2014 Predictions

Woah. Been a while. But I've got thoughts a few things lined up. But might as well get the predictions on paper.

I really like the Sox off season. I know I'm not alone here, but Hahn made some really nice moves, selling 'high' and buying 'low' across the board. Eaton, Abreu, Davidson... I like all those moves. But more on those later. I hate bringing back Konerko, but I don't think the baseball guys had too much of a say there. And it's not like the Sox are competing for the wild card or division this year. There are bigger 'wrongs' in the baseball world.

  • I think a lot of Sox fans, myself included, thought that the Sox pitching was very good last year. This is a tad misleading. Yes, they were 8th in fWAR in '13, but their ERA was fairly pedestrian. Both their FIP says they were lucky, while their xFIP says they were slightly unlucky.  All told, the Sox gave up the 10th most runs in the AL last year. That's actually not that good.
  • The Sox were a bit unlucky when it came to the home run ball last year. They finished one standard deviation above the mean in HR/9 and had a HR/Fly Ball rate of 11.5% which was also above average. Yes, the Cell is a good hitting park, but it isn't incorrect to think the Sox can actually see some regression in home runs given this year.
  • Their strikeout and walk rates were both slightly above league average, but nothing that should scare anyone (or get overly excited about). I see them improving on their ground ball rate, and moving on from both Santiago and Peavy probably should help (Reed too).
  • Erik Johnson, if he can fit a bit more control, should really be a nice starting pitcher. Paulino had a really nice 2011, if he's healthy and Coop does Coop things... I can easily see the Sox rotation actually being better.
  • I'm making an educated guess more than running some sort of model here... I see the Sox giving up between 680-720 runs. I know that's a wide range, but I kind of think they'll be better in part because they won't be running guys out there in August and September just to see what they have.

  • The Sox offense was awful last year, no need to dwell on it. So the first move of the winter was to sign Abreu. Yay. The second was to bring back Konerko. This made negative sense. "HEY KIDS, COME SEE PAULIE GO 0-4 WITH TWO STRIKEOUTS AND A WEAK POP OUT TO THE FIRST BASEMAN!!!" That's where I thought the 2014 Sox where headed.
  • Then Kevin Towers called.
  • I can't stress how much I love the Eaton and Davidson moves. I'm overly bullish on both. Davidson’s K% should worry me more, but I’m forgiving because the power is real. Eaton was a great buy low by Hahn.
  • Abreu’s gonna get it done. Everything points to him having a number of nice seasons on the South Side.
  • Gushing about those three aside, the Sox are a bit of a mess after this. Viciedo isn’t an everyday major league player. I really do hope the Beckham to New York rumors come true. Garcia’s gotta start walking if he’s going to be a decent major league player. Catching is a black hole. Konerko is done. Dunn is Dunn, the less he plays in the field, the more value he’ll give the Sox.
  • The Sox did everything horrible last year. They didn’t get on base, they didn’t score runs, they didn’t walk… but I see hope. Eaton will walk. Dunn takes walks. I think Abreu will take a base. Davidson, when he arrives, will take a walk. De Aza’s walk rate isn’t offensive… I think the Sox will put more guys on base and thus score more runs.
  • I see the Sox scoring 650 runs this year. This might be bullish, it’s a 50 run improvement. But Vicideo should never see a righty this year. Dunn won’t see many lefties. Abreu alone is should be a huge improvement over Konerko. Eaton should be on base.
All this said, the two big things to watch, imo, will be how Ventura handles the lineup and if the team defense shows improvement. Defense first... it was bad last year. If it improves—and I think it will with Dunn, Konerko, and Vicideo all seeing less time in the field—the Sox might even get those runs allowed closer to 650. That would mean the Sox are a .500 team. I’m not ready to go there, but I can see things ‘breaking’ were they finish above .500.

However, I have little faith in Robin. Last year’s team was bad and made way too many mistakes. If he's giving Viciedo at bats against righties, or Dunn starts against a tough lefty, I'm going to start openly question if Ventura's a major league manager. The Sox are deeper this year, they can play the match-up game every day. Robin needs to show that he can do this.

So all said… I’ve got the Sox winning 75-78 games. I’ll go 77-85.

MLB Predictions:
AL East: Tampa
AL Central: Detroit
AL West: Angels 
Wild Cards: Boston and Baltimore

I don't really like the Angels, but they're not has hurt as the Rangers or A's. I could see those three teams plus Seattle winning the West. That division is sort of a mess. I'm not buying the Tribe again and I don't see the pitching or hitting for the Royals. They'll both be better than the Sox however. Tampa is more of a feeling than anything, same with the O's. 

NL East: Washington
NL Central: St. Louis
NL West: Los Angeles 
Wild Cards: Giants and Reds

Man the NL is top heavy. I have zero faith in that Reds pick, but I think the pitching will be good enough to hold off a banged up Braves team and regressed Pirates. I could maybe see the Mets surprising people? I don't know... very very top heavy league.

World Series:
Dodgers over Rays

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