2020 Fantasy Baseball: Boston Red Sox Team Preview

Fantasy baseball player profiles and stat projections for Boston Red Sox hitters and pitchers. What to expect from Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez, Chris Sale and more.
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Boston Red Sox

Regression in Boston’s pitching (4.70 ERA – 19th) in 2019 led to 24 fewer wins and failure to make the postseason for the first time since 2015. Boston allowed 181 more runs than they did in 2018 (647 – 3.75 ERA) while maintaining a high ranking in runs scored (901 – 4th). Over the past 17 seasons, the Red Sox have made the playoffs 10 times with four World Series titles.

Boston signed SP Martin Perez, IF Jose Peraza, and C Kevin Plawecki to one-year contracts. They claimed IF Jonathan Arauz in this year’s Rule 5 Draft.

The Red Sox have strength in their core of young hitters, but they did lose OF Mookie Betts to the Dodgers in a trade that returned OF Alex Verdugo, SS Jeter Downs, and C Connor Wong. Boston was able to package David Price in the deal to save a big part of his contract.

Their bullpen remains in flux with no clear closing option. Boston needs a healthy season from Chris Sale along with solid innings from Nathan Eovaldi.

In 2020, the Red Sox need to reclimb the mountain in the AL East with the New York Yankees expected to run and hide. They can’t win without a top-tier pitching staff or a lock-down closer in the 9th inning.

Starting Lineup

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1. OF Andrew Benintendi

Even with Boston getting a boost from some unsuspecting hitters in 2019, Benintendi lost value across the board. His strikeout rate (22.8) was a career-high, while his walk rate regressed (9.6). When he put the ball in play, his contact batting average (.359) fell in line with 2018 (.355) while repeating his career resume in his average hit rate (1.618). 

From June 1st to August 31st, Benintendi hit .302 with 36 runs, six HRs, 40 RBI over 275 at-bats. His season started with minor leg and foot injuries while picking up multiple other small issues along the way. Benintendi didn’t have an edge in his hard-hit rate (37.7), but he did rank higher in balls hit 95 MPH or more (87th). His fly-ball rate (40.7) is trending upward, but his HR/FB rate (7.9) is well below the top power hitters in the game. 

This spring, I would pay attention to the reports about his power and if he has added more bulk. In today’s game, Benintendi needs to push his home run total to a much higher level with a rebound in speed. His 2018 approach suggested a 20/20 floor with upside in batting average. His ADP sits at 95 in 12-teams leagues, while ranking 120th in SIscore value from his 2019 stats (18th in 2018). A possible .300-plus hitter with a balanced skill set.

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2. OF Alex Verdugo

Over six seasons in the minors, Verdugo hit .309 with 41 home runs, 271 RBI, and 44 steals over 1,956 at-bats. He already has two years of experience at AAA (.321 with 16 HRs, 106 RBI, and 17 SBs over 776 at-bats). His walk rate (8.0) was about league average in the minors and he had a low strikeout rate (11.4). 

In 2019 with the Dodgers, Verdugo hit .294 with 43 runs, 12 home runs, 44 RBI, and four stolen bases over 343 at-bats. His average hit rate (1.614) was the best of his career, with some regression in his CTBA (.344). He was tough to strikeout (13.0) while falling short in his walk rate (6.9). Verdugo played well against left-handed pitching (.327 with two HRs and nine RBI over 101 at-bats). Before the All-Star break, he hit .303 with 34 runs, nine home runs, and 39 RBI. His season ended in August due to an oblique injury, which led to minimal second-half stats (.261 over 69 at-bats with three HRs and five RBI). 

His hard-hit rate (39.3) ranked 175th in baseball. His swing path does produce a high number of ground balls (48.7 percent – 61.9 in 2018 with LA). Verdugo did improve his HR/FB rate (14.0). Tough out while offering a high average bat. He should push his power higher in 2020, but I wouldn’t expect a huge jump while adding some steals. With 550 at-bats and a top of the order opportunity, a fantasy owner should look for a .310-plus batting average with 80 runs, between 15 and 20 home runs, 75 RBI, and double-digit steals. His ADP was 227 in the early draft season, but a starting job pushed him to 122 in a recent draft. 

