The 2012 Boston Red Sox look to avoid a repeat of last years woes, and to be honest, drunkard collapse. The Red Sox had the division lead for a period of last season and were looking poised for a deep post-season run. This all came to a commanding halt after the “chicken and beer” fiasco and this affected mostly the starting pitching that had been so dependable prior to the collapse.
Clay Bucholz was one of the injured pitchers that was part of what was considered all “aces” in the rotation. Clay in particular was hard to label such because of the regression he faced after a tremendous 2010 season where he was 17-7 and held a 2.33 ERA. The main downfall was Josh Becket’s spiralling performance down the stretch where in September he went 1-2 with a 5.48 ERA when every game determined if they would advance to the post season.
This type of performance, although better than the other starters on that staff, has been linked to the “Beer-gate” issue. A repeat of that situation would certainly be something that should and will be avoided this year especially with Bobby Valentine at the helm.The offense is still explosive and they will have plenty of bounce back candidates. One of which could be looked upon as forgotten, one who happens to have a lucrative contract and be returning from injury. Which I will touch on in the underrated section below.
OF Ryan Sweeney, OF Cody Ross, RP Mark Melancon, C Kelly Shoppach, Util Nick Punto
Andrew Bailey (RP): He has the stuff to close out games for this team and may not display the drama which Papelbon had a tendency to do. This will have Red Sox fans a little more relaxed to close games having more faith in him, there is a sense of optimism for his recent injury woes though. Not concerning yet, but the off season acquisition and you will even notice in some fantasy drafts, having Melancon to insert into the closer role is a good piece to have if things do go wrong for Bailey.
RP Tim Wakefield (RETIRED), C Jason Varitek (RETIRED), RP Jonathan Papelbon(PHILLIES), SS Marco Scutaro (ROCKIES), RF J.D. Drew (N/A), OF Josh Reddick (ATHLETICS), RP Dan Wheeler (INDIANS), SP Erik Bedard (PIRATES)
1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury (.321 BA)
2. 2B Dustin Pedroia (.307 BA)
3. 1B Adrian Gonzalez (.338 BA)
4, 3B Kevin Youkilis (.258 BA)
5. DH David Ortiz (.309 BA)
6. C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.235 BA)
7. LF Cody Ross (.244 BA)
8. RF Ryan Sweeney (.265 BA)
9. SS Mike Aviles (.255 BA)
1. LH Jon Lester (15-9, 3.47)
2. RH Josh Beckett (13-7, 2.89)
3. RH Clay Buchholz (6-3, 3.48)
4. RH Daniel Bard (RP)
5. RH Alfredo Aceves (RP)/ LH Felix Doubront (RP)
RH Andrew Bailey (24 SV, 3.24)
RH Mark Melancon (20 SV, 2.78)
Most Overrated fantasy player
Jacoby Ellsbury-An increase in power last year makes Ellsbury a heavily drafted top 5 OF. He has gotten so much love based on his production from last year and that would be great to see again. Replicating last season would be remarkable, but not likely since the HR’s will be more tapered. He will probably hit in the two hole which would give him a chance to bring in runners. If he can get on base with the big bats behind him he certainly can get some score some runs himself. But for a guy drafted in the top 10 he will not finish amongst the top 10 fantasy players this year. 10-20 HR’s is more reasonable than the 32 he hit last year.
Most Underrated Fantasy Player
Carl Crawford-Not because he should not be accountable for the type of money he is making, but the fact that he underperformed so much just last year will make people stay away. His BA should remain relatively consistent around .275 or better. Hits and run production will be similar–although I feel as though if he would hit top of the order obviously those runs would increase, but that’s Bobby V’s call. The stolen bases will be what most fantasy owners paid for in recent drafts and after last year he produced his lowest career total of just 18 bags. The SBs will need to improve and I think they will at least double this year which presents an all around player coming back to form, who has a little pop and will get you RBI’s which makes for a good middle round play.
Potential Fantasy Sleeper
Daniel Bard-The upside is certainly there for Bard if he can make the rotation, as a middle reliever he provides nothing. He can be relied on heavily for strikeouts as he averaged a K/9 so far in his career. If history tells us anything it is that some of the relievers turned starters have not panned out. That alone could have fantasy owners overlooking him or avoiding him in general. Not me his ERA has been more than commendable throughout his career and Bobby Valentine is pushing for it, that is only going to help the guys confidence. The only question I have is will there be an innings limit applied to him? If so he is a guy that will produce for you early in the season and give the flexibility to pick up another SP when the time comes (if it does in fact happen).