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Another year, another World Series title. Wow, I didn’t think I’d have the guts to say that in my lifetime. 2007 wrapped up another chapter in the history of the Red Sox. We won our 2nd World Series in four years and produced the AL rookie of the year in 2nd baseman Dustin Pedroia. We also saw the emergence of future CF Jacoby Ellsbury, witnessed the first Sox rookie, Clay Buchholz, throw a no hitter, and watched our Japanese import, Daisuke Matsuzaka, learn the ropes of American baseball. We also had a 20 game winner in Josh Beckett. So what didn’t the 2007 Red Sox have? Kevin Millar, and we can all be thankful for that. How does 2007 success translate to 2008 fantasy numbers? Let Pete tell you what is expected to come.
David Ortiz, DH: Ay Papi! Who else would I lead off with? There are some crazies out there who saw last year as a down year. Well OK, in terms of HR’s and RBI yes. Look at everything else though, Ortiz had career highs in AVG, OBP, hits, doubles, and stolen bases (OK, it was only 3, but still, a career high). Oritz also battled a knee injury all of last season and still produced amazing numbers. A healthy Oritz in 2008 will give you MVP numbers.
Pete’s Prediction: 118 R, .296 AVG, 45 HR, 130 RBI, 1 SB
Manny Ramirez, OF: Although Manny continues to put up great numbers, his durability has come into question as of late. He hasn’t topped 133 games played in the past two seasons and is always getting banged up. However if healthy, expect big things. Manny and Oritz are arguably the best 1-2 combination in baseball. Manny is an RBI machine and has the power to go with it. He is also only 10 home runs away from the 500 club. If that isn’t enough incentive to play, I don’t know what is.
Pete’s Prediction: 96 R, .301 AVG, 29 HR, 105 RBI, 0 SB
Mike Lowell, 3B: Ask anyone who writes for this site and they’ll tell you that I was 100% opposed to bringing Lowell here for only one reason: trading Hanley Ramirez. Although the results speak for themselves now, I still have the right to be upset. Personal issues aside, Lowell had career numbers in RBI, hits, AVG, and OBP. So, a small drop in numbers is expected. Lowell loves Fenway because the monster provides a large amount of doubles (which count in the Sports of Boston league). In Boston’s lineup, he has plenty of RBI opportunities. You could do a lot worse at the 3B position.
Pete’s Prediction: 75 R, .290 AVG, 20 HR, 95 RBI, 2 SB
Kevin Youkilis, 1B: Youkilis started off smoking hot last season. Then after the break he only hit .238 with 7 home runs. I don’t expect that big a drop off this season. The home runs and RBI’s are decent. The reason he gets a mention here is because of his value to the Sports of Boston league. Youkilis is a great source for walks and OBP. He also is a lock for 40+ doubles.
Pete’s Prediction: 88 R, .286 AVG, 15 HR, 78 RBI, 4 SB
Dustin Pedroia, 2B: Admit it, you were scared after Pedroia hit .182 in April. It’s a good thing he hit .415 in May to even things out. Oh yeah, and there was that whole rookie of the year thing. Pedroia will build upon an impressive rookie campaign. He may not be a power or RBI source but, he is still blossoming, and being in the #2 spot in the Red Sox line up gives you plenty of runs. Plus, with 2nd base being a shallow position, Pedroia is a safe option.
Pete’s Prediction: 92 R, .309 AVG, 12 HR, 60 RBI, 10 SB
Josh Beckett, SP: Don’t you wish you had Hanley Ramirez back after you saw Beckett pitch in 2006? I know I did. Oh how second chances can be so amazing. Beckett was the only 20-game winner in the majors and he shows no sign of slowing down. Lets blame his first season with the Sox on him making an adjustment to the AL. His back spasms will cause him to miss opening day, but he won’t be out for long. If he can also avoid any more blisters, a shot at 20 more wins is not out of the question.
Pete’s Prediction: 18 W, 3.30 ERA, 190 K
Daisuke Matsuzaka. SP: Did he live up to the hype? Not really. That doesn’t mean he can’t be great. Josh Beckett needed a year of adjustment, so I will give Daisuke the benefit of the doubt. He was one of only eight pitchers in the majors to have 200+K’s, so there is value there. Being backed by a Red Sox offense doesn’t hurt either. He is the opening day starter and I expect big things from Dice-K in 2008.
Pete’s Prediction: 17 W, 3.90 ERA, 210 K
Jonathan Papelbon, RP: When it comes to closers, nobody beats Papelbon. In 2007 Papelbon had 37 saves with a 1.85 ERA. That is ridiculous, you couldn’t get those results in a videogame. I would say those numbers will regress but, in 2006 the numbers were even better, EVEN BETTER. In 2006 his ERA was .92 and he had 35 saves. Papelbon should be the first closer off the board because he combines mind-boggling stats with an offense that will give him the opportunities.
Pete’s Prediction: 2 W, 1.65 ERA, 80 K, 40 SV
OTHERS OF NOTE
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF: Is the starting job his? Unfortunately we still don’t know yet. In 33 games with the club, Ellsbury hit .353 with 9 SB. Ellsbury would give Boston a premiere leadoff man with more stolen bases than we could know what to do with. Assuming he gets the starting job, we have our future in CF set for years to come.
Pete’s Prediction (assuming a full season): 92 R, .300 AVG, 8 HR, 60 RBI, 40 SB
Clay Buchholz, SP: He was the first Sox rookie to throw a no-hitter. So what does he do for an encore besides date a Penthouse Pet? Assuming he is the #5 starter, Buchholz will have some regression from his 2007 numbers (3-1, 1.59 ERA). That doesn’t mean he will do a complete nosedive though. He will put up good numbers, but don’t expect another no-hitter.
Pete’s Prediction: 14 W, 3.88 ERA, 185 K
I know you may have expected me to analyze every single Red Sox player for this article. However, these previews are highlighting the major factors that can help your team. So do not complain to me that I missed some of the Sox players that you like. If you are thinking about complaining then let me as you a question. Who out there is really going to draft and start Jason Varitek, Julio Lugo, or J.D. Drew? Anyone? Yeah, I didn’t think so.