Boston Red Sox: Projections for the Starting Lineup in 2013
The Boston Red Sox have undergone substantial changes in the offseason. With such an influx of new talent, predicting how well the starting nine will do in 2013 is somewhat daunting.
This year, fans can expect a healthy David Ortiz, Will Middlebrooks and Jacoby Ellsbury. They will also welcome newcomers like Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew to the everyday lineup.
Suffice to say, things are looking different in Boston these days.
With so many happenings in the Hub, trying to pin down exactly how each player will perform in 2013 is extremely difficult.
To get the closest and most accurate projections possible, the following statistics were compiled and compared, ultimately creating an equation to help determine how each player will perform in 2013.
The stats looked at are basic offensive numbers: games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, stolen bases and batting average.
To reach a conclusion on each stat, players were evaluated on performance against every team the Red Sox will face in 2013. Those figures were compared to players' career numbers, as well as other variables, such as home-versus-away numbers.
These are the results.
Mike Napoli, First Base
108 games, 352 at-bats, 53 runs, 80 hits, nine doubles, two triples, 24 home runs, 56 RBI, one stolen base and a .227/.343/.469/.812 batting line
150 games, 468 at-bats, 76 runs, 120 hits, 23 doubles, one triple, 29 home runs, 77 RBI, one stolen base and a .256/.356/..475/.832 batting line
The hardest thing to do with Mike Napoli is to figure out how many games he will play in 2013. Considering his high for games played in a season is 140, which came in 2010 with the Los Angeles Angels, 150 appear steep.
However, Napoli likely won't start 150 games. Instead, he may come off the bench at first or play catcher. Additionally, he could very well be replaced late in games for defensive reasons.
With those factors, suddenly 150 games appears much more reasonable.
Fans will notice an uptick in his offensive numbers—specifically, doubles. Fenway will be kind to him. He will provide solid offensive numbers with his 53 extra-base hits.
Dustin Pedroia, Second Base
141 games, 563 at-bats, 81 runs, 163 hits, 39 doubles, three triples, 15 home runs, 65 RBI, 20 stolen bases and a .290/.347/.449/.797 batting line
156 games, 572 at-bats, 94 runs, 173 hits, 41 doubles, three triples, 15 home runs, 70 RBI, 17 stolen bases and a .302/.385/.504/.905 batting line
Expect to see a huge season out of Dustin Pedroia. He was part of this Red Sox team during the glory days of 2007 and has seen them fall very far from that point.
This is his team now, and one can expect him to lead it by example.
Pedey looks to rebound and have a healthy season while boosting his batting average and slugging percentage considerably. Here’s a bold prediction: It won’t be the least bit surprising to see him finish in the top five for American League MVP.
Will Middlebrooks, Third Base
75 games, 267 at-bats, 34 runs, 77 hits, 14 doubles, zero triples, 15 home runs, 54 RBI, four stolen bases and a .288/.325/.509/.835 batting line
150 games, 544 at-bats, 65 runs, 155 hits, 28 doubles, two triples, 30 home runs, 107 RBI, 14 stolen bases and a .285/.337/.542/.879 batting line
If Red Sox fans learned anything about Will Middlebrooks in 2012, it is that he can certainly put up solid numbers. This is why the 2013 projections are not much of a stretch.
This sage believes Middlebrooks could well emerge as a leader on the Red Sox in 2013.
The biggest complaint fans might have is his home run total. He could find his power in his second go-round in the big leagues. He’s already displayed the ability to slug the ball in the minors and in his short stint in the majors.
While he won’t be eligible for Rookie of the Year in 2013, Middlebrooks will be a lot of fun to watch.
Stephen Drew, Shortstop
79 games, 287 at-bats, 38 runs, 64 hits, 13 doubles, one triple, seven home runs, 28 RBI, one stolen base and a .223/.309/.348/.657 batting line
132 games, 465 at-bats, 62 runs, 122 hits, 28 doubles, three triples, 11 home runs, 48 RBI, four stolen bases and a .262/.301/.382/.684 batting line
Stephen Drew will float by in Boston. He will neither electrify the crowd nor cost the team any wins.
