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Boston Red Sox 2022: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox

Rafael Devers and the Red Sox look to maintain the momentum after making it to the ALCS last season

The 2022 Red Sox should live by one mantra: Keep it going. Overlooked and underestimated last season, they instead secured 92 wins and a playoff berth, dispatching the Yankees and Rays before falling two games shy of the World Series. In the process, they reignited Fenway Park, where raucous crowds gave their playoff run more of a 2004 feel than even their 2018 title. Maintaining that momentum in what remains the nascent stages of a rebuild won't be easy. For one, they're not sneaking up on anyone again. For another, the Rays remain formidable; the Blue Jays seem poised to explode; and the Yankees usually find a way. The Red Sox rode a versatile roster that vastly surpassed the sum of its parts to unexpected heights. Reprising that success is by no means a given.

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Red Sox

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"I'm eager to see if Garrett Whitlock takes to the rotation; if he can make the transition, he could give them a heck of a young trio with Tanner Houck and Nick Pivetta, who just pounds the strike zone. Add in that bulldog Nate Eovaldi, Chris Sale — who will finally be full-go again — and James Paxton in the second half, and that's a lot of quality arms in the rotation. The bullpen's a question, though, because as soon as they committed to Matt Barnes, he flopped in the second half, and Darwinzon Hernández didn't have the execution to match his nasty stuff. Kiké Hernández is an excellent defender, and there's so much intangible value to the energy he brings and his expectation of winning. Bobby Dalbec had an insane second half; he was the forgotten man in the playoffs, but he'll have a big year. Alex Verdugo is a great fit with the Green Monster because he uses the whole field so well, and no team gets production from the left side of the infield like Boston, with Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts."

Beyond the Box Score

Language barrier Kiké Hernández honed his reputation for being a character as a minor-leaguer when he spent half a season pretending he couldn't speak English for a gruff manager in the Astros system. He finally ended the ruse in the middle of a particularly tense team meeting by raising his hand and announcing, "I just want you to know that I speak perfect English and that I've been (expletive) with you this whole time." His comment drew uproarious laughter from his teammates — and his manager.

Boston Red Sox 2022 Baseball Cover

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Fenway favorite First baseman Bobby Dalbec grew up in Seattle repeatedly watching "Four Days in October," the ESPN documentary about the 2004 Red Sox rallying to beat the Yankees in the Curse-busting ALCS. He dreamed of experiencing that passion and then lived it when Fenway Park fans deafeningly chanted his name during the wild card win over those same Yankees. "It's crazy," Dalbec said. "I don't know what I did to deserve that."

Theme song The song that carried the Red Sox within just two games of the World Series isn't exactly your prototypical baseball anthem. Calum Scott's cover of Robyn's 2010 synth-pop hit "Dancing on My Own" found its way into the clubhouse via backup catcher Kevin Plawecki, who not only used it as his walk-up music, but also sang it every chance he got. After winning the first two rounds of the playoffs, his champagne-soaked teammates belted it out right along with him in a joyous singalong.

I'll have the check Red Sox batters find unique ways to celebrate hits. For half a season, they waved into the dugout in homage to former teammate Franchy Cordero, who had started the trend. But with the offense scuffling in the second half, they turned to more positive reinforcement in the form of the checkmark, employing the motion to signify a productive at-bat. Bloops and bleeders might not get checkmarks, but working the count, moving runners or lacing line drives did. The reward system coincided with the return of their relentless offense.

Patented trot Second baseman Christian Arroyo conjures images of Manu Ginobili on his home run trots, rounding third not with the traditional high- or low-five for his third base coach, but with a Euro-step and finger roll straight out of an NBA drive into the lane. "I grew up playing basketball," Arroyo says. "I'm just trying to have fun with it, and it just kind of happens, but I will say this — it does need some work. I'm not trying to slam dunk in a professional basketball game."

Projected Lineup

LINEUP

CF    Kiké Hernández (R)
RF    Alex Verdugo (L)
DH   J.D. Martinez (R)
SS    Xander Bogaerts (R)
3B    Rafael Devers (L)
2B    Trevor Story (R)
1B    Bobby Dalbec (R)
C     Christian Vázquez (R)
LF    Jarren Duran (L)

BENCH

C     Kevin Plawecki (R)
OF   Jackie Bradley Jr. (L)
INF  Jonathan Araúz (S)
INF  Christian Arroyo (R)

ROTATION

RHP    Nathan Eovaldi
LHP    Chris Sale
RHP    Nick Pivetta
LHP    Rich Hill
RHP    Michael Wacha

BULLPEN

RHP    Matt Barnes (C)
RHP    Garrett Whitlock
LHP    Jake Diekman
LHP    Josh Taylor
RHP    Tanner Houck
RHP    Ryan Brasier
LHP    Darwinzon Hernández
RHP    Hirokazu Sawamura

2022 Prediction: 4th in AL East