Boston Red Sox: Projections for the Starting Lineup in 2014
With a brand new World Series championship banner hanging on Yawkey Way, the Boston Red Sox have some pretty big shoes to fill as we move towards the 2014 MLB season.
This year, fans will be treated to an injection of youth with Xander Bogaerts likely taking over as the everyday shortstop and Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia took his talents to South Beach and veteran backstop A.J. Pierzynski has been brought in to fill the void.
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 2014.
The stats consist of basic offensive numbers: games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, stolen bases and batting lines.
Generally, to reach a conclusion on each stat, players were evaluated on their performances against every team the Red Sox will face in 2014. 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
139 G, 498 AB, 79 R, 129 H, 38 2B, 2 3B, 23 HR, 92 RBI, 1 SB and a .259/.360/.482/.842 batting line.
Any reservations fans had about Mike Napoli transitioning from a catcher to an everyday first baseman were quickly dispelled by Naps' solid defense and extremely hot start to the 2013 season.
He had four home runs and 27 RBI by the end of March.
As we head into the 2014 season, there is reason to believe his production will stay just about on par with what we witnessed in 2013. Napoli was a doubles monster last season, and while it may occur again, it might be tough to reproduce since the most doubles Nap ever had before last year was 25 in 2011.
135 G, 430 AB, 67 R, 110 H, 25 2B, 3 3B, 25 HR, 71 RBI, 1 SB and a .256/.353/.502/.855 batting line.
Dustin Pedroia, Second Base
160 G, 641 AB, 91 R, 193 H, 42 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 84 RBI, 17 SB and a .301/.372/.415/.787 batting line.
It is hard to believe that the lifeblood of the Boston Red Sox was able to put up such monster numbers in 2013 despite needing thumb surgery in November.
Pedey only missed two games all season, not once complaining of soreness in his thumb.
Despite his injury, he still almost had 200 hits. With the heart of a lion, and a winter to regale in another World Series victory, Pedroia will come back with more power than we’ve seen in a couple of seasons.
159 G, 632 AB, 101 R, 189 H, 44 2B, 3 3B, 17 HR, 74 RBI, 17 SB and a .299/.369/.459/.828 batting line.
Will Middlebrooks, Third Base
94 G, 348 AB, 41 R, 79 H, 18 2B, 0 3B, 17 HR, 49 RBI, 3 SB and a .227/.271/.425/.696 batting line.
Red Sox fans are still waiting for that big breakout year from Will Middlebrooks.
Many believed that 2013 would be that year, but after having an ice cold streak at the plate into June, he was sent down to Pawtucket to find his groove.
Middlebrooks came back with a vengeance in August before cooling off again in September and October, ultimately losing the starting third base job to youngster Xander Bogaerts in the World Series.
It will be interesting to see how he responds to the adversity.
140 G, 514 AB, 57 R, 127 H, 27 2B, 1 3B, 24 HR, 79 RBI, 7 SB and a .247/.306/.444/.750 batting line.
Xander Bogaerts, Shortstop
18 G, 44 AB, 7 R, 11 H, 2 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 SB and a .250/.320/.364/.684 batting line.
Here is where things get interesting.
With any player, let alone a rookie, predicting statistics is extremely difficult. In the case of Xander Bogaerts, that difficulty is magnified.
Bogaerts has been revered in the Red Sox organization for years. He is considered the future of the franchise and has been compared to a young Nomar Garciaparra. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill.
With the young shortstop's potential a constant point of discussion, it is hard not to buy in to the hype a little bit. Exercise your suspension of disbelief, but here are the projections for (potentially) the 2014 American League Rookie of the Year.
158 G, 620 AB, 110 R, 192 H, 38 2B, 7 3B, 24 HR, 100 RBI, 13 SB and a .310/.373/.510/.883 batting line.
Daniel Nava, Left Field
134 G, 458 AB, 77 R, 139 H, 29 2B, 0 3B, 12 HR, 66 RBI, 0 SB and a .303/.385/.445/.831 batting line.
Daniel Nava’s 2013 season was an excellent story. Nava fought to make it to the majors and had a fine breakout season.
