The Red Sox saw iconic slugger David Ortiz head into retirement, but the Carmines picked up southpaw Chris Sale from the White Sox and may have a budding superstar in Andrew Benintendi, so those who have this team ranked in the Top 5 in MLB are spot on. Let’s take a look at the AL favorites.
Manager John Farrell and the Red Sox (93-69, 1st in AL East in 2016) finished with the best Run Differential in the AL (+184) last season, with Boston (878- 694) trailing only the world champion Chicago Cubs (+252) in that category. The Red Sox (92½ -115 Regular Season Wins, BetMania) went a tepid 47-34 at Fenway Park but an impressive 46-35 on the Road, the best mark in the AL and a big reason why this team won its division, 4 games above both the Orioles and Blue Jays, both 89-73. Expect both Baltimore (80½ -120, BetMania) and Toronto (85½ -130, BetMania) to be nipping at the Red Sox's heels along with their nemesis, the Yankees (82½ -130, BetMania), who look to improve on their 84-78 record.
Offseason Moves, Life After Big Papi?
Obviously the biggest thing that happened to the Red Sox (+450 to win World Series, BetMania) this offseason was the retirement of the iconic David Ortiz, who went out his last season with numbers and a reputation few MLB players ever enjoy. His presence and demeanor in the clubhouse would be a loss to any team, but luckily Boston is deep and proud and planned for this day. But Boston did make a big move, trading some valuable future talent for White Sox (55/1 to win AL, BetMania) LHP Chris Sale to bolster the team’s starting pitching.
The BoSox -- currently with no GM but with Dave Dombrowski as President of Baseball Operations -- also signed Gold Glove 1B Mitch Moreland (Rangers), but despite possibly having the best roster in MLB and being one of the three best teams (CUBS, CLE), Boston did part ways with some real young talent in the Sale (15½ Regular Season Wins, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) trade, sending top prospects 2B Yoan Moncada and SP Michael Kopech and two others to the Pale Hose to get the southpaw who may win 20 or more games in Beantown on a better team. The Carmines also traded SP Clay Buchholz to the Phillies for 2B Josh Tobias, got RP Tyler Thornburg from the Brewers for in a deal for 3B Travis Shaw and claimed IF Josh Rutledge (Rockies) in the Rule 5 Draft.
Moo, Moo, Moo, Mookie and the Bents in LF and RF with Jackie Bradley, Jr in CF and Boston (10-12 in Grapefruit League) has one of the best outfields in MLB, hands down. Mookie Betts (.318/31/118) may already be a Top-10 player in MLB, but now with Ortiz gone Betts (25½ Regular Season HRs, SuperBook), Bradley (26 HRs, 87 RBI) and Rookie of the Year candidate Andrew Benintendi will get the limelight with Benintendi a possible breakout star with a swing Ted Williams would admire. Chris Young, Bryce Brentz and Brock Holt provide decent depth with solid bats.
The Red Sox (.282 Batting Average, #1 MLB) also boast a great infield, with Pablo Sandoval at 3B, Xander Bogaerts (173½ Regular Season Hits, SuperBook) at SS, team heartbeat and liekly new leader Dustin Pedroia at 2B with Moreland and Hanley Ramírez (23½ Regular Season HRs, SuperBook) at 1B and both able to DH with the versatile Brock Holt and Rutledge as backups. Ortiz may be gone, but this is still might be the best offensive team in baseball that gets to play 81 games in a very small ballpark.
Boston No. 1 starter Rick Porcello (13½ Regular Season Wins,SuperBook) had a wonderful 2016 in winning the Cy Young, going a stellar 22-4 with a 1.01 WHIP, and if he, Sale, David Price (15½ Regular Season Wins, SuperBook)) and 4-5 starters Steven Wright and Drew Pomeranz can have even halfway decent seasons, the Red Sox should win the AL East again. But with Price on the DL with a sore elbow, Farrell will likely plug able lefty Eduardo Rodríguez in as the No. 3 guy in his Opening Day Rotation. Craig Kimbrel is the Closer with Tyler Thornburg, Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, Robbie Ross Jr. and Fernando Abad other Relief Pitchers with Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart as Catchers.
Strong Bats & Arms A Nice Combination
The addition of Sale (17-10 for CWS) may outweigh the loss of Big Papi but third starter Price will have to not be a liability and improve on his Postseason funk, should the Red Sox (+225 to win AL, BetMania) get there. Much of that will depend on well the O’s, Jays and Yankees do, how Betts (185½ Regular Season Hits, SuperBook) builds on his breakout season, and Boston does head-to-head against its AL East foes -- with most already dismissing the Rays (28/1 to win AL, BetMania).
But this team is in a good spot with the only glaring obstacle being that one of the other three best teams in MLB -- the Indians (+275 to win AL, BetMania) --also call the Junior Circuit. With Pedroia, Betts, Bradley, Bogaerts, Benintendi, Ramírez, Sandoval, Moreland, Young and Holt, opposing pitchers are going to hate seeing Boston on the schedule by May and betting Red Sox 'Overs' may become a daily thing (77-78-7 O/U in 2016). Why the Win Total 'Over'? Because although the Bronx Bombers may improve, Baltimore and Toronto could swoon some.
BOSTON RED SOX PREDICTED RECORD: 96-66
MLB FUTURES BOOK PICK: Red Sox Wins Over 92½ -115 (BetMania)
MLB PROPS BET PICKS: Sale Regular Season Wins 'Over' 15½ -110, Porcello Regular Season Wins Over 13½Bet On MLB Futures At SBR's Top Sportsbooks