Boston Red Sox: Predicting the End-of-the-Year Numbers for the Starting Lineup
I think it's finally time to put last season's meltdown behind us, and move on to the promising 2012 season. Though spring training may not be as promising as last year, a second Wild Card spot doesn't hurt the Red Sox chances of finally returning to the playoffs. After all, they are still an extremely talented team, and if they can get their acts together, a dangerous team entering the 2012 season.
With that being said, lets take a look at how I think each position player will fare in the 2012 campaign.
1. Jacoby Ellsbury
I always knew there was something special about the Red Sox center-fielder, and last season he finally showed it. Now, Ellsbury is quickly becoming one of the elite outfielders in the league, but he has the difficult task of repeating after a superb season last year. Anyone who's been watching Ellsbury over the last few years knows that 2011 was no fluke, Ellsbury is for real. His 33 home runs in 2011 may have been unexpected, but expect more of the same in 2012. Ellsbury will put together another fantastic year, and once again find himself in the heat of an MVP race.
47 Stolen Bases
2. Dustin Pedroia
Many people seem to forget that Dustin Pedroia is a fomer MVP and Rookie of the Year. You certainly wouldnt know from looking at him how talented the Red Sox second-basemen is, but all doubts are quickly erased once he steps onto the diamond. How many times has Robinson Cano won MVP? Pedroia had a down year last year, but still managed to hit a career high 21 home runs. Like Ellsbury, Pedroia is becoming a five-tool player, and he is still only 28 years old. Expect more success from "The Muddy Chicken" in 2011, as he continues to represent what Boston baseball is all about.
3. Carl Crawford
After last year, Carl Crawford needs to have a strong year with the Red Sox, the second year of his monster seven-year contract. If you ask me, Crawford will have that bounce back year, and return to the player he was for the majority of his career with Tampa Bay. If Crawford can remotely resemble the player he formally was, he will greatly help the Red Sox.
Working with Bobby Valentine should also help Crawford, as Bobby plans to hit Crawford No. 3, which should erase all the lineup insecurities that Francona bestowed upon Carl last year.
36 Stolen Bases
4. Adrian Gonzalez
What can you really say about A-Gon? If 2011 was any indication, Adrian Gonzalez may be the best first-basmen in the majors right now, and he will only get better in 2012. Hitting 27 home runs isn't bad, but expect more in Fenway from the guy whose been known as a power-hitter throughout his career, maybe in the neighborhood of 40 home runs. This, combined with the average and runs batted in that he produced last year, will lead to Gonzalez winning his first Most Valuable Player award, with teammate Ellsbury right behind.
5. David Ortiz
Remember when everyone thought this man's career was over? Seems like a distant thought now, because Ortiz seems far from done. I can safely say that David Ortiz is the best pure designated hitter in baseball right now, and belongs right where he is, in the middle of the Red Sox lineup. After making the All-Star team once again in 2011, Ortiz will find himself there again in 2012. Ortiz no longer needs to be the superstar of the Red Sox team like he once was, but he still provides excellent offense and production.
6. Kevin Youkilis
After a down year for Youk in 2011, a year where people began to wonder if was done, Youkilis will rebound with a solid 2012 season. Injuries plagued Kevin in 2011, and he was never really able to get on his feet (his ankle, I should say). Youkilis has long been a silent hero in Boston, and he will put together a very respectable 2012 season.
7. Cody Ross
It feels so great to be able to write about Cody Ross in a Red Sox article. After following the 2010 postseason hero for a couple of years in San Francisco, I certainly think he has what it takes to succeed in Boston. He is a great pull-hitter, and should have no problem hitting balls out of Fenway. He won't put together the best numbers on the team, but should be productive wearing a Red Sox uniform.
8. Jarrod Saltalamaccia
After eventually hitting pretty well for the Red Sox in 2011, Salty will be looking to improve his numbers in 2012. With Jarrod, what you see is basically what you get, he will never be a superstar. What he is though, is a guy who can hit for some power, and round out a lineup pretty well. His average will still be low in 2012, but his power numbers will standout next season.
9. Nick Punto
I was actually pleasantly surprised when I found out that the Red Sox had signed Nick Punto this offseason. Though I would have preferred Marco Scutaro at SS, Nick Punto is still a pretty good No. 9 hitter. His numbers will be nothing short of mediocre, but he doesn't need to perform like Adrian Gonzalez for his signing to be considered successful.