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3. 3B Rafael Devers

In 2019, Devers led the majors in hits of 95 MPH or more (252) with strength in his hard-hit rate (47.7 – 31st). His rise to stardom started with an improved approach at the plate (strikeout rate – 17.0 and walk rate – 6.8) with growth in his HR/FB rate (17.7) and his RBI rate (21)). 

Last year, Devers did have some regression in his fly-ball rate (34.3) compared to his rookie season (38.6). He didn’t have a home run in April (.294 with no HRs and eight RBI over 102 at-bats) while playing at an elite level over four months (.344 with 93 runs, 27 HRs, 98 RBI, and five SBs over 433 at-bats). His CTBA (.381) matched his 2017 resume between the minors and Boston. 

Devers finished as the fifth-most valuable player in fantasy Roto formats last year. He is the real deal with more upside in power, considering his 54 doubles backing up his 32 home runs. His biggest question will be repeating his approach and keeping his body in shape. All the makings of a .300 hitter with 40/120 foundation in home runs and RBI. The question comes to buying his direction or expecting some fade after a big season.

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4. DH J.D. Martinez

Based on his previous two seasons, Martinez was slightly overpriced in 2019 due to regression across the board in his stats. He hit over .300 for the fourth straight season while maintaining a high contact batting average (.400). Boston’s lineup in front and behind him in the batting order led to fewer RBI chances (410 – 440 in 2018) and a slide in his run rate (40) for the second year in a row. 

His bat dominated lefties (.404 with 19 HRs and 40 RBI over 141 at-bats). Surprisingly, Martinez played better on the road (.333 with 18 HRs and 62 RBI over 294 at-bats) than at home (.274 with 18 HRs and 48 RBI over 316 at-bats). August was his best month (.394 with 10 HRs and 29 RBI), but he struggled in September (.228 with three HRs and 13 RBI). 

His strikeout rate (21.0) was a career low while setting his highest level in walks (11.0 percent). Martinez has strength in his HR/FB rate (23.4), but it is trending down (33.8 in 2017 and 29.5 in 2018). His swing did have more loft in 2015 (fly ball rate – 43.5) and 2017 (43.2). More of the same (.300/40/120) while losing some value in drafts (ADP – 23). In 2019, Martinez finished as the 23rd ranked hitter by SIscore (3rd in 2018). 

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5. SS Xander Bogaerts

Over the past two years, Bogaert transitioned from a good player to a stud. He set career highs in runs (110), doubles (52), HRs (33), and RBI (117). His RBI rate (19 – 20 in 2018) has been elite in back-to-back seasons while showing growth in his approach (strikeout rate – 17.5 and walk rate – 10.9) and his contact batting average (.386). 

Bogaerts shined at Fenway (.316 with 23 HRs and 80 RBI over 449 at-bats). He hit .299 or more each of the last five months (.314, .313, .346, .299, and .315). In 2019, he had most of his at-bats (317) hitting third in the batting order followed up by fifth (152) and fourth (91). His growth in power came from an improved fly-ball rate (39.8 – 34.2 in his career) and a rising HR/FB rate (16.7 – career-high). Boston has depth and strength in their batting order, which gives Bogaerts a chance at delivering an edge in runs and RBI depending on where he hits in 2020. Last year, Boston had big years from Devers and Bogaerts while Betts and Martinez regressed. 

Based on last year’s value in SIscore (14th), he looks underpriced in drafts considering his ADP (36). A rising player with plenty of talent surrounding him in Boston. Buy his floor of 200 combined runs and RBI with an edge in batting average and possible growth in power.

Use coupon code EDGE25 to receive 25% off your monthly season-long subscription. Shawn Childs is a 5-time high-stakes fantasy baseball national champ. Gain a cash-winning edge with FullTime Fantasy.

