Boston Red Sox Last Season Performance
The Boston Red Sox rebounded from an underwhelming 2020 campaign in 2021. But the Red Sox and New York Yankees both finished behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East. Boston and New York finished with the same record of 92-70 and were forced to face off in the AL Wild Card Game.
The Red Sox overcame the Yankees at home in the game and advanced to face the No.1 seeded Tampa Bay Rays in the divisional round. But the Red Sox took care of business against the Rays and defeated them in four games.
Boston ultimately fell to the Houston Astros in the ALCS in six games, ending a rather impressive 2021 campaign.
Nonetheless, the Red Sox developed a winner coming off a disappointing 2020 season. The lineup especially began to take form.
Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts are established stars who continued to mash in 2021. Devers hit 38 home runs to go along with a .279/.352/.538 line and an .890 OPS. Bogaerts hit .295 with 23 home runs while playing a premium position at shortstop.
J.D. Martinez continued to hit as well, with 28 home runs and an .867 OPS. He has been a consistent force in this lineup for years now.
But newly acquired players such as Hunter Renfroe and Kike Hernandez also stepped up in major ways. Renfroe hit 31 homers while Kike clubbed 20. The young Alex Verdugo added an impressive .289/.351/.426 slash line.
The pitching was not quite as impressive, but there were still several standout performances.
Nathan Eovaldi made the all-star team and finished the year with a 3.75 ERA and 195 strikeouts. Prospect Tanner Houck also saw some major league action and posted a 3.52 ERA. The Red Sox bullpen performed well, which helped the starting rotation lock down wins.
Even with the ALCS loss, the Red Sox 2021 overall performance was undoubtedly impressive.
Boston Red Sox Off-Season Changes
The Red Sox parted ways with first base coach Tom Goodwin. Goodwin has worked as the Red Sox first base coach since Alex Cora was hired as the team’s manager in 2017.
Boston saw a number of players hit free agency, including Eduardo Rodriguez and Kyle Schwarber. Boston will be hard-pressed to replace the amount of depth they lost, so their moves in free agency will be critical to the team’s 2022 success.
The Red Sox have failed to make any major splashes on the free-agent up to this point in the offseason. However, they did sign James Paxton and Rich Hill to contracts and were able to sign players such as Michael Wacha and Christin Stewart to minor league deals.
Their most noteworthy transaction so far during the offseason came in a four-player trade that saw Jackie Bradley Jr. return to Boston while Hunter Renfroe was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Boston Red Sox Key Additions
James Paxton is a very intriguing addition to this pitching staff. When Eduardo Rodriguez entered free agency and left the team during the offseason, Boston’s starting rotation looked fairly thin. But Paxton is somebody who has shown signs of ace potential in the past, but injuries have slowed him down.
Paxton pitched all of one game last season and has not stayed healthy for a full season since he posted a 3.82 ERA in New York with the Yankees back in 2019. But at just 33 years of age, it is conceivable that he has something left in the tank and helps keep the Red Sox remain competitive at some point in 2022.
However, Paxton is not expected to return until midseason as he recovers from forearm surgery.
Rich Hill is the veteran who just won’t slow down. He is still performing admirably even at age 40.
The tall lefty has consistently posted ERA’s in the 3’s over the past few seasons and continues to find ways to get hitters out. He is an intelligent pitcher who locates in the strikeout and features a plus curveball that keeps batters off-balance.
The signing of Hill could prove to be one of the better under-the-radar moves during the offseason.
Jackie Bradley Jr. was a head-scratching acquisition. The glove-first outfielder labored mightily at the plate in Milwaukee during the 2021 campaign, as he hit just .163 over 134 games.
What makes the move even more challenging to figure out is that Boston traded a solid defender and quality power hitter in Hunter Renfroe to acquire him. The Red Sox were able to acquire a couple of other prospects in the deal, but this trade simply does not make a lot of sense.
Boston Red Sox Key Subtractions
Losing Hunter Renfroe will be a difficult pill to swallow for the Red Sox faithful. The outfielder is fresh off of a 31 home run season that also saw him drive in 96 runs while hitting .259/.315/.501. The slugger also features one of the better-throwing arms in the outfield.
The Red Sox have a capable offense, so losing him does not completely alter the lineup. But one would believe that the team would want to play to their strengths and create as deep of a lineup as possible. But that was not the case in this deal.
