Last Season Performance
For the Boston Red Sox, the 2021 and 2022 seasons were opposites. In 2021, there were no expectations, and the team shocked everyone, winning 92 games and ending up two wins shy of a World Series appearance. That set them up for more expectations in 2022, which were not met when Boston missed the playoffs and finished fifth in the American League East.
Many of last season’s struggles were due to injuries, notably seven-time All-Star Chris Sale and high-priced free agent Trevor Story. It was also not helped by an 11-20 start to the season.
Eventually, the Red Sox did get back on track, heading into July 43-33, but that was the last high moment of the season. The injuries kept mounting, and the team kept sliding down the standings, finishing with a 78-84 record.
Heading into the offseason, Boston had a lot of holes to fill, and they did whatever they could. The most significant move was signing outfielder Masataka Yoshida from the Japanese Professional baseball leagues. His bat could be a staple in the Red Sox’s lineup, signing a massive five-year $90 million contract. Justin Turner and Adam Duvall were also brought in to solidify the team’s batting order.
Pitching was one of the most significant issues for the Red Sox last season, along with losing a lot of talent in free agency. Former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber was signed on a one-year deal despite being past his prime. Boston also signed Kenley Jansen, a big-name reliever, on a two-year contract to be the closer immediately.
The Red Sox needed to add so many players because many left in free agency. Three names from last season’s starting rotation are no longer on the roster. The biggest one is Nathan Eovaldi, who did have a down season compared to 2021. Michael Wacha and Rich Hill are also not returning after starting a combined 49 games.
On top of that, two key members of the recent 2018 Red Sox World Series left the team. Xander Bogaerts signed a massive 11-year $280 million contract with the San Diego Padres, and JD Martinez will play for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Manager: Alex Cora
Last season was the first time Alex Cora managed a Red Sox team that did not have a winning record. He spent two seasons with the club before being suspended in 2020 due to his connection with the Houston Astros stealing scandal. Cora returned to manage the Red Sox in 2021, making it to the ALCS.
Last season’s failures can not be solely blamed on him, with health playing a significant role. However, failing in Boston sports is not taken lightly, so this season, there will need to be an improvement. If not, his World Series win in 2018 won’t help him stay off the hot seat.
Strengths: Top of the Lineup
It’s hard to deny the star power that the Red Sox have. That all starts with Rafael Devers, who undeniably has been one of the best players in MLB recently. He led the team in HRs and RBIs last season. His stats did dip compared to his Silver Slugger season in 2021, but he earned a massive contract and is the face of the franchise.
Alex Verdugo has also been a solid bat in his time with Boston. While his power was not the best last season, he still had a batting average of .280 and the second-most RBIs on the team.
Now the star power did take a hit in free agency, but the signings of Yoshida, Turner, and Duvall could be interesting. Yoshida was known for his bat-to-ball skills in Japan. Turner and Duvall have both shown they can be solid MLB hitters but are coming off down seasons.
Weaknesses: Starting Pitching
Whenever a part of a team goes through the changes that the Red Sox starting rotation just had, there are bound to be some issues. Boston’s starting rotation lost three starters from last season, combining for 361 innings. Outside of Wacha, who was the only one with less than a 3.50 ERA, none of them did a great job.
The issue is that no one other than Kluber was brought in as a replacement. Kluber pitched 164 innings last season but also had an ERA of 4.34 and is 37 years old. A lot of hope is in another former elite pitcher, Sale, staying healthy. He has pitched in 11 games over the last two seasons.
Out of the whole rotation, Nick Pivetta is the only starter from last season that had any success and stayed in Boston.
Predictions for the 2023 Season
This offseason created more questions for the Red Sox than answers. After a season in which they struggled, they lost more players than they added, and the replacements are unproven or nearing the end of their careers.
Boston is in a difficult position, with injuries from last season, such as Story, likely affecting 2023. It will be hard for the Red Sox to do any better this season, which could lead to more problems.
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