Boston Red Sox: 1 Prediction for Every Player on Team's 25-Man Roster in 2013
The Boston Red Sox’s 2013 season is finally underway. After losing 93 games last year, the team and its fans are happy to try to erase those memories with a reinvigorated roster and a new chance to contend.
There is a lot to look forward to with this year’s team. The many new players and returning veterans trying to redeem last season’s debacle make for an interesting mix.
Starting with the pitchers and then moving to the hitters, click through to see one prediction for every player on Boston’s 25-man roster in 2013.
Joel Hanrahan, Reliever: 2013 Will Be His Only Season in Boston
The 31-year-old right-hander will make $7.04 million this year before becoming a free agent following the season.
No matter how well he pitches in 2013, the Red Sox will likely look for a cheaper and younger option once he hits the market.
Junichi Tazawa, Reliever: Will Set Himself Up to Be the Team’s Closer in 2014
Tazawa showed what he could do last year bouncing between Boston and Triple-A. He posted a 1.43 ERA and 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings in 37 games over several stints.
Now a full-fledged member of the bullpen to start 2013, he will continue to pitch well and be the top candidate to replace Joel Hanrahan, who will likely be allowed to leave via free agency after the season.
Alfredo Aceves, Reliever: Will Be the Most Valuable Member of Boston’s Bullpen
The right-handed Aceves is currently in the doghouse because of last year’s 5.36 ERA while filling in at closer, and issues caused by his temperamental personality.
Being used primarily as the long man out of the bullpen and occasional spot starter this season, he will be a lot closer to his 10-2 record and 2.61 ERA with Boston in 2011. This should make him the team’s most valuable reliever in 2013.
Ryan Dempster, Starting Pitcher: Will Finish with an ERA of Around 4.50
The 35-year-old right-hander won’t be a star, but will keep the Sox in most games, and with an ERA around 4.50, will pitch a little better than some have speculated.
Clay Buchholz, Starting Pitcher: Will Log 200 Innings for First Time in Career
Although he has never thrown more than 189.1 innings in a single season (2012), the 28-year-old Buchholz will build off last year and reach 200 frames in 2013.
Koji Uehara, Reliever: Will Spend Time on the Disabled List
The Japanese-born right-hander has been extremely effective in his four-year major league career, posting a 2.89 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in 157 games.
Despite the excellent results, Uehara is 38 and has missed extensive time because of injury in each season except 2011. Unfortunately, these signs point to him seeing the disabled list yet again this year.
Andrew Bailey, Reliever: Will Be Traded Before the End of the Season
Bailey lost Boston’s closer role after missing most of last season with injury and then producing only a 7.04 ERA and six saves in the 19 games in which he did appear.
With Joel Hanrahan now pitching the ninth inning for Boston, and other teams looking for closer help, Bailey will become a valuable trade chip that will be cashed in by the Red Sox.
Felix Doubront, Starting Pitcher: Will Strike Out Over 200 Batters
The southpaw struck out 167 batters in 161 innings last season, which was his first full year in Boston’s starting rotation.
Although he still has work to do, his innings will be increased in 2013. With an increased workload and his continued development, he should surpass 200 strikeouts on the year.
Clayton Mortensen, Reliever: Will Not Be on the Roster by the End of the Season
The right-hander was one of the final players added to the Opening Day 25-man roster.
Although he pitched well in his first season in Boston last year, he lacks the upside of veterans Craig Breslow and Franklin Morales, who started the year on the disabled list, and Daniel Bard who was sent to the minors. Mortensen will likely be the first to go if and when any of those pitchers are ready.
John Lackey, Starting Pitcher: Will Have Double-Digit Wins
Andrew Miller, Reliever: Will Be Among the Best Lefty Specialists in the AL
After failing to develop into a dependable starter, Miller has steadily become a dominant reliever under the watchful eye of Boston coaches.
The 6’7” southpaw averaged 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings in 2012, his first full year in Boston’s bullpen. His continued development and mid-90s fastball will help him become one of the best left-handed specialist in the American League.
Jon Lester, Starting Pitcher: Will Win At Least 15 Games
The southpaw’s assumed demise following a 9-14 record and 4.82 ERA in 2012 will turn out to be greatly exaggerated.
A strong spring training and a resurgence of his dangerous cut-fastball will catapult him back into the picture as one of the most consistent pitchers in the American League. As a result, he will win at least 15 games, a feat he accomplished for four consecutive seasons before last year.
David Ross, Catcher: Will Start At Least 81 Games at Catcher
Ross has only caught more than 81 games in a season once (108 games in 2007 with the Cincinnati Reds) during his career, but will finally do that again this year.
He will get the majority of the starts behind the plate because the Red Sox will value his defense (career 39 percent caught stealing), which is far superior to that of Jarrod Saltalamacchia (career 23 percent caught stealing).
