Red Sox Preview: Position Players
As the Major League Baseball season gets underway today, let’s take a look at the Boston Red Sox’ Opening Day Roster. We’ve looked at the rotation. We've broke down the bullpen. Now, let's finish it off with the position players on the roster.
- Blake Swihart
- Ryan Hanigan
Swihart was fluxed into duty last year, maybe a bit earlier than the team wanted to push him thanks to a lack of quality options at the major league level and injuries. Though it might have been an unexpected promotion, Swihart preformed solidly at the plate, slashing .275/.319/.392 in 288 at-bats. Defensively, Swihart needs some work as he let up 16 passed balls and was below league average throwing out base runners at 28%. Hanigan will serve as Swihart's backup to start the season. In 54 games with the club last year, the veteran .247/.337/.328. His top contributions came behind the plate, however, where he posted a .993 fielding percentage and threw out 33 percent of potential base stealers. There is also a chance that Christian Vazquez, who will start the season on the DL as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery, could help the team out later this year. Vazquez teamed up with Swihart would give the Sox two young up-and-coming backstops.
- Hanley Ramirez 1B
- Dustin Pedroia 2B
- Xander Bogaerts SS
- Travis Shaw 3B
- Pablo Sandoval 3B
Bogaerts is currently the best infielder on this club. In 156 games last season, he hit .320 and belted 32 doubles, while driving in 81 runs and scoring another 84. He also plays quality defense up the middle, as he made just 11 errors last season. Pedroia also is still capable of providing quality services to the club, if he can stay healthy. He played in just 93 games last year, due to injuries, but when he played he was effective. If he can get back up around 140-145 games this year, that means things are going well for Boston. Now onto the new corners of this infield. First there's Ramirez, who's left field stint last year proved to be a true circus act. Couple the defensive disaster with a slightly injury plagued year and Ramirez is looking towards this fresh start at first. He wasn't horrible there in the spring, though he wasn't horrible in left last spring either. The one thing to take solace in, however, is that while first base is a position that is more difficult to play than people think, it's probably a more natural transition for him then it was in left field due to his infield experience. They'll need him to be passable at first and a consistently healthy bat in their lineup, if the Sox want to win a lot this year. Now for third base. One of last year's other flashy free agent signings, Pablo Sandoval, has had trouble putting down the doughnuts and in turn has had trouble performing on the field and living up to the big money deal he was given a year ago. That's why Kung Fu Panda will be starting the season on the pinned pony. Well, that and the fact that youngster Travis Shaw performed well in limited action last season and then had a monster camp this spring. Shaw's powerful slash line of.338/.394/.492 trounced Panda's .204/.231/.408 line throughout March. Good news for Panda is that since he's on the bench he'll have the chance to be the first one in line for the post game spread each night. The team also has the added benefit of having Brock Holt readily available to play any of the four infield positions at any moment. He'll actually start the year in left field but he will see his fair share of infield time this year, which isn't necessarily a bad thing for Boston.
- Mookie Betts RF
- Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
- Brock Holt LF
- Rusney Castillo OF
- Chris Young OF
Betts is the best all-around outfielder on this club. He plays superb defense and hits for both average and power. Last season, he hit 18 homers and stole 21 bases while slashing .291/.348/.471. Coming close last year, you can expect him to be a 20/20 guy this year in terms of steals and home runs. Bradley is better than Betts in the field, as many people consider him one of the top defensive outfielders in the game. The two should cover a lot of ground this year making it tough for opposing players to find space to drop hits into the right side of the outfield. Bradley's bat is a question mark though, as he's been a pretty weak hitter throughout his brief career. In parts of three seasons, he's slashed .213/.290/.349, which just isn't going to cut it. It'll be tough to swallow if they lose his defensive abilities because his bat just can't hang. He did bat 51 points higher last year than he did the year before which is a good sign, though his average last year was just .249. As mentioned before, Holt will start the season in left, mainly because Rusney Castillo failed to wow in his second full spring with the club. Holt's a quality big league role player and even made the All-Star team last year, but if things were going well Castillo would be in that starting lineup. Finally, there's Chris Young, who is a quality defensive outfielder and is capable of playing all three positions. He mashed left handed pitching last year, with the Yankees, slashing .327/.397/.575. He'll get his fair share of at-bats against lefties this season, as well.
- David Ortiz
This will be a bittersweet year for Papi as he prepares to walk off into the sunset, at the end of the campaign. Ortiz is a legend in Boston and is arguably the greatest designated hitter in the history of the game. The 19-year veteran put together a quality season last year, slashing .273/.360/.553 and clubbing 37 homer runs while driving in 108 runs. All signs point to the fact that he'll have another solid year this season, to cap off his storied career.
Boston's going to score runs this season and their going to win some games because of their bats. There are some questions however. Like what happens if Hanley struggles at First? What if Hanley or Pedroia get injured? What if Bradley can't hit enough to play everyday and Castillo still doesn't rise to the occasion? They've got bright spots in Betts and Bogaerts but they've got uncertainties too. All in all Ortiz and company shouldn't be the number one cause to blame if things come tumbling down in Beantown.