Red Sox 2017 ZiPS Projections Expect Big Things From Boston’s Rotation

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Spoiler alert: The Boston Red Sox are expected to be really, really good this season.

Of course, preseason hype means nothing after Opening Day, as plenty of teams fall short of expectations once the 162-game grind kicks into gear. But it’s still fun to speculate during the winter months, and with Boston winning the American League East in 2016 and making a huge splash this offseason, it’s easy to see why Red Sox Nation is excited for the 2017 campaign.

The numbers back up the hype, too.

Each year, Dan Szymborski provides some of the most in-depth (and best) stat projections for each Major League Baseball team. There’s a lot to soak in when it comes to Szymborski’s computer-based projections — known as ZiPS projections — but basically, Szymborski, who’s a rather intelligent and mathematically savvy guy, takes a stab at projecting the numbers each individual player will produce going into each season.

Szymborski continued his annual exercise this offseason for FanGraphs, with his 2017 Red Sox projections being published earlier this week. Just like last offseason, Szymborski is expecting big things from Mookie Betts, who finished second in American League MVP voting behind Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout in 2016.

The real takeaway from Szymborski’s ZiPS projections, however, is just how good Boston’s rotation could be. The addition of Chris Sale, one of the best pitchers in baseball, changes everything. The top five Red Sox starters are projected to record about 20 wins above replacement (WAR) as a group. By comparison, the New York Mets, who featured the top rotation in 2016, produced just over 18 wins as a group last season.

In other words, if Szymborski’s projections turn out to be accurate, the Red Sox could have the best rotation in baseball in 2017. That obviously bodes well for Boston’s World Series aspirations, especially since the club figures to again have an explosive offense, even without David Ortiz.

Let’s run down some notable 2017 ZiPS projections for the Red Sox’s projected starters/key contributors.

Mookie Betts: 5.9 WAR, 24 HR, 95 RBIs, 27 SB, .307 AVG, .361 OBP, .504 SLG
Xander Bogaerts: 3.8 WAR, 17 HR, 81 RBIs, 10 SB, .288 AVG, .343 OBP, .432 SLG
Jackie Bradley Jr.: 3.2 WAR, 18 HR, 72 RBIs, 8 SB, .255 AVG, .332 OBP, .443 SLG
Dustin Pedroia: 3.2 WAR, 10 HR, 56 RBIs, 6 SB, .291 AVG, .351 OBP, .408 SLG
Andrew Benintendi: 2.2 WAR, 12 HR, 68 RBIs, 13 SB, .278 AVG, .341 OBP, .446 SLG
Hanley Ramirez: 1.8 WAR, 20 HR, 86 RBIs, 9 SB, .280 AVG, .358 OBP, .471 SLG
Pablo Sandoval: 0.5 WAR, 11 HR, 52 RBIs, 0 SB, .264 AVG, .313 OBP, .406 SLG
Sandy Leon: 1.3 WAR, 5 HR, 24 RBIs, 0 SB, .246 AVG, .311 OBP, .367 SLG
Christian Vazquez: 1.1 WAR, 4 HR, 31 RBIs, 2 SB, .245 AVG, .299 OBP, .344 SLG
Mitch Moreland: 0.5 WAR, 15 HR, 62 RBIs, 1 SB, .244 AVG, .304 OBP, .415 SLG
Chris Young: 0.8 WAR, 10 HR, 32 RBIs, 4 SB, .241 AVG, .316 OBP, .433 SLG
Brock Holt: 1.1 WAR, 5 HR, 42 RBIs, 9 SB, .273 AVG, .335 OBP, .379 SLG

Now, let’s check out the 2017 ZiPS projections for some of Boston’s key pitchers.

Chris Sale: 6.2 WAR, 199 2/3 IP, 226 K, 2.79 ERA, 2.88 FIP
David Price: 5.0 WAR, 218 IP, 221 K, 3.47 ERA, 3.29 FIP
Rick Porcello: 4.3 WAR, 195 1/3 IP, 159 K, 3.55 ERA, 3.62 FIP
Drew Pomeranz: 2.7 WAR, 136 2/3 IP, 141 K, 3.69 ERA, 3.66 FIP
Eduardo Rodriguez: 2.2 WAR, 146 2/3 IP, 125 K, 4.11 ERA, 4.09 FIP
Steven Wright: 2.0 WAR, 122 IP, 95 K, 3.98 ERA, 4.30 FIP
Craig Kimbrel: 1.0 WAR, 54 2/3 IP, 80 K, 2.96 ERA, 3.14 FIP
Tyler Thornburg: 0.9 WAR, 60 IP, 68 K, 3.15 ERA, 3.49 FIP
Joe Kelly: 0.6 WAR, 60 1/3 IP, 65 K, 3.58 ERA, 3.64 FIP

The above projections are just a sample of how in-depth Szymborski goes each year, so you’re encouraged to check out the full Red Sox projections, along with a description of how the projections are computed, over at FanGraphs.

Click for 2017 Red Sox ZiPS projections >>

Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images

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