READ MORE: 2020 Boston Red Sox Team Outlook

Pitching Staff

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SP1 Chris Sale

Sale could be the most difficult player to evaluate in 2020 for fantasy owners. He’s coming off his worst season in the majors, but he did maintain a high strikeout rate (13.3) with only a slight step back in his walk rate (2.3). Batters drilled his mistakes over the fence (1.5 HR per nine – 0.9 over his first nine years in the majors), but they only hit .221 against him (.218 in his career). Sale allowed 23 of his 24 HRs against right-handed batters with regression against lefties (.247 BAA). 

His season started with 18 bad innings (8.50 ERA and 1.56 WHIP). Over his next 12 starts, Sale went 3-2 with a 2.44 ERA and 124 Ks over 77.1 innings while allowing only seven home runs. He struggled in six of his final nine starts, leading to a 5.88 ERA and 12 HRs allowed over 52 innings. Even with failure, Sale did have 80 Ks with batters hitting only .243 against him. In August, he had a platelet-rich injection in his left elbow. Boston expects him back for spring training. His AFB (93.8) was below 2017 (95.1) and 2018 (95.57), but batters only hit .218 against his four-seam fastball. Sale lost the feel of his changeup (.279 BAA) compared to 2018 (.213). 

In early January, his ADP (40) is favorable. However, expect a lot of movement once he hits the mound in spring training. He could finish as a Cy Young winner or have his season cut short by Tommy John surgery. The range of outcomes is enormous. Easy to avoid if his elbow has any setbacks in March.

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SP2 Eduardo Rodriguez

Rodriguez stayed healthy the whole season for the first time in his career in 2019, helping him to set career highs in wins (19), innings pitched (203.1), and strikeouts (213). Even with success, he still has plenty of work to do to be considered a top arm in the majors. He led the American League in walks (75) with a fantasy-killing WHIP (1.328). Batters hit .253 against him, which was above his previous three seasons (.241, .241, and .238) with Boston. 

Rodriguez had risk versus lefties (.264 with nine HRs allowed over 163 at-bats). His attraction in 2020 will come from his stats over his final 18 starts (2.92 ERA and 116 Ks over 111 innings). He finished with an AFB (93.3) that ranked below each year with the Red Sox. Based on overall value in his pitches, Rodriguez was more attractive in 2018 (four-seam – .232, sinker – .239, changeup – .246, slider – .217, and cutter – .216) than last season (four-seam – .274, sinker – .205, changeup – .256, slider – .182, and cutter – .287). A big key to his progression last year came from a higher ground ball rate (48.5 – 38.7 in 2018) and fewer fly balls (32.5 percent – 41.2 in 2018). His success pushed him to SP2 in the 2020 draft season with an ADP of 131. 

Based on SIscore, Rodriguez ranked 24th in 2019, with wins being the driver of his value. A possible trap based on his walk rate (3.3), which dictates WHIP failure. Getting closer, but Rodriguez needs to shave off 15 walks while pitching the same number of innings. If he did, he would be tougher to hit, leading to more Ks. Next step: Sub 3.50 ERA with 225-plus Ks but needs to prove he can maintain a higher workload.

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CL/RP Brandon Workman

Workman emerged as the top option for saves in Boston over the second half of the year. Even with poor command (5.7 walks per nine), batters struggled to make contact against him (.123 BAA). Over five seasons in the majors, Workman went 24-16 with a 3.74 ERA and 295 Ks over 281.1 innings. He finished with a career-high in his strikeout rate (13.1), which was well above his career resume (9.4). Workman dominated both RH (.116 BAA) and LH ( .132 BAA) batters. Over the second half of the year, he had a 2.01 ERA with 49 Ks over 31.1 innings. His AFB (93.3) was a career-high with batters hitting .134 against it. Both his curveball (.135 BAA) and cutter (.077 BAA) offered an edge. If a fantasy owner can dismiss his poor command, Workman has the stuff to get batters out. More of a setup man long term with Boston expected to look for a better option long for saves.

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Use coupon code EDGE25 to receive 25% off your monthly season-long subscription. Shawn Childs is a 5-time high-stakes fantasy baseball national champ. Gain a cash-winning edge with FullTime Fantasy.

READ MORE: 2020 Boston Red Sox Team Outlook

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