Essentially, he’ll be keeping the seat warm for top prospect Xander Bogaerts, who may supplant Drew late in the year as the starter.
Jonny Gomes, Left Field
99 games, 279 at-bats, 46 runs, 73 hits, 10 doubles, zero triples, 18 home runs, 47 RBI, three stolen bases and a .262/.377/.491/.868 batting line
105 games, 318 at-bats, 47 runs, 78 hits, 14 doubles, two triples, 17 home runs, 50 RBI, six stolen bases and a .245/.337/.480/.817 batting line
Jonny Gomes will step in to play left field at Fenway first this season. It likely won't be his full-season gig, as Ryan Kalish will probably see significant playing time once he returns from offseason surgery.
In addition, Gomes has played more than 110 games only three times in 10 seasons.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Center Field
74 games, 303 at-bats, 43 runs, 82 hits, 18 doubles, zero triples, four home runs, 26 RBI, 14 stolen bases and a .271/.313/.370/.682 batting line
158 games, 555 at-bats, 92 runs, 165 hits, 30 doubles, five triples, 14 home runs, 62 RBI, 44 stolen bases and a .297/.351/.419/.770 batting line
Don’t get me wrong; it would be outstanding to see Ellsbury return to 2011 form. However, from what fans saw at the end of 2012, it may not happen.
2011 may have been an aberration.
With that in mind, the projected stats for Ellsbury are still quite respectable. He’ll hit for average and advance himself on the basepaths, as usual. However, the home runs totals and overall slugging just may not be there.
Shane Victorino, Right Field
154 games, 595 at-bats, 72 runs, 152 hits, 29 doubles, seven triples, 11 home runs, 55 RBI, 39 stolen bases and a .255/.321/.383/.704 batting line
146 games, 498 at-bats, 79 runs, 137 hits, 25 doubles, nine triples, 12 home runs, 52 RBI, 27 stolen bases and a .275/.360/.443/.802 batting line
Most projections show Shane Victorino continuing his decline in production upon arriving in Fenway.
That’s not how this columnist sees it.
Victorino has the chance to come into Boston on a lineup packed with solid ballplayers and be productive. His average will jump slightly while maintaining solid numbers on the base paths.
Additionally, fans will find his good nature quite endearing.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Catcher
121 games, 405 at-bats, 55 runs, 90 hits, 17 doubles, one triple, 25 home runs, 59 RBI, zero stolen bases and a .222/.288/.454/.742 batting line
130 games, 430 at-bats, 57 runs, 103 hits, 22 doubles, one triple, 17 home runs, 58 RBI, zero stolen bases and a .239/.296/.418/.723 batting line
Jarrod Saltalamacchia will once again take the reigns behind the plate for the Red Sox. Fans can expect pretty much more of the same production out of the 27-year-old catcher.
While his home run totals will drop, he will still put up sufficient doubles while driving in 58 RBI out of the eighth or ninth spot in the batting order.
David Ortiz, Designated Hitter
90 games, 324 at-bats, 65 runs, 103 hits, 26 doubles, zero triples, 23 home runs, 60 RBI, zero stolen bases and a .318/.415/.611/1.026 batting line
143 games, 514 at-bats, 88 runs, 146 hits, 38 doubles, one triple, 31 home runs, 104 RBI, one stolen base and a .284/.369/.529/.902 batting line
David Ortiz will once again be batting out of the number three slot for the Boston Red Sox in 2013. He’s going to continue doing what he does best: slug the ball.
While he may not hit 40 home runs any longer, he is still more than capable of driving in 100 runs while sending 30 balls over the monster.
Christopher Benvie is a MLB Featured Columnist for the Bleacher Report as well as a contributing writer for WEEI.com in Boston, Massachusetts. If you want to talk baseball follow him on Twitter here: