Betts enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2015. He posted a slash line of .291/.341/.479 while scoring 92 runs with 18 home runs, 77 runs batted in, 21 steals, and 42 doubles. Betts spent the majority of the season in center field, learning a new position after being a second baseman for the vast majority of his minor league career, and he more than held his own out there.
As the 2016 season opens, Betts will be moving to right field and he will be hoping his transition is as smooth as last year's. Mookie should find himself at the top of the lineup again this year and will have to avoid the sophomore slump in his second full year. Betts was a huge part of the youth movement that overtook the Red Sox late last summer and his continued growth will be key to the Sox moving up the standings this season. Mookie has been a popular sleeper MVP candidate by many writers and some see him hitting the 30/30 mark this season. Having Betts perform like he did last year will provide the Red Sox with a consistent bat at the top of the lineup night in and night out.
Projected 2016 Stats: .288/.340/.465 21 HR, 82 RBI, 24 steals
Jackie Bradley Jr.
JBJ is one of the best, if not already the best, defenders in center field in all of baseball. This means that he will push Mookie Betts off his spot and reclaim being the voice of the outfield. The key to Bradley Jr. sticking in lineup and bringing his outstanding defense to the field every night will be his ability to hit. There were parts of last season that Jackie was impossible to get out, but the lows with him have been as great as the highs.
In only 74 games last season Bradley hit .249/.335/.498 with 10 home runs, 43 runs batted in, and 3 steals. If he can produce anywhere near this pace over the full season, the Red Sox will be a very happy and competitive team. Bradley will hit towards the bottom of the lineup, so nobody should be expecting him to put up outstanding numbers, coupled with his inconsistency at the dish, and John Farrell's apparent lack of faith in trotting him out to the field everyday and the Red Sox could have the recipe for disaster. However, Bradley looked to find his stride at the end of last season and hopefully that confidence should carry over to this season where he really should not have to worry about securing a job when spring training rolls around.
Projected 2016 Stats: .244/.333/.412 12 HR, 61 RBI, 10 steals
This is the make or break year for Rusney Castillo. Now entering the third year of the deal he signed coming from Cuba, Castillo has shown next to nothing. Playing in 80 games last season he slashed .253/.288/.359 with 5 home runs, 29 runs batted in, and 4 steals. Castillo came out of Cuba with dreams of him being a 20/20 guy, but he has proven he may be more of a 15/10 guy with little average and plus defense.
Castillo will play left field this season and will be a substantial defensive upgrade while replacing Hanley Ramirez in front of the Green Monster, but his bat will determine whether or not he sticks on the field. Castillo has shown little plate discipline and he does not hit for enough power to justify that. Most people thought that the signing of Chris Young would be a safety net for JBJ, but he may be just as big as an insurance policy for Rusney as well. Castillo will be given plenty of opportunities to prove he belongs, but his defense in left is not great enough to overshadow an under-developing bat.
Projected 2016 Stats: .248/.301/.399 12 HR, 49 RBI, 15 steals
Also in the Outfield mix: Brock Holt, Chris Young, Allen Craig, Brennan Boesch
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