The Boston Red Sox can’t afford for much to go wrong this season.
ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle on Thursday projected Boston’s chances of reaching the playoffs, winning the American League East division, claiming the AL pennant and triumphing in the World Series in 2020, as things stand halfway through the Major League Baseball offseason.
While ESPN ranks the Red Sox as MLB’s fifth-most powerful team and projects their chances of returning to the playoffs after a one-year absence at 61.6 percent, the Worldwide Leader projects for them just a slight, 19.2 percent chance of winning the AL East, an even slimmer 8.4 percent chance of reaching the World Series and an ultimately minuscule, 4.6 percent chance of winning the Fall Classic.
“The Red Sox look good on paper, but their standing is tenuous,” Doolittle wrote. “First, consider how close their power rating (90.4) is to the Indians (90.1), Athletics (89.3), Rays (86.6) and Twins (85.4) just behind them, not to mention how far away it is from the Yankees (99.2). Boston’s outlook is still bolstered by its historic 2018 campaign. However, for this group to look more like those champions instead of last season’s also-rans, it needs to position itself against a possible decline from J.D. Martinez and a likely regression from Eduardo Rodriguez.
“However, right now the aim seems to be more about trimming payroll than filling in the gaps. Given the hyper-competitiveness of the American League, balancing the short- and long-term outlooks will be a major challenge for new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom.”
The Red Sox’s 40-man roster currently is full and they’re set to begin spring training next month with the strengths and potential challenges Doolittle described, barring major changes in the coming weeks.
Although plenty of time remains for Bloom and Co. to the alter the team’s outlook for the 2020 season via bold moves, not doing so will leave the team facing many of the same questions with which it entered the offseason and some distance behind the New York Yankees, Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers in the MLB pecking order … at least on paper.
Thumbnail photo via Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports Images