Saturday, March 10, 2018


By Michael Wong

Fort Myers, Fla.--The Boston Red Sox are not playing around.  After a disappointing early exit from the 2017 postseason, the Red Sox made another splash in free agency by coming to agreement with slugging outfielder J.D. Martinez.  Already possessing uber-starter Chris Sale to front a potent rotation, the Red Sox figure to be neck-and-neck with the New York Yankees throughout the course of the 2018 season.  So let's get right to the main fantasy baseball-related topics as spring training continues onward.

1.  What is the next step for Andrew Benintendi?  What a talent the Red Sox have on their hands in the five-tool gem that is Benintendi as he comes off a tremendous 2017 rookie campaign where he hit 20 home runs, stole 20 bases, and batted .271.  While the average was a bit disappointing, Benintendi's arrow is pointing squarely northward as he figures to make gains hitting at Fenway Park and versus lefties.  A 25/25 campaign is very much in play this season and an average improvement to .290 or so also seems likely.  Round 3 is not too early to look in this direction.

2.  Mookie Betts remains a first-round dynamo!  Last year at this time, Betts was being picked second behind Mike Trout in 90 percent of fantasy baseball leagues and for good reason as he came off an insane five-tool performance in 2016 as he hit 31 home runs, stole 26 bases, and batted .318.  While Betts jogged back the power and average some last season, the .264 mark he put up in the latter was fueled by a fluky dip in BABIP.  Betts is being knocked unfairly for the average drop which is causing him to be picked in the middle-to-late portion of Round 1.  It would be an absolute steal to get Betts at that point or really anywhere else.

3.  Another 300 K's for Chris Sale?  It is amazing how talented Sale is as he comes off a monster 308-K/2.90 ERA campaign in 2017.  Sale did fade a bit in September as fatigue likely set in but overall he should be picked right in the same range as Corey Kluber and Max Scherzer.  And yes, 300 strikeouts is in the ballpark again.

4.  Is there another level for Xander Bogaerts to reach?  It was a mildly disappointing season for Red Sox shortstop Xander Boagerts in 2017 as he hit just 10 home runs in 571 at-bats and batted just .273. In Bogaerts' defense though, he dealt with nagging injuries throughout the year and he is just now entering in his prime.  A jump back to a .300 average with a 15/15 split in the power/speed categories is more than possible and the cheaper draft cost this spring make Bogaerts even more appealing.

5.  Is Rafael Devers the next star at the hot corner?  Devers has done nothing but hit since turning pro and that included his late-season promotion to the Sox last summer.  While his overall approach at the dish could use some work, Devers has the natural power to be an annual 25-home run bat at a position which has been a massive uptick in offensive production the last few seasons.

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