You all know the story, Red Sox finished 97-65, first in the AL East, a little worse than their Pythagorean record of 100-62. Then they went on the win the World Series. The cherry on the top of the crap year we had. They scored 5.27 runs per game, best in the AL, and almost a run a game better than our 4.40 runs per game. They allowed 4.05 runs per game, a little better than the league average and much better than the 4.67 we allowed.
They didn't do much this offseason, but then they didn't need to make changes. They added A.J.Pierzynski, Edward Mujica, Jonathan Herrera and Grady Sizemore. Waving goodbye are Ryan Dempser, Andrew Bailey, Alfredo Aceves, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Stephan Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury.
Catcher: A.J.Pierzynski/David Ross
Jarrod Saltalamacchia had a good 2013 season, hitting .273/.338/.466 with 14 home runs, Fangraphs had him at a 3.6 WAR. But, come he playoffs, the Sox decided they didn't like his defense and in the offseason they let him go, preferring the 37 year old Pierzynski. AJ hit .272/.297/.425 for the Rangers, getting a 1.6 WAR.
First Baseman: Mike Napoli
Napoli had a really good 2013, hitting .259/.360/.482, with 23 home runs, getting a 3.9 WAR. He's 32 this year. I have doubts that he'll be quite that good this year.
Second Baseman: Dustin Pedroia
With Robinson Cano going to Seattle, Dustin is the best second baseman in the division. He played 160 games, hitting .301/.372/.415 with 9 home runs, and a 5.4 WAR.
Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts
How many Xanders do you know? Last year, Stephen Drew did a pretty good job for the Sox, hitting .253/.333/.443 and played good defense, adding up to a 3.4 WAR. This year they are going with the rookie. ZiPS figures Xander will hit .267/.331/.429, and get a 2.7 WAR.
Third baseman: Will Middlebrooks
Will hit .227/.271/.425 and lost his job to Jose Iglasias for a time. ZiPS has him hitting .249/.291/.425 for a 1.8 WAR. Jonathan Herrera will be their utility infielder.
Nava hit .303/.385/.445 with 12 home runs. Fangraphs had him at a 1.8 WAR. Gomes hit .247/.344/.426 with 13 home runs and a 1.0 WAR.
Center Field: Grady Sizemore/Jackie Bradley
Jacoby Ellsbury had a great 2013, hitting .298/.355/.426 with 9 home runs and 52 stolen bases. Fangraphs had him at a 5.8 WAR. So the Yankees signed him to a 7 year contract for over $21 million a year. They are replacing him with Sizemore, who hasn't been good since 2008, but likely will be good again because things work out for Boston, and Bradley, who hit .189/.280/.337 in 37 games, striking out 29% if the time, in 37 games.
Right Field: Shane Victorino
Victorino hit .294/.351/.451 with 15 home runs in 122 games, a 5.6 WAR. He'll be 33 this year, and has been kind of injury plagued over his career.
DH: David Ortiz
38 this year, but he doesn't seem to be losing anything with the bat. He hit .309/.395/.564 with 30 home runs, good for a 3.8 WAR. Sooner or later, he'll have to show his age, but ZiPS doesn't think this is the year, expecting a .296/.386/.552 year.
Jon Lester: He's been pretty consistent, starting 31 to 33 games, with more than 190 innings, in each of the last 6 seasons. He had a 3.75 ERA (right at his career mark) last year. He's 30 this year.
John Lackey: After a 6.41 ERA in 2011 and missing 2012, I really didn't expect the 3.52 ERA in 29 starts last year. He's 35 this year. He had a rough spring, allowing 20 hits, in 12.1 innings, with a 9.49 ERA.
Felix Doubront: Last year he put up a 4.32 ERA, a half run drop from his rookie season. He had a tough spring too, 23 hits and 15 earned runs in 14 innings.
Clay Buchholz: Sunscreen boy (I burn easy too, though I tend to keep the sunscreen out of my hair), was 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA in 16 starts last year. I can't imagine he'll have numbers that equal that this year.
Closer: Koji Uehara had 21 saves, with a 1.09 ERA last year, with 101 strikeouts in 74 innings. He might have been the best closer in baseball.
In 2013, it seemed like everything that could go right, for them, did. They were surprisingly healthy, Their starting pitching was great, especially considering they were the same group that were pretty awful the year before. I would like to think that they can't have the same amount of luck this year. Bradley and Sizemore can't be as good as was Ellsbury. I don't think Pierzynski will be as good as (but he will be more annoying than) Saltalamacchia. They do have some good young players coming up, but I don't think they will keep up with the Rays, but then I didn't think they would win last year either.