than they were last year. The bullpen, I find, is the only glaring issue. The lineup is deep, and the starting rotation has more depth than it did to begin the 2021 season. A good deal of success will hinge on whenever Chris Sale returns to the rotation and how he performs. In my opinion, a true championship window does not begin for the Red Sox until the 2023 season. The 2021 season was a nice surprise, and the addition of Trevor Story proves that Chaim Bloom is willing to invest in the 2022 season. I believe the Sox finish behind the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East.
I think that the Red Sox will go 90-72 this year and finish in third place in the division. At the moment, I have the Yankees ahead of them, by a small margin, along with the Rays trailing very closely behind. As we all know, Tampa Bay can be a sneaky team every year, but my only thought is that they have not improved their roster almost at all since last year. In fact, they have lost Tyler Glasnow, Nelson Cruz, Collin McHugh, Michael Wacha, and Chris Archer, while making few acquisitions. I also have the Red Sox getting the second Wild Card. They have a scary lineup, even better than last year with the addition of Trevor Story. But, with Chris Sale’s injury and their lack of acquisitions of starting pitching over the offseason, the rotation is a weak spot; and there is still cause for concern with the Sox’s below average defense, even with the addition of a great defender in Story. Because of this, I doubt that the Red Sox finish above third in the division this year, but I do believe that they could make some sort of magical run like last year in the playoffs, since I currently have them making the Wild Card.
For my World Series matchup, I have the Dodgers vs. Blue Jays, with the Blue Jays winning in six games. Although I don’t think there is a clear best team right now, in either league, I think that the Blue Jays present the biggest threat overall, with a deep pitching staff and consistent lineup. Even though the Blue Jays have not had much success in the playoffs historically, I think this could be a year that they could pull off a deep run. As for the Dodgers, they only got so much better with the addition of Freddie Freeman this offseason, and will most likely win the NL West this year. Even I am not confident in my prediction, though, and I seriously believe that this season could go any which way, and will probably end up surprising people.
Given the four good teams in the division and the number of times they have to play each other, losing Chris Sale for at least two months, the unknown qualities of the rotation, and a hole to be filled by what’s left of Jackie Bradley Jr. I’m putting the Sox at 88 wins. Of the non-Orioles teams in the AL East the Sox may have the largest variability. Tanner Houck, Nick Pivetta, Rich Hill/Garrett Whitlock, James Paxton, and Michael Wacha could line up behind Nathan Eovaldi as ace pitchers or as belly-itchers, to say nothing of the Chris Sale situation. The offense is legit and will carry them to respectability either way, but it’ll take strong pitching performances to hit the mid-90s and guarantee a playoff spot. Which, as we saw in 2021, could easily happen. Then pitching has talent, they just need that to turn into quality innings over the season.
I think the Red Sox end up finishing the season third in the division and with the last Wild Card spot. That doesn’t completely line up with my win prediction, but the other divisions are not as competitive so we might see 4 teams from the AL East in October. (Note: I’m still against the expanded playoffs even if that gets the Sox into October.). That said I’m not straying far from the easy pick for World Series: Blue Jays over Dodgers.
I think the 2022 Red Sox will be a good but not great team, ultimately missing out on the playoffs while putting together an 83-79 campaign. The top two-thirds of the lineup is strong and Trevor Story definitely lifts the ceiling of an already solid bunch, but the pitching staff, both in the rotation and the bullpen, is rough. I’m a big Tanner Houck believer, but even if he becomes the starting pitcher I think he can be, that gives the Red Sox maybe three or four pitchers I’d actually trust. Everyone else has too many ifs attached to their resumes to make me confident. It’s not utterly doom and gloom, but in a very competitive American League East, I think the Red Sox have too many glaring shortcomings to wind up in the postseason, even with more opportunities to do so.
As for my World Series pick, I have the Dodgers defeating the Blue Jays in the bluest October you’ve ever seen. Call me boring, but FanGraphs projects them as the two most likely World Series winners for a reason.
I think the Red Sox will finish with a record of 90-72 this year and make it back to the playoffs as the second Wild Card team in the American League. I do not believe they will make it all the way to the World Series, though. For the Fall Classic, I have the Dodgers winning their second title in three seasons by beating the Rays in a six-or seven-game series.
As for why I believe the Red Sox are a Wild Card team, it is undeniable that the American League East is going to be an extremely tough division this year with four of the five teams looking like contenders. That being said, the Red Sox have one of the best lineups in baseball and their starting rotation will only get better with the additions of James Paxton and Chris Sale down the line. There is legitimate concern about the bullpen, but I think Alex Cora and Co. can weather that storm as they did last year.
Speaking of Cora, he is undoubtedly one of the best managers in the game and I do believe that is worth something. The Red Sox have never finished with a losing record under Cora, and I expect that trend to continue in 2022. Perhaps I am being overly optimistic with my win total prediction, but this Red Sox team – in my mind – is a playoff team. Winning the division will be a challenge but clinching a Wild Card spot should be in their grasp.
I don’t think the Red Sox are going to be close to a disaster this season, and in fact I would be disappointed by anything other than a season that keeps them in the race until at least the last week of the season. That said, the pitching is scary enough to me that I have them just missing out on the playoffs and finishing fourth in the division with 85 wins. I think the other three AL East teams that are good (i.e. not the Orioles) will make it as Wild Cards, and I think one of the Mariners, Tigers — I’m weirdly into the Tigers this year — or Angels will supplant Boston and make it a clean sweep in the East for the Wild Cards. As for the World Series, I don’t know how in good conscious anyone can pick against this Dodgers team. I’ll say they beat the Astros.