The dust hasn’t settled on the 2020 Major League Baseball season yet, but some already are wondering what to make of the Boston Red Sox’s chances of bouncing back.
ESPN’s David Schoenfield on Tuesday night pegged the Red Sox at No. 19 on in his “way-to-early” MLB power rankings for the 20201 season. In ranking Boston 19th, Schoenfield predicts the Red Sox will improve on their woeful 2020 season, in which they went 24-36 and finished last in the American League East division in a pandemic-shortened season.
“This was the hardest team to project,” Shoenfield wrote. “The pitching was so awful — 5.85 runs per game, the most for the franchise since 1932 — that it’s easy to assume it will be bad again in 2021. It was also bad in 2019 (5.11 runs per game), so we have a two-year track record. Maybe they get Chris Sale back at midseason and Eduardo Rodriguez returns from his COVID-related heart issue. There is a nice offensive core with Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Alex Verdugo and Christian Vazquez (and J.D. Martinez if he bounces back). I’m not sure what Bobby Dalbec will be. I guess his upside is Joey Gallo, if that’s a good thing. More importantly, is Chaim Bloom playing the long game or will there be pressure to get the Red Sox immediately back into contender status?”
The last sentence in Shoenfield’s analysis is the most important in predicting how the Red Sox will perform in 2021. Will Bloom shape Boston’s roster under expectations of Sale and Rodriguez returning with bangs and Dalbec becoming a strikeout-prone slugger like Gallo? Who knows at this point.
The Red Sox had MLB’s fourth-worst record in 2020, so Shoenfield wouldn’t surprise many if he ranked Boston 27th. However, the factors he highlights suggest better days are ahead for the Red Sox, and Shoenfield seemingly ranks them accordingly.