On Monday, April 4, the Boston Red Sox kicked off their 2016 campaign to rebound from a disappointing 2015 season where they finished with a 78-84 record, last place in the American League East. The Red Sox open their season with two three-game road series, first against the Cleveland Indians and then against the Toronto Blue Jays (the 2015 American League East champions). This will be the fourth season under manager John Farrell. Here is the outlook for the 2016 Boston Red Sox Season.
Starting Lineup (in projected batting order):**
Mookie Betts (right field). Returning to the team for his second full season in the MLB, Betts is trying to build on an impressive 2015 performance where he had a .291 batting average, hit in 77 RBIs and 18 home runs and also stole 21 stolen bases.
Dustin Pedroia (second base). This will be the tenth MLB season (all with the Red Sox) for the four time all-star. Pedroia is coming back after only playing 93 games last season due to a hamstring injury.
David Ortiz (designated hitter). 2016 will be the last year of the 20-season (14 with the Red Sox) professional baseball career for the nine time all-star better known as “Big Papi.” Big Papi is returning from a season where he became the 27th player in MLB history to hit 500 home runs.
Xander Bogaerts (shortstop). Bogaerts will return to the baseball diamond after a spectacular 2015 season where he hit for a .320 batting average, winning the AL Silver Slugger award for being the best offensive shortstop. This is his fourth season as both a Red Sox and MLB player.
Hanley Ramirez (first base). The three time all-star will be playing in his 12th season in the league (third with the Red Sox) and will be coming off a disappointing 2015 season where he hit for his lowest batting average (.249) since 2011 (.243).
Travis Shaw (third base). In a surprise move, manager John Farrell chose to start the second-year (both with Boston) man over nine year veteran and two time all-star Pedro Sandoval, playing on a $90 million contract. This shows the tremendous faith the coaching staff places in the youngster.
Brock Holt (left field). Holt will be coming off of a 2015 season where he was named to his first all-star game. While Holt has played every position besides catcher and pitcher, he will begin the 2016 season as a left fielder.
Blake Swihart (catcher).The 2016 season will mark the first season Swihart has begun the year in the majors. He was called up from Pawtucket in May of last season and earned his keep on the team by hitting a batting average of .274 with 31 RBIs.
Jackie Bradley (center field). Bradley’s fourth season (all with Boston) will be the first season he will be a full-time outfield starter. Bradley was called up to start last year to play right field while Ramirez recovered. This year Bradley will make the switch to centerfield.
Starting Pitching Rotation
David Price. This is the first year of Price’s massive seven-year $217 million contract he signed this offseason with Boston. Last season (with Detroit and Toronto), Price finished with an 18-5 record and a 2.45 ERA, and lead Toronto to the American League Championship Series. He also finished second in the American League CY Young voting.
Clay Buchholz. This two time all-star will be playing his 10th season in the MLB (all with Boston). Buchholz had a solid 2015 campaign (ERA of 3.26) before being cut short by injury, a theme throughout his career.
Rick Porcello. In his second season as a Red Sox (after six with the Detroit Tigers), Porcello will try to rectify a disappointing 2015 season where he amassed a 9-15 record, a 4.92 ERA (career high) and 25 home runs allowed.
Joe Kelly. Also in his second season as a Red Sox (after three years with the St. Louis Cardinals), Kelly is returning to the starting rotation after finishing his 2015 season injured.
Steven Wright. In his fourth year with the Red Sox organization, Wright is trying to establish himself as a regular on the Red Sox roster after bouncing between the AAA and MLB levels during his first three years in the league.
Craig Kimbrel (closer). Acquired in a trade from the San Diego Padres, the four time all-star will help fortify the Red Sox Bullpen. Kimbrel is coming off a moderately disappointing 2015 season, his first since 2010 without being an all-star or leading the National League in saves.
Outlook The Red Sox return most of the same pieces from last year’s last place campaign, with Kimbrel and Price being the big-money additions. With that added talent as well as the continued development from their young core, the Red Sox should see improvement on last years record. Prediction 85-77 record, third place in American League East, missing out on the playoffs.