Let's Go Tribe's American League Preview: Boston Red Sox

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Our look at the Tribe's competition around the American League continues with the Red Sox, who just keep getting easier to hate.


Between now and Opening Day, we'll be taking a look at each of the other American League teams, to see what they've done during the offseason, and examine their outlook for 2014.

Find other entries in the series here

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Boston Red Sox

2013 Record: 97-65 (1st in AL East), 6-1 vs. Cleveland

853 runs scored (1st of 15 in AL), 656 runs allowed (6th of 15 in AL)

The Red Sox famously fell apart in September of 2011, going 7-20 down the stretch and missing the playoffs. They let go of Terry Francona, brought in Bobby Valentine for 2012, and promptly went 69-93, making it the franchise's worst season since 1965. Valentine was fired, John Farrell was brought in, and the team headed into 2013 with lower expectations surrounding it than for any season in probably 20 years.

Boston came out of the gates hot, starting out 18-7, and there was never a day after the first two weeks of the season that they weren't sitting in a playoff position. The division race remained fairly tight through late August, but a 17-4 stretch put that competition to bed, and the Red Sox clinched a playoff spot with 10 days still remaining in the season, and wound up with the best record in the American League. They dispatched Tampa Bay in 4 games in the ALDS, took care of Detroit in 6 games in the ALCS, and defeated St. Louis in 6 games in the World Series; giving the Red Sox three of the last ten MLB championships.

When you adjust for park factors and such, Boston had one of the better rotations in the AL. Clay Buchholz may have won the Cy Young if he'd been healthy all season (a shoulder injury caused him to miss most of June and all of July and August), while guys like Jon Lester and John Lackey turned in solid years. They also had perhaps the best closer in baseball, Koji Uehara, who posted a 1.09 ERA in 74.1 innings, with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 101/9.

The offense was the big breadwinner for Boston though. They easily led the league in runs scored (with 57 more than any other team), on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and wRC+ (which accounts for park factors). David Ortiz continued to defy Father Time by posting another big season, and the lineup was well above average at every position but third base.

Key offseason additions:

A.J. Pierzynski (C), Edward Mujica (RP), Grady Sizemore (OF)

Key offseason departures:

Jacoby Ellsbury (CF), Stephen Drew (SS), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (C)

2014 Payroll: ~$155 million

Projected 2014 Starting Lineup (with ZiPS fWAR projection):

Pos

Player

Projected WAR

C

A.J. Pierzynski

3

1B

Mike Napoli

2

2B

Dustin Pedroia

5

3B

Will Middlebrooks

2

SS

Xander Bogaerts

3

LF

Daniel Nava

1

CF

Jackie Bradley

2

RF

Shane Victorino

3

DH

David Ortiz

3

TOTAL

24

Indian who has killed the Red Sox:

Jason Kipnis- .356/.420/.733, 1.153 OPS, 5 HR in 50 PA

Red Sox who has killed the Indians:

Dustin Pedroia - .326/.396.451, .847 OPS, 4 HR in 222 PA

Projected 2014 Starting Rotation/Bullpen (with ZiPS fWAR projection):

Pos

Player

Projected WAR

1

Jon Lester

4

2

John Lackey

3

3

Clay Buchholz

3

4

Jake Peavy

3

5

Felix Doubront

2

RP

Bullpen

4

TOTAL

19

2014 Outlook:

I'm going to leadoff here by mentioning Grady Sizemore, probably the last professional athlete I'll ever have such strong feelings for. On the one hand, I would be happy to see Grady get back to being even an average MLB player, someone worth having in the lineup on something close to an everyday basis (and some healthy enough to stay in the lineup on something close to an everyday basis). On the other hand, not for the Red Sox. Couldn't he have signed with Seattle or something?

Drew was a good player last year, but Xander Bogaerts is one of the top prospects in baseball, and I think he can provide similar value. Pierzynski probably won't hit as well as Saltalamacchia, but he's not a big drop off. Ellsbury is a serious loss though, and I doubt Bradley is able to come close to replicating Ellsbury's production, not in 2014 anyway. Still, Boston has a very strong lineup, and they'd be my pick to lead the league in runs scored again.

I'm not as sold on Boston's rotation as ZiPS seems to be (those projections would make them one of the best groups in the league), but they're better than average, and I expect the bullpen to be good as well. Boston is in the same position as Tampa Bay, in that they appear to be one of the top 4 or 5 teams in baseball, but because they're in the East together, a division title is no kind of safe bet. I certainly expect to see Boston in the postseason, but the Wild Card Game means there's a big difference between finishing 1st and finishing 2nd (as Tribe fans were reminded last year). I for one will be rooting against the Red Sox. Four titles in eleven seasons would be too many for one team.

PECOTA Projection: 88-74 (2nd in AL East), 779 runs scored, 709 runs allowed

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