Can the Red Sox Keep Up?

Season In Review: Red Sox

Intro:

The Red Sox are just a few years removed from their last World Series in 2018. This past season did not go nearly the same way, while they had an 84-78 record, it was a disappointment. This was the first season that they did not win the AL East since 2015. The real question should be “What are the Red Sox going to do about this and why did it happen?” One reason this might of happened is due to the bullpen arms that were not retained in 2019 such as Joe Kelly, Craig Kimbrel, and Drew Pomeranz. You could also factor in the division that they played in as a major reason why they did not see the same level of success. With the Yankees and Rays both being extremely competitive teams in their own rights. Below is a review of the 2019 season for the Red Sox.

Recap of Red Sox 2019 season

The Red Sox were not slouch at the plate this past season with 3rd best batting average as a team in the American League. That did little to help them get to the playoffs though. As their pitching was well below average. they were plagued with some injuries and did not get the results they wanted out of Chris Sale or David Price. Their bullpen was also suspect at best during certain points of the year with Brandon Workman being the only reliever under a 3.5 ERA. Which makes the issue of letting Kimbrel and Kelly go look worse in the long run. While, it may have been a negative year for most Red Sox fans, there were still plenty of bright points to be excited about for this upcoming season.

Bright Points:

Following the season that fell short of a playoff run, it is important to discuss a couple of the bright points that the Red Sox had. These bright points were Mookie Betts, Eduardo Rodriguez, Rafael Devers, and Xander Bogaerts.

Mookie Betts:

Mookie has been one of the best players in the MLB for the past 5-6 seasons. His stats will back that claim up too. For a guy that can literally do it all in the field, he deserves the claim to be in the top five of players in the league. In his already short career, he has been MVP, 4 time All Star, 4 time Gold Glover, 3 time Silver Slugger, and a World Series Champion. This seems like the type of guy who might be enshrined in the Hall of Fame barring scandals, injuries, or other unpredictable events. The scary part is that he is only 27 with a potential for 10 more years of MLB action. This past season he carried a split of .295/.391/.524 which is nowhere near his 2018 split of .346/.438/.640. With the regression from his MVP season, it could be easy to be disappointed by his numbers. However, he still carried a WAR of 6.8 during this past season. Another thing to love about Mookie is his ability to obtain walks. Last season he saw 97 walks which is close to the top in league. He also did not struck out much more than he walked, he struck out 101 times during the course of the season. With Mookie there is so much talent that is worth being desire, it makes sense why any team with a brain in their head would want him. He may be the only player that is worthy of sitting next to Mike Trout at the dinner table of who is the best current player in baseball. If you would like to read more about him check out this post on Dingerball below this section or if you are the kind of person that likes seeing visual proof check out this YouTube video.

https://dingerball.com/2020/01/06/the-correct-way-to-rank-the-top-players-of-the-decade/

Mookie 2019 Highlights

Rafael Devers:

The next bright point for the Red Sox would be a young left handed batter from the Dominican Republic. In the third season of his career, he gave us a glimpse of what his future could be. He emerged and was the breakout star for Boston, powered behind a career high 132 wRC+. His real success may have came from his ability to stay away from the strikeout. He reduced his total strikeout percentage by a total of 7.7%. This is impressive considering his O-Swing% was 40.6% which means that he is not the most disciplined hitter when it comes to swinging at pitches that are not strikes. He even boasted a swinging strike rate of 12% this season which is the best of his career but still leaves something to be desired. What is important to remember about Devers is that he is still a young player. It is likely that we have not seen the best out of him yet. I would expect as long as he stays committed to his vision and goals that he will become a MVP candidate for years to come but will likely come short because of the current face of the MLB. The largest area that you would love to see this guy improve is in the field. It is possible that he could get better but a career that yields a negative 20 DRS is not so hopeful. He could pull the David Ortiz route, which I am sure that many of the Boston faithful would enjoy. With a hard hit percentage in the top ten, what is there not to love? Just check out this casual 6-6 game that he had against the Cleveland Indians.

Reasons for Concern:

If you are a Red Sox fan, there is going to be some potential problems that you will see over the course of the next season. The largest of those issues is the division that you will be playing in. The Yankees are going to have a team that will compete with only themselves for the next 3-5 years, Tampa Bay has some promise after an ALDS run in the past year, Toronto has a three-headed dragon that looks like it could be a dark horse, and the Orioles, just kidding they are in purgatory until Chris Davis retires or returns to old form. This is the moment when the general manager will need to make a decision on the route that will be taken. Personally, if I was GM, I would offload some of the heavy contracts on the team such as David Price to ensure that Mookie stays a Red Sox. You don’t let a player like him walk unless you get a deal that you would be stupid to say no to or you’re desperate. On top of that, you have a pitching staff that has not been the best especially after some of your key arms left in 2018. With an infusion of a few bullpen arms, and maybe a young prospect or two we could see the Sox contend again.

Future: 

The future for Boston surely lays within the hands of a few key players. Those players are Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, and some of their top prospects. Below is a list of some of their top prospects.

Top Prospects

Triston Casas is the man that tops this list for a reason. It is mostly due to his power that we saw in single-A this past season. While he still has a long road to go before he is in the MLB. He could have the talent to be a star. The major concern that we have about Triston is that he is prone to strikeout around 25% in the MILB ABs that we have seen so far. He will be a guy that we will need to keep an eye on for the future.

https://www.mlb.com/news/mlb-draft-profile-on-prospect-triston-casas-c278192768

Bobby Dalbec is another promising prospect for the Red Sox that we will more than likely get to see sooner than Triston. Bobby is a 6’4″, 225 pound third basemen in AAA. He comes in at 24 years of age and could compete for some playing time with Rafael in the future. The major aspect of his game that sticks out is his raw power which is graded 70 on Fangraphs. He grades out nicely as a potential piece to the Red Sox that can add some pop from the right side. Last year combined between AA and AAA he hit a total of 27 homers in around 560 Plate Appearances. He was more patient in AA with a walk percentage of 15.5% compared to his 4.1% in 40 games for AAA. What will be interesting about him is waiting to see what he can do in this upcoming season. His approach seems like it can play at the next level and we shall see, here is a video to see what he can be capable of.

Bobby Dalbec

These youngsters could be part of the next Red Sox championship run, however, that may be a few years in the making. My overall opinion is that the Red Sox may struggle for this upcoming season, but that is not a cause to be worried about. The Yankees look to be stout and the Red Sox can either hope for a better performance from their starting pitching and bullpen or can retool. If by Mid-season and the hopes look bleak, this is when I expect a trade for the Sox. Until then, unless something blows them out of the water, they will stand pat and ride it out.

Bold Predictions

#1: Devers continues to get better and races into the top five for MVP.

#2: Bobby Dalbec gets called up and makes a run at Rookie of the Year.

#3: David Price could get traded by mid-season for a haul similar to Greinke.

Once again, make sure you check out our podcast that discusses all things baseball and is a great place to start a conversation with the Dingerball family.

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