He had the second-best batting average and third-best OPS on the World Series champs, which is no small accomplishment.
It may not be a repeat performance for Nava in 2014. He may still be very good, but it is hard to see him continuing on that same level of play. He should come back down to earth.
135 G, 423 AB, 63 R, 117 H, 27 2B, 1 3B, 9 HR, 63 RBI, 1 SB and a .277/.359/.409/.768 batting line.
Jackie Bradley Jr., Center Field
37 G, 95 AB, 18 R, 18 H, 5 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 2 SB and a .189/.280/.337/.617 batting line.
Another youngster making his full-season major league debut with the Red Sox this season, Jackie Bradley Jr. has his work cut out for him in replacing a beloved franchise player.
Bradley will be taking over for Jacoby Ellsbury in center field. Ellsbury was loved by fans and was the 2011 American League MVP runner-up.
While Bradley had a tremendous spring training in 2013, that performance did not translate when the games counted. While he will have a solid rookie year, Bradley will not be as prolific as his rookie counterpart on the team.
145 G, 567 AB, 89 R, 146 H, 22 2B, 5 3B, 9 HR, 47 RBI, 12 SB and a .257/.337/.362/.699 batting line.
Shane Victorino, Right Field
122 G, 477 AB, 72 R, 140 H, 26 2B, 2 3B, 15 HR, 61 RBI, 21 SB and a .294/.351/.451/.801 batting line.
The Flyin’ Hawaiian was a welcome addition to the Boston Red Sox in 2013.
Shane Victorino returned to form as a speedster that could offer excellent defense in the vast Fenway Park right field.
Red Sox fans are hopeful that Victorino is able to play in more games this season and bring back the same heroics and passion he displayed in 2013.
155 G, 587 AB, 94 R, 161 H, 28 2B, 6 3B, 17 HR, 72 RBI, 28 SB and a .274/.327/.429/.756 batting line.
A.J. Pierzynski, Catcher
134 G, 503 AB, 48 R, 137 H, 24 2B, 1 3B, 17 HR, 70 RBI, 1 SB and a .272/.297/.425/.722 batting line.
Catcher A.J. Pierzynski comes to Boston by way of Texas.
After a productive 2013 with the Rangers, Pierzynski will be tasked with replacing the rather productive Jarrod Saltalamacchia, whose 40 doubles led all American League catchers last season.
The 37-year-old doesn’t have to be the second coming of Carlton Fisk, he just needs to be on par with his career averages to help give the Red Sox offense some pop from behind the plate.
With a huge right field at Fenway, Pierzynsky should be able to increase his doubles total from 2013.
125 G, 442 AB, 51 R, 125 H, 32 2B, 1 3B, 12 HR, 53 RBI, 1 SB and a .283/0322/.441/.763 batting line.
David Ortiz, Designated Hitter
137 G, 518 AB, 84 R, 160 H, 38 2B, 2 3B, 30 HR, 103 RBI, 4 SB and a .309/.395/.564/.959 batting line.
What more can David Ortiz possibly do for the Boston Red Sox?
He is the only member of the team that has been there for all three World Series victories over the past 10 years. He is the face of the team and possibly even the face of Major League Baseball.
Seemingly, the man doesn’t age.
The 38-year-old had one of his best seasons last year, earning his ninth All-Star selection, sixth Silver Slugger award and finished 10th in the American League MVP voting. He had the third-highest slugging percentage and fourth-highest on-base plus slugging percentage in all of baseball last season.
While it is hard to imagine any type of decline, age has to catch up with Ortiz at some point, doesn’t it?
148 G, 545 AB, 92 R, 157 H, 40 2B, 2 3B, 33 HR, 109 RBI, 2 SB and a .288/.383/.550/.933 batting line.