Tuesday, February 11, 2014

2014 Red Sox Lineup Projections

Here's what I'm expecting in terms of fantasy production from the Red Sox starting lineup this year, assuming Stephen Drew doesn't make a last-second return.

C A.J. Pierzynski
His fluke 2012 notwithstanding, Pierzynski is as steady as they come. He'll be hard-pressed to reproduce what Jarrod Saltalamacchia did last year, but he's a capable fill-in who should still be able to hit a little bit.

44 runs, 10 home runs, 63 RBI, 0 steals, .268 batting average

1B Mike Napoli
Nap was exactly what we thought he'd be: a streak slugger who can carry the team for stretches but disappear during others. He struck out a ton though--187 times in less than 500 official at-bats--which doesn't bode well for a 32 year-old with hip problems. We've seen how similar sluggers like Mark Reynolds, Adam Dunn, Dan Uggla and Jack Cust have fallen apart in recent years, but I think (hope) Napoli's bat still has at least one more good season in it.

74 runs, 21 home runs, 87 RBI, 2 steals, .248 batting average

2B Dustin Pedroia
After a injury-hampered 2012, Pedroia was back to his old self in 2013, batting over .300 and spraying lasers all over the park. His power did drop off a bit--his nine home runs were his fewest since his rookie season and a far cry from the 21 he popped in 2011--but that can be easily explained by his dramatic drop in fly ball rate. It's too early to tell if that was just a statistical blip or the beginning of a trend, but given his age (30) I'm inclined to think it's the latter. He still does everything else well, though.

103 runs, 12 home runs, 70 RBI, 18 steals, .304 batting average

3B Will Middlebrooks
Middlebrooks was terrible in the first half last year, playing his way out of the third base job he stole from Kevin Youkilis the year before. Light-hitting Jose Iglesias took over for him when he was demoted to Pawtucket in late June, but a spot opened up when Iglesias was shipped out in the trade that made Jake Peavy a Red Sock. The time in Triple-A seemed to do Middlebrooks some good, as he batted .276/.329/.476 after returning to the big club in August. I think his numbers will be much closer to (and maybe better than) that than the .192/.228/.389 figures he was sporting prior to his demotion.

66 runs, 25 home runs, 78 RBI, 7 steals, .260 batting average

SS Xander Bogaerts
John Farrell says Bogaerts is the team's starting shortstop at this moment, so it looks like the 21 year-old phenom is going to get every opportunity to prove himself at the big league level in 2014. He looked like a player wise beyond his years during the playoffs and should be ready to hit the ground running in his first full season.

83 runs, 16 home runs, 64 RBI, .281 atting average, 16 steals

LF Jonny Gomes
Gomes is easy to project because he puts up the same numbers year after year: 15 or so home runs, 50 RBI and a batting average in the .250 neighborhood. No reason to expect anything different from the quirky slugger.

44 runs, 14 home runs, 48 RBI, .252 batting average, 2 steals

LF Daniel Nava
There's no way Nava hits as well as he did last year, when he had the league's eighth highest batting average (.303) and fifth best on-base percentage (.385), both of which were fueled largely by his .352 BABiP. The tricky part, then, is predicting how far he's going to fall. He was a .243/.352/.379 career hitter before last year, so I think it makes sense to expect he'll fall somewhere in the middle this year.

62 runs, 8 home runs, 55 RBI, 1 steal, .276 batting average

CF Jackie Bradley Jr.
Bradley disappointed after a blazing Spring Training, looking overmatched and batting just .189/.280/.337 once meaningful games got underway. With Jacoby Ellsbury gone, he should have no problem winning the starting center field job from Grady Sizemore, who hasn't played since 2011. I think I'm higher on Bradley than most, probably because he's going to be 24 in April (near his prime) and because I don't want to put too much stock in last season's 100-odd plate appearances. Plus it's encouraging that he hit well in Triple-A and was better when Boston recalled him in September.

78 runs, 13 home runs, 53 RBI, 17 steals, .264 batting average

RF Shane Victorino
Victorino bounced back from the worst season of his career with one of his best in 2013. It's unlikely he'll repeat that success at age 33, but we shouldn't expect him to crash back to his 2012 depths either. I see him playing well, just not as well as he did last year.

88 runs, 13 home runs, 63 RBI, 24 steals, .277 batting average

DH David Ortiz
Big Papi continued to defy age in 2013, posting his best full season OPS since 2007 and anchoring the Red Sox lineup with 30 home runs and 103 RBI. He's showed no signs of slowing down as he gets deeper into his 30s, batting a sublime .311/.401/.571 over the last three years. He can't keep hitting that way forever, of course, but I don't believe he'll fall off the cliff in 2014, especially since he's playing for another contract.

82 runs, 26 home runs, 94 RBI, 1 steal, .295 batting average

Pitching Projections to come!

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