Another Red Sox slugger left the lineup as well. Kyle Schwarber is a free agent and is expected to generate plenty of interest at the conclusion of the MLB lockout.
He hit 32 home runs between Washington and Boston last year. But he increased his batting average from .253 in Washington to .291 with the Red Sox. Additionally, Schwarber is a guy who adds positional versatility given his ability to play the outfield and first base.
It should be noted that the Red Sox could still re-sign him.
Left-handed pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez also hit the open market and inked a contract in Detroit with the Tigers. Despite laboring through a difficult 2021 season, Rodriguez had previously pitched to the tune of a 3.81 ERA in 2019 and 3.82 ERA in 2018.
He will be missed in Boston.
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Boston Red Sox Head Coach Analysis
Head coach Alex Cora has posted winning seasons in each of his three years as the Red Sox manager, including the 2018 World Series victory. Cora led the Red Sox to a 92-70 record in 2021.
And he will remain in Boston through the 2024 campaign, at the very least.
Boston officially picked up his 2023 and 2024 options in November during the offseason. Although it may seem a bit premature to commit to Cora for the long term, his managing prowess has convinced the Red Sox that he is their guy for the foreseeable future.
He will look to improve upon his 284-202 (.584 winning percentage) regular-season record and 17-8 (.680 winning percentage) postseason record in 2022.
Boston Red Sox Injured Players at the Beginning of the Season
James Paxton is expected to be out until July of 2022 as he recovers from forearm surgery. He was able to suit up for just one game in 2021 before going down with the injury. The Red Sox certainly took a gamble by signing Paxton, but they are likely more interested in seeing what he can do in 2023.
But he could be a factor down the stretch in 2022 if his timetable holds strong. Adding an experienced arm such as Paxton in the midst of a pennant race could be a vital difference-maker.
Hirokazu Sawamura is probable for the start of the season with a hamstring ailment. The pitcher finished 2021 with a 5-1 record and a 3.06 ERA for the Red Sox. The injury was initially reported during the 2021 American League Championship Series.
But hamstring injuries tend to linger, so his status will be something to monitor during Spring Training.
Otherwise, the Red Sox roster is mainly healthy for the most part. They will hope that they can remain healthy through the 2022 campaign.
Boston Red Sox Prediction for 2022 Season
The Red Sox are in one of baseball’s toughest divisions.
The American League East features four legitimate contenders in the Yankees, Blue Jays, Rays, and Red Sox. And the Red Sox have plenty of questions when it comes to their pitching rotation.
The real question when it comes to Boston comes down to this: can the offense carry them to a division win?
The middle of the lineup stacks up with just about any other team in the league with Bogaerts, Devers, and Martinez. All three approach hitting in different manners, but each tends to be highly successful.
But it is the lineup depth that makes the Red Sox stand out.
Alex Verdugo is a fantastic hitter who possesses the ability to spray the ball all over the yard. Kike Hernandez tends to get his hits in bunches, but his hot streaks are something to behold, as we saw during the 2021 playoffs. Bobby Dalbec is a young masher who has some of the best pure power in the game.
Jarren Duran is a young and exciting outfielder with a solid hit tool.
The Boston Red Sox will hit the baseball and score enough runs to consistently provide themselves with opportunities to win games.
A full season of Chris Sale will obviously benefit the Sox starting rotation. Nathan Eovaldi should be in line for another successful year as well. But beyond those two, the team features rather unreliable options.
Tanner Houck could be a difference-maker, but he is young and inexperienced. Boston should be in the running to sign another starting pitcher or two once the lockout comes to an end because the odds of this pitching staff shutting down the hard-hitting teams of the AL East are very slim.
The Red Sox should be in the running for a Wild Card spot again. However, I believe the Toronto Blue Jays have done enough to surpass them if Boston cannot upgrade the starting rotation.
The Red Sox floor is fourth place in the Al East. But fret not Red Sox fans, as their ceiling is first place in the division reflected in their MLB Odds.
Boston Red Sox Final Thoughts
The American League East and the Wild Card race will be extremely entertaining to watch in 2022. The Red Sox will have their work cut out for them without question.
Their inner-division record will likely seal their fate. If they are able to take down their rivals more often than not, we could see Boston make a second consecutive postseason run.
But the Blue Jays have improved, and the Yankees still have a deep roster. Tampa Bay seems to keep finding ways to win even with their limited payroll.
The Red Sox will need to play at the very top of their game if they want to reach the playoffs in 2022. Check out their MLB Lines.