The Boston Red Sox have earned their place in the elite of MLB. Starting with “breaking” the overwrought “Curse of the Bambino”, the Sox have won four World Series titles in the last 19 MLB seasons, more than any other franchise. In fact, that is three more than the one title the entire rest of the American League East has taken in that time frame.
The flip side is that the Sox have had a bit of feast-or-famine results, especially in the last decade. Boston went from 5th in the AL East in 2012 to 1st and World Series champs in 2013, followed by two straight 5th place finishes, then three more firsts, culminating in another World Series in 2018. They have since thrown in last place again in 2020 and 2022 sandwiching a trip to the ALCS in 2021.
The prognosis leaks relatively bleak heading into 2023. The Sox finished 78-84 in 2022 and look weaker a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting. The 2018 World Series champs were absolutely loaded with superstars, but five seasons later Rafael Devers is the only big hitter still in town. Trevor Story would have taken over for short from the departed star Xander Bogaerts, but he is now down with shoulder surgery and may or may not suit up at all this year.
The story moving over to short left a hole at second base already. On the pitching side, Chris Sale will try yet again to stay on the field and recapture his old ace form. The rotation featuring Sale, Corey Kluber, and James Paxton would have ruled the league at one time but now is just three older injury-prone guys trying to stay effective and on the mound.
The biggest issue with all the stars gone is that the Sox never developed guys to step in like teams like the Astros and Braves do every season. Maybe Tristan Casas and Brayan Bello step up this season and more help comes from an improving farm, but that will probably not happen soon enough to salvage 2023.
BetMGM has win totals up, and they have the over/under on the Red Sox set at 76.5, -110 on both sides. Massachusetts sports betting went live on Feb.1st in three locations, the MGM Springfield Casino, Encore Boston Harbor Casino, and Plainridge Park Casino. Legal online sports betting begins in March if everything stays according to plan. BetMGM is one of several sportsbooks approved to launch when the windows open. New customers can take advantage of their first bet free bet insurance welcome offer. Just sign up, deposit funds and place a bet. If the wager hits, collect the winnings. If the wager loses, BetMGM credits your account with free bets equal in amount to the loss on the first bet, up to a max of $1000.
Based on the opening win total odds at BetMGM, the Red Sox project for a last place finish in the AL East in 2023.
- Yankees 95.5
- Blue Jays 93.5
- Rays 88.5
- Orioles 77.5
- Red Sox 76.5
They do have more upside than the Orioles as per the odds to win the AL East
- Yankees +100
- Blue Jays +220
- Rays +350
- Red Sox +1600
- Orioles +2500
It looks like “wait until next year” as far as playoff advancement goes. The Red Sox are +3500 to win the American League pennant and +8000 to take the World Series.
The big issue again on offense is the stars are all gone and not much in particular has stepped in to replace them. Justin Turner was effectively traded for JD Martinez (they were both free agents) and Martinez was only a 1.0 WAR player in 2022, so that will not be a tough hill to climb. Otherwise though, Bogaerts and for all intents and purposes Story are gone from an already last place 2022 team. Kike Hernandez moves in from center field to man shortstop while Christian Arroyo, way better cast as a super utility type, will now likely start at 2nd.
The Sox signed Masataka Yoshida from Japan to play left and Adam Duvall to take over center, so their bats effectively replace Story and Bogaerts. They likely will fall well short. Duvall is 34 years old and has big power at times but is a career .230 hitter with a .289 OBP. Yoshida projects as a good OBP guy but his power in Japan is only expected to translate to 15 or so homers here. He will basically give the Sox similar production to right fielder Alex Verdugo, which is to say a fraction of what Mookie Betts will give the Dodgers. Young players Casas and OF Jarren Duran contributing would really help here.
The pitching could see a big uptick if by some miracle Sale, Paxton and Kluber stay reasonably healthy and Bello develops or the talented Garrett Whitlock makes a successful conversion to starter. Even if all that happens though, none of them project to give the Sox a big innings total. Tanner Houck is another promising arm that could step up, but for now he looks headed for the bullpen.
The Sox did sign Proven Closer Kenley Jansen. If the season goes south before August he could end up as a trade chip for something of decent future value.
All told the team sits in a strange place. They are not in any sort of rebuild nor should they head into one. They also need a lot to go right just to contend for the Wild Card. The MLB schedule is more balanced this season, meaning fewer games in the tough AL East which helps on the margins.