Let's be honest: expectations for the Boston Red Sox going into the 2020 MLB season weren't very high.
The team traded its best player in superstar outfielder Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers in January. It also dealt starting pitcher David Price in the same trade. Veteran starter Rick Porcello left the team in free agency to join the New York Mets. Boston also made no significant upgrades on the free agent market.
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The 2020 season has been delayed to the outbreak of COVID-19. It's still unknown if there will be a season, but MLB owners approved and submitted a proposal for a shortened season to the MLBPA this week. An 82-game schedule and an expanded playoff format reportedly were included in the proposal.
Matt Vasgersian joined NBC Sports' "Lunch Talk Live" earlier this week and talked about how a shortened season could make more teams contenders. He specifically mentioned the Red Sox as one of those teams.
"For that team that might've thought they might be a year away from a rebuild, maybe this is an opportunity because part of this proposal is an expanded postseason format, and Major League Baseball had proposed this prior to the COVID-19 environment. Going to 14 teams, it's intriguing for a team -- let's take the Boston Red Sox, for example. A down year in 2019, they kind of re-tooled, they deal Mookie Betts and David Price, a new manager and a lot of uncertainty there from the fans. But maybe this is the kind of environment that leads them to believe, 'Hey, in an 82-game schedule we can compete.'"
Watch the full clip in the video below:
There are definite question marks involving Red Sox pitching. The starting rotation and bullpen both have issues. The offense, however, should still be one of the best in the American League. The Red Sox ranked third among all 30 MLB teams in batting average and scored the fourth-most runs in 2019. Even without Betts, Boston's lineup still features plenty of talented hitters, including Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers.
Could the Red Sox slug their way to the playoffs in an 82-game season? It's certainly possible, especially if there are seven playoff teams in each league.