Boston Red Sox
2019 Record: 84-78
Third Place, AL East
Team ERA: 4.70 (19th in MLB)
Team OPS: .806 (4th in MLB)
What Went Right
For a team that ended up being one of the most disappointing clubs in baseball, there were some excellent individual performances for the Red Sox in 2019. Mookie Betts wasn't the MVP-level player he was in 2018, but he finished the season strong and ended the year with a .295/.391/.524 line with 29 homers and 16 steals. He was one of four players on the Boston roster to have an OPS above .900, with Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez tying with a .939 OPS for the team lead. Bogaerts was particularly impressive -- not that Martinez wasn't -- as the 27-year-old shortstop launched 52 doubles and 33 homers for the Red Sox in his 155 games. He also wasn't the only hitter in the lineup to post 50 two-baggers, as Rafael Devers lead all of baseball with 54, and he also slashed .311/.361/.555. Christian Vazquez didn't reach the same kind of offensive heights as the names above, but a .276/.320/.477 line with 23 homers and 72 RBI behind the plate is nothing to sneeze at. Very little went right on the pitching side, but Eduardo Rodriguez was able to win 19 games and strike out 213 hitters over 203 1/3 frames, and Brandon Workman posted a K/9 rate of 13.1 while registering a 1.88 ERA over 73 games.
What Went Wrong
After winning the World Series in 2018 and winning 108 games, Boston was only able to win 84 games in 2019, and the Red Sox are now looking for a replacement for Dave Dombrowski after missing the postseason. There were several pitchers who had uneven -- to put it nicely -- seasons, but Chris Sale certainly ranks at the top with a 4.40 ERA, and an elbow injury caused him to miss the last the last six weeks of the season. David Price was able to strike out 128 hitters over his 107 innings, but his ERA was 4.28, and a cyst on his left wrist and other lingering injuries limited his time on the mound. Rick Porcello was able to stay healthy, but wasn't any good in his 32 starts with a 5.52 earned run average and 1.394 WHIP, and Nathan Eovaldi was terrible with a 5.99 ERA and, you guessed it, battled injuries throughout the season. It wasn't just pitchers who disappointed, however. Andrew Benintendi did not have a breakout season as a 25-year-old with a .266 average and .774 OPS, and Jackie Bradley, Jr. posted an ugly .225/.317/.421 line in center.
** Sale has been among the top pitchers in baseball and is always going to miss bats with his ridiculous slider and the movement on his fastball. This is also the second straight year that he hasn't reached 160 innings, and there was just as much bad as good in 2019 when he was healthy. A rebound season is certainly reasonable to expect -- Sale doesn't turn 31 until the end of March -- but there's certainly some volatility you'll want to consider before investing early/heavily.
** Michael Chavis looked like he was on his way to Rookie of the Year award candacy after being promoted from Triple-A Pawtucket, but the 24-year-old struggled down the stretch, and a setback during his rehab from an oblique and shoulder injuries caused his season to end early. This is a former first-round pick who has tremendous right-handed power, but there are questions about the hit tool, and he's not going to provide much value on the bases. Still, in that park and with some solid offensive players around him, there's a chance that Chavis can really help in 2020; depending on format.
** Coming into the year, Vazquez had hit 10 career homers in 291 games. You can't help but wonder how real this power surge is when you consider he more than doubled that total; even if the plate appearances were an easy career high, as well. It's worth pointing out that there was no outlier month -- he hit between three-to-five homers in every month after April -- and he also added 26 doubles, so there was a lot of hard contact. It's certainly possible this was a career year, but Vazquez looked legit in 2019, and his positional value needs to be included when considering him, too.
** It'll be interesting to see what kind of role Eovaldi pitches in for the Red Sox next season. Keep in mind that Boston still owes him $17 million a season until 2023. It might make the most sense to pitch the right-hander in a swing-role, but the salary probably means that's out of the question. With that contract -- and the fact that there's no obvious answer at the back of the bullpen right now -- it wouldn't be a shock if the Red Sox gave him a chance to win the closer's job this spring. We've certainly seen the stuff play up in relief before, but there are always going to be injury concerns with Eovaldi no matter what his role is.
** Is this what Andrew Benintendi is? Over his three full seasons with the Red Sox, the talented outfielder has posted an OPS of .776, .830, and .774 over 2,052 at-bats. This was once one of the top prospects in baseball -- maybe even the best at one point -- and we've seen flashes of brilliance. It just seems like those flashes have been followed by struggles. Because he's 25 and because he's had some impressive spurts there's reasons to believe that a put-it-together season is coming, but this is no longer a small sample size. He's going to be a very polarizing player on draft boards come 2020.
Team Needs: Martinez can opt-out of his deal if he's willing to turn down three more seasons of being paid $23.75 million, and if he leaves, that's a big hole in the lineup that will need to be replaced. Holt would also be a loss because of his versatility, albeit one that would be easier to replace than a slugger like Martinez. Even the many, many dollars invested to the pitching staff, the Red Sox will need to improve their pitching staff if they're going to contend with the Yankees and Rays in the rotation, and while Porcello was not good last year, he was one of the few durable options. There has been talk about the Red Sox cutting payroll in 2020, so they're going to have to get creative while also hoping for some bounceback seasons if they're to return to the postseason next fall.