2014 Boston Red Sox Preview: Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30


Before we get into the 2014 Boston Red Sox, let’s look back at last season. You don’t win the World Series without ample talent, and the 2013 Boston Red Sox were no exception. Their championship roster was anchored by the only offense to surpass 800 runs (853), and they scored 7.2% more runs than Detroit’s second-ranked offense. That 7.2%-gap was the largest since the Yankees eclipsed the field by 8.5% in 2007.

On the mound, Boston’s pitching staff was simply average. Their 3.79 ERA was good for 14th in the majors, though, their starting rotation’s 3.84 ERA ranked slightly higher (11th among all starting staffs in baseball). Jon Lester was solid, John Lackey was a revelation, Clay Buchholz was frustrating, and the rest was pretty much forgettable.

In 2014, the Red Sox will return almost the entirely same roster. Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are gone and Stephen Drew’s fate is still TBD as of this writing, but the starting rotation and the rest of the offense are holdovers from last year’s title run, save for a veteran catcher and a few important rookies that we’ll get to shortly.

Projected 2014 Boston Red Sox “Go-To” Lineup

Mike Napoli, 2014 Boston Red Sox

While Mike Napoli has lost his catcher eligibility, he’s still a good slugger to own at first base, with 92 RBI last season. Photo Credit: Keith Allison

  1. Shane Victorino, RF (33)
  2. Daniel Nava, LF (31)
  3. Dustin Pedroia, 2B (30)
  4. David Ortiz, DH (38)
  5. Mike Napoli, 1B (32)
  6. Xander Bogaerts, SS (21)
  7. A.J. Pierzynski, C (37)
  8. Will Middlebrooks, 3B (25)
  9. Jackie Bradley, CF (23)

Projected Pitchers

  • SP1 – Jon Lester (30)
  • SP2 – John Lackey (35)
  • SP3 – Clay Buchholz (29)
  • SP4 – Jake Peavy (32)
  • SP5 – Ryan Dempster (36)
  • CL – Koji Uehara (39)
  • Setup – Edward Mujica (29)
  • P – Felix Doubront (26)
  • P – Brandon Workman (25)
  • P – Allen Webster (24)
  • P – Rubby De La Rosa (25)
  • P – Anthony Ranaudo (24)

Fantasy Studs: David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia

Boston’s league-leading offense was very atypical in that they didn’t have a cluster of great hitters. Instead, they would grind though counts until their opponent cracked. As a result, they really had just three Fantasy studs in their lineup: Ortiz, Pedroia, and Ellsbury.

With Ellsbury gone, their stud count has dropped to two. Pedroia was already an elite player at his position, but Robinson Cano’s move to Seattle has opened up discussion regarding who really is the best second baseman in Fantasy.

While everyone thought Ortiz was done six years ago, the 38-year-old is still going strong. Last year, Ortiz was one of just three .300/30/100 players in baseball (along with Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera), so it would be foolhardy to count him out just because of his age.

Breakout Candidates: Xander Bogaerts, Clay Buchholz

These aren’t foreign names to you. Bogaerts is being targeted heavily in Fantasy drafts this year due to the hype of being one of baseball’s best prospects, and he’s well worth the investment. With great plate discipline, incredible maturity, plus power for a middle infielder, and the Green Monster in left field, I have a hard time seeing Bogaerts disappointing this season.

Buchholz demonstrated how talented he is last year, pitching to a 12-1 record and 1.74 ERA in 108.1 innings, and that’s the only reason he lands in this section. He has the ability to be borderline elite in any one year, but questions surrounding his health and maturity limit how high I would actually draft him.

Aside from those two, the Red Sox are lacking in high-upside, mid-round talent. The majority of their roster is made up of established veterans with a lot of use, but not much upside (Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, A.J. Pierzynski) or role players who are probably better on the field than they are in Fantasy (Daniel Nava, Lackey).

Clay Buchholz, 2014 Boston Red Sox

Clay Buchholz is like a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re going to get. He went 12-1 last season. Photo Credit: Jeff Valois

Sleeper Candidate: Will Middlebrooks

Middlebrooks was supposed to break out last year, but his terrible walk and strikeout rates doomed him to just 374 plate appearances with Boston. After getting sent down midway through the year, Middlebrooks returned in August and batted .276 with eight homers and 22 RBI in 40 games to finish the year. He’ll never hit for a good average, probably finishing around .265, but he has legitimate 25-30 homer power.

Bust Candidates: Koji Uehara

At 39 years old and coming off a career-high workload (88 innings including the playoffs), I have my concerns about Uehara’s ability to live up to expectations. You can’t ignore how incredible Koji Mania was last year, but Uehara went 143rd overall in an early mock draft we did over at BaseballProf.com, and I just don’t feel comfortable taking him over guys like Sonny Gray, Danny Salazar or Johnny Cueto. That will happen in drafts this spring.

Top Rookies: Jackie Bradley, Matt Barnes, Henry Owens

Bogaerts aside, Bradley is the only rookie you should know about on the 2014 Boston Red Sox. He walks a lot and has a decent power/speed combo, so a .280 average, 15 HR, 15 SB season is possible, though, he’ll probably rack up more steals than homers. He plays better in OBP leagues where he gets credit for his walks. I’d hardly call Bradley a great Fantasy prospect, but in two or three years we could look up and see Bradley putting up a more-than-acceptable 90/15/60/15/.285 line.

Barnes and Owens: They’re the team’s two big-time pitching prospects, but they’re not going to make it to the majors until mid-2015 at the earliest. Both have elite strikeout potential, but suffer from questionable control and still have a ways to go.

What Should We Know?

Boston is among the easier teams to get a read on as Spring Training for the 2014 Boston Red Sox approaches. The biggest questions are whether they bring back Drew and how the final rotation spot breaks down (Ryan Dempster vs. Felix Doubront). There really isn’t much else left up in the air.

Regarding Fantasy value, here are a few quick bullets to wrap things up:

  • Don’t be worried about Pedroia’s paltry 9 HR — he dealt with a thumb injury all year and should be good for 15-20 this season.
  • I believe Pierzynski to be a terrible play in 2014 due to both Boston’s love of backup David Ross and Fenway’s awful dimensions for pull-happy, left-handed power hitters.
  • Wait and see whether Victorino completely adopts right-handed hitting and adjust projections accordingly.
  • Jake Peavy is undervalued as a Fantasy starter because though his ERA will be around 4.00, he always posts a great WHIP; in terms of per-GS value, Peavy is right there with Lester

Bryan Curley is the co-founder of Baseball Professor, a sabermetrics-focused Fantasy Baseball site. We’ll be unveiling our 3rd Annual Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, a free 100-page guide containing rankings, projections, player bios, strategy articles, and more. Come check us out, listen to one of our podcasts, and get in on the Fantasy Baseball excitement!

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