Following a late-summer surge, the Boston Red Sox finished second in the American League East in 2021. Boston got cold in the final month of the year but found their identity in the playoffs, cruising all the way to the American League Championship Series.
The Astros took down the Red Sox in six games, which was no surprise. Boston was not built to win the World Series last season, and they got every ounce of performance out of their talent.
The 2022 team is projected to finish fourth in the division behind the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Rays. All three of these teams have win totals of 90+, so this speaks to the strength of the American League East.
Boston’s win total is 85.5, which is a lot considering the teams in the American League East. The Red Sox won 92 games last season, and I think the roster is improved this season. However, the division is much stronger than last year, which is a concern for betting the over.
The Lineup and Defense
The best part of the Red Sox is the team’s offense this season. The firepower at the plate was the reason the team won 92 games and made a nice run in October. The notable losses in the lineup are Kyle Schwarber and Hunter Renfroe, which will be tough to replace.
The one good part about losing Renfroe is that center field now belongs to Jackie Bradley Jr. Bradley’s production at the plate is not the best, but his performance in center field at Fenway makes him irreplicable.
Renfroe’s bat added a lot of power, and he had a tremendous arm in right field, but he was by no means a cornerstone of Boston’s team. Schwarber’s power is noteworthy, and he came up big in high leverage situations, but the team still has J.D. Martinez in the DH spot.
They also added a power bat at second base with Trevor Story. Story was one of the best free agents on the market this season, and it was a major pickup for Boston. This moved Christian Arroyo to making an impact off the bench, where he can be much more significant.
Boston’s lineup is potent, and I really like to think they will be successful scoring runs. The team is led by Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and Martinez. Additionally, if Bobby Dalbec could roll his spring power into the summer, opposing pitching staffs will have a lot of trouble maneuvering this lineup.
The Pitching Staff
Boston’s pitching is a concern, but the staff is better than last season if Chris Sale can return to his dominant self. Sale was supposed to be the Opening Day starter for the Red Sox, but he will miss the beginning of the season with a rib injury.
This will give Nathan Eovaldi the start against the Yankees to begin the year. The success of this pitching staff is contingent on Sale staying healthy, and he has been lackluster with this since tearing his UCL in 2019.
Eovaldi and Nick Pivetta are solid pitchers, but they should not be headlining a pitching staff. Another fear I have is the pitcher that will close games for Boston. Alex Cora has stated he will use multiple people to earn saves if needed, but the projected closer is Matt Barnes.
Barnes showed his instability countless times in 2021. All the success he had in the beginning of the season faded in the dog days of summer.
If Boston gets hot at the right time in 2022, I can see them surpassing their wins total. They need to perform as they did last year in the middle of the summer to win 90 games. The Blue Jays are clearly the best team in the division, but the Red Sox can play with Toronto.
The same fact goes for New York and Tampa Bay. If the Red Sox beat up Baltimore, split against the division, and perform outside the AL East, they will go over 85.5 wins.