Now that the Major League Baseball lockout has ended, it’s time to look ahead to the 2022 season. The Boston Red Sox, who reached the American League Championship Series last season, figure to be a title contender.
Boston plays in the loaded AL East, which features projected heavyweights clubs, including the reigning division champion Tampa Bay Rays, the New York Yankees, and the up-and-coming Toronto Blue Jays. Tampa Bay won an AL-high 100 games last year, while the Red Sox and Yankees finished as wild-card teams with 92 wins. Toronto fell just short of the postseason with 91 wins.
The Red Sox have plenty of competition if they are to reach the playoffs for the second straight year. Let’s forecast their season with four bold predictions.
Boston Red Sox Predictions
1. Xander Bogaerts wins American League batting crown
Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts earned his fourth Silver Slugger award last season. He batted .295 with 23 homers and 79 RBIs. Bogaerts started the MLB All-Star Game at shortstop, his third All-Star selection of his career.
After another successful hitting campaign, what does Bogaerts have in store for the 2022 season? The 29-year-old will league the American League in batting for the first time in his career. The three-time World Series champion finished ninth in batting a season ago, .24 points behind Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel—who won his first ever batting crown with a .319 mark.
Bogaerts has plenty of competition for the AL batting title besides Gurriel. White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, Blue Jays slugger Vladamir Guerrero Jr. and Astros outfielder Michael Brantley are just a few of the many players who could challenge Bogaerts for the batting crown. However, the ultra-reliable Bogaerts—who has hit above .285 in four straight seasons and seven of his past eight—finds a way to earn his first batting championship in 2022.
2 Boston Red Sox trade Bobby Dalbec, call up Triston Casas
Bobby Dalbec finished the 2021 season on a high note after plenty of struggles early on. For the season, the first baseman belted 25 home runs across 452 plate appearances. However, strikeouts continue to be a issue for the slugger, who has a 35.8% career K rate.
Regardless of where Dalbec bats in the order, the 27-year-old figures to produce plenty of power numbers—and plenty of strikeouts along the way. While Dalbec is talented enough to be a starter on almost every MLB team, the Red Sox will trade him this season. Prospect Triston Casas, a first-round selection in the 2018 MLB Draft, will play his way out of Triple-A and force Boston to use him at first base on a semi-regular-to-regular basis.
The emergence of Casas will have Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom searching for trade partners in a deal centered on moving Dalbec. By July, Bloom finds a suitor and trades away Dalbec, giving Casas more opportunities for consistent playing time.
3. Rafael Devers leads American League in Runs Batted In
Superstar third baseman Rafael Devers dominated in 2021. He belted 38 home runs with 113 RBIs, earning a start in the MLB All-Star Game for the American League. Devers was the AL’s third base recipient of the Silver Slugger award and earned a spot on the All-MLB Second Team.
The 25-year-old is in line for an encore campaign in 2022. Devers will likely bat third or cleanup in Boston’s star-studded lineup. Hitting in the heart of the order for an offensive juggernaut, Devers will have plenty of opportunities to collect RBIs.
Devers ranked fourth in the AL (fifth across MLB) in RBIs last season. In the prime of his stardom, Devers wins the RBI crown in 2022—becoming the first Red Sox to accomplish the feat since J.D. Martinez in 2018.
4. Boston Red Sox make playoffs as wild-card team for second straight season, but lose in ALDS
As noted earlier, the AL East is a stacked division. Last season, the division produced 4 teams with 91+ wins and three clubs made the playoffs. Come fall 2022, there will again be three teams representing the East in the postseason.
The Red Sox—backed by a potent offense and a dominant starting pitching duo of Nathan Eovaldi and seven-time All-Star Chris Sale—find themselves back in the playoffs in 2022. A year after defeating the Yankees in the Wild Card Game, en route to an ALCS appearance, the Red Sox will make the postseason for the second year in a row as a wild-card team. This time around, look for the Red Sox to win the Wild Card Game, but lose in the American League Division Series.
The middle and back-end of the starting pitching rotation could spell problems throughout the regular season and in the ALDS for the Red Sox. Beyond Sale and Eovaldi, the Red Sox will rely on the likes of Nick Pivetta, Tanner Houck and Rich Hill. They will need one of those pitchers to emerge as a true No. 3 starter in 2022. That could be an issue for the inconsistent Pivetta and an aging Hill. Houck, fresh off his first full season in the big leagues, is the best bet to be reliable third starter, but that’s hardly a guarantee either.
Sale, who could one day end up in Cooperstown, has had his share of end-of-season woes. Less than two years removed from his Tommy John Surgery that sidelined him for the first four months of the 2021 season, Sale’s durability will be a topic of discussion for much of 2022.
With plenty of question marks in the pitching rotation, the Red Sox are unable to win a playoff series in 2022—losing in the ALDS instead.