Ok, it’s springtime (at least in theory, meteorological theory of course) and with that comes the start of baseball season. Spring training games have just begun and most teams have a pretty good idea of what their team is looking at heading into the start of the season. The Red Sox have their lineup pretty good to go. There are some changes that could be made, specifically to the bench (see Lowell, Mike). So, I figured I would go position by position to see where the Sox stand and how they look for this year. Maybe give some rough estimations of where I think they will finish statistically as well. Here is part 1, the infield.
So here goes:
C – Victor Martinez
Ok, I am expecting probably 100 games behind the dish from V-Mart with some time at 1B and DH scattered in there as well. Figure maybe 130-140 games total. That is pretty decent all in all for a catcher, especially if Tito wants to keep him nice and rested as the season goes along. Projections are showing him to be about a .365/.455/.820 guy all in all (that would be OBP/SLG/OPS for those of you who aren’t as stat minded as me). As a catcher’s numbers, those are great. But, do not believe that V-Mart is the next coming of Johnny Bench. Do not expect huge power numbers from him. That has never been his game. But, he could easily knock in 100 or more hitting third on this team where I imagine he will be slotted. I think he will be around the projection numbers with about 20 HRs and 100 RBI. I’m not going out on a limb with that I know, but I think it will work out that way. Varitek will actually put up nice numbers as well backing him up and facing mainly lefties. I can see him going .350/.450/.800 in limited duty. That would make for a very nice catching situation offensively. Defensively…. well, let’s not get into opponents stealing. That is scary.
1B – Kevin Youkilis
Projections are a bit scattered on him with the usually conservative MARCEL showing a much higher value than Bill James projection. Surprising. They are averaging out at about .390/.495/.895 for him. I see him possibly being a bit down from there, maybe a .380/.490/.870 season for him, 25 HRs, 100 RBI or so. It will be a strong season from the cleanup hitter all in all. I think he has peaked. I truly do. I think a few more really solid seasons though isn’t unreasonable. But he is on the wrong side of 30 now, so it makes sense and he doesn’t exactly have a skill set that looks to age too greatly. He is what he is and what he is, is valued nicely with a solid contract, great defense at third, and versatility to play third as well. V-Mart will have some time at 1B, maybe Lowell too. But, Youk should be there most of the time and that is what you want.
2B – Dustin Pedroia
If you looked quickly at his numbers from ’09 as compared to ’08, you would have thought that Pedroia really slid down after his MVP ’08. In truth, there is a LOT to like from last season. For one thing, his BB rate shot up over 50% from the season before. I don’t expect that to hold, but I think there was definite improvement there. Add to that he was very unlucky last year as opposed to years prior, with his BABIP taking a dive from the .330 range to under .300. I would expect him to have that BABIP jump back up to at least the .315-.320 range. That will boost his batting average up as well, and with the increase in walks, his OBP also. His ISO should remain about the same (a bit north of .150) which means with the increase in batting average, his SLG% will go up as well. This all adds up to a nicer looking season than last year. Projections have Pedroia at .835 OPS. I think he can do better than that and get closer to an .850 with a nice .385 OBP. Hopefully he returns to his super successful stealing ways of ’08 as well, because 20 for 28 (that he had last year) just isn’t that great of a percentage. Strong defense as always though and no Polanco to steal a gold glove, means it could be Pedroia’s to lose.
3B – Adrian Beltre
There is no possible way Beltre can hit as bad as he did last year right? He isn’t THAT bad now, is he? Well, I don’t think so. Projections feel the same way. They are looking at him to be about a .320/.430/.750 or so, maybe a bit higher. This would come with a bit less than 20 HRs. Call me optimistic, but I think he can and will do better than this (come on fantasy pick, don’t fail me now). I think he will like Fenway a lot this year. Maybe he can hit 40 2Bs while playing for the Sox. If that is the case, we could see a definite upward trend in that SLG%. Add a few more HRs (also I think possible), and we may see something along the lines of a .325/.475/.800 line from Beltre. I think that that is very reasonable actually. He had a .784 OPS in Seattle two seasons ago, and Fenway is a MUCH better hitting field than Safeco. So, I think he will surprise people to say the least. We all KNOW his defense is going to be good. He could be another gold glover at the hot corner. Yeah, this infield defense is going to be something special to watch I think.
SS – Marco Scutaro
So, is Marco the stopgap at short until Iglesias learns to hit? I hope so. I think he can be. I wouldn’t look for him to match last season’s career year, but I think he can be solid. Almost all of the projections have him rating out with similar OPS, although CHONE goes higher on the OBP than MARCEL and Bill James (while they go a bit higher on the SLG). It is averaging out at about a .350/.380/.730 line. Not unreasonable in truth. I think that that actually could be a really good number. With a solid OBP like that, he will have some great value at the bottom of the lineup. His defense is again solid appearing. Not great. But, it should be at least decent. With the other guys around him, that is all that the Sox need. And for the deal that they got him for, this was a very nice signing in my opinion.
I will follow with the outfield, DH, and bench on the next post.