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Catcher: Will Hit Less Than 20 Home Runs
The switch-hitting catcher may have hit 25 home runs last year but he won’t come close to matching the feat this season.
Saltalamacchia struggled down the stretch, hitting just .200 with eight home runs and 67 strikeouts in 175 at-bats in the second half of last season. He’s simply not a good hitter and will see his power numbers take a dip in 2013.
Mike Carp, First Baseman/Outfielder: Will Be Cut by the All-Star Break
He won’t be long for Boston because he’s not a good hitter. Other than a two month stretch in July-August, 2011, when he hit .323 with eight home runs and 34 RBI in 38 games, he has hit just .228 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in his other 135 major league games.
Will Middlebrooks, Third Baseman: Will Hit At Least 25 Home Runs
Middlebrooks was having an excellent rookie season (15 home runs in 75 games) last year when it ended prematurely because of a broken wrist.
He is healthy once again and will play a more prominent role in Boston’s offense. Having hit nine home runs in 43 games at Fenway Park last year, playing half his games there in 2013 should help lead to at least 25 round-trippers.
Jackie Bradley Jr., Outfielder: Is in the Majors to Stay
Originally expecting to start the season in the minors, Bradley not only made the team out of spring training, but drew three walks and made a highlight-worthy catch against the New York Yankees in his major league debut.
His ability to get on base, play stellar defense and a maturity beyond his 22 years are all signs he will stay with the Red Sox all year and be a big contributor for the team.
Jonny Gomes, Outfielder: Will Play Most of His Games as a DH and Pinch Hitter
Gomes was signed by Boston this past offseason to a two-year, $10 million free agent contract to be the team’s primary left fielder. A shift of circumstances since then will change his role and lead to him getting most of his at-bats as a designated hitter and pinch hitter.
He is not only an atrocious fielder (negative 10.2 career dWar), but rookie outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who was a surprise addition to the team out of spring training, is superb with the glove.
Gomes’s value will primarily be in spelling regular DH David Ortiz, who is 37 and trying to return from the disabled list, and providing some pop off the bench.
Pedro Ciriaco, Infielder: Won’t Hit .293 Again
The reserve infielder was a major surprise by hitting .293 in 76 games for the Red Sox last year. Unfortunately, he won’t approach that mark in 2013.
He hit a blistering .360 over his first 42 games. However, his .220 batting average in his final 35 games is closer to the kind of production the team should expect in this season.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Outfielder: Will Play Well, But Won’t Be with Boston in 2014
Starting this season healthy, he is primed for a big year before hitting free agency next offseason. No matter how well he plays in 2013, his desire to test the market and the emergence of Jackie Bradley Jr. will solidify his exit from Boston.
Daniel Nava, Outfielder/First Baseman: Will Struggle to Find Playing Time
The 30-year-old Nava made a major league roster out of spring training for the first time in his career this season.
Although he has added playing first base to his repertoire, the Red Sox have better offensive and defensive options ahead of him, which will restrict his playing time.
Mike Napoli, First Baseman: Will Set a Career High for Games Played in a Season
Napoli has never been an iron man, only playing in more than 114 games once in his seven-year major league career.
Despite a diagnosis during the offseason for a degenerative hip condition, he will excel in Boston now that he is playing first base full-time instead of the more physically demanding catching position.
His powerful right-handed bat will be an important part of the Red Sox’s lineup, and he will exceed his career-high of 140 games which he played for the 2011 Texas Rangers.
Jose Iglesias, Shortstop: Won’t Hit Enough to Stick in the Majors
Despite picking up three hits on Opening Day against the New York Yankees, Iglesias won’t hit enough to keep a major league job once Stephen Drew returns from his concussion.
The Cuban shortstop’s slick glove won’t not been able to overshadow his lack of offense. Once Drew is ready, Iglesias will be shipped back to the minors to play regularly and see if he can halt his slipping prospect stock.
Shane Victorino, Outfielder: Will Steal At Least 35 Bases
The switch-hitting Victorino may have seen his batting average dip to a career-worst .255 last season, but by stealing 39 bases in 45 attempts, he showed he can still run.
He has averaged 32 stolen bases per season in his six years as a major league regular. With Boston manager John Farrell committed to a running game, Victorino should easily swipe at least 35 bags in 2013.
Dustin Pedroia, Second Baseman: 2013 Will Be Business as Usual
Pedroia has been a model of consistency since first becoming a full-time player for the Red Sox in 2007, never hitting below .288 or posted an OPS under .797.
It should be business as usual for him in 2013. Expect him be close to his career 162-game averages of .303 with 17 home runs, 77 RBI and 19 stolen bases.
Statistics via Baseball-Reference