Third Base: Pablo Sandoval
It is easy to wonder what the Red Sox were thinking when they signed Pablo Sandoval to a 5-year, $95 million deal last offseason. The Sox thought they were getting a solid defender at the hot corner who would hit .275 with 15-20 home runs and 65-80 RBI, but what they did get was an overweight, under-producing, and lazy player. Sandoval entered spring training last year looking like a parade float who was thoroughly enjoying any buffet he could get his hands on with his new money. On the field, he looked even worse. Sandoval abandoned switch hitting, after a brutal 0-40-something stretch from the right side of the plate, and no longer was able to drive the ball anywhere in the field. He finished his 126-game season with a .245/.292/.366 line with 10 home runs and 47 runs batted in. With his average, on base, and slugging percentage having steadily declined every year since 2011, things do not look promising for Pablo. Recently the Red Sox said that he lost 20 pounds but his commitment to this season remains to be seen.
Projected 2016 Stats: .253/.303/.388 12 HR, 54 RBI
ShortStop: Xander Bogaerts
Xander enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2015. He posted a .320/.355/.421 with 7 home runs, 81 runs batted in, and 10 steals. Bogaerts also showed vast improvement in the field during his first full season as the Red Sox shortstop. Xander will look to build on last season as he hits in the middle of the order and becomes the cornerstone of the Red Sox franchise. The only downside to Bogaerts' breakout season was that he seemingly forgot how to hit for power and settled for punching singles to the opposite field. While that is not a trait that you would like for a number three hitter, the Red Sox have very few options that can produce steady results like Xander can. Xander should take a step forward again with his overall play while seeing a slight regression with his batting average.
Projected 2016 Stats: .311/.344/.445 20 HR, 90 RBI, 11 steals
Second Base: Dustin Pedroia
The heart and soul of the Red Sox has had trouble staying healthy the last couple of years. While some of the injuries that have held him back have been just bad luck, you have to wonder if he may be starting to break down. Pedroia put up solid numbers last season when he played with a .291/.356/.441 line with 12 home runs and 42 runs batted in but only made it into 93 games. Pedroia still plays gold glove defense at second base and hearing everyone say he is on the back nine of his career will only make the chip on his shoulder bigger. Pedroia will be penciled into the number two spot in the batting order and will surely want to remain healthy as David Ortiz passes the torch to him as the face of the Red Sox.
Projected 2016 Stats: .299/.358/.432 16 HR, 71 RBI, 7 steals
First Base: Hanley Ramirez
Hanley forgot to buy a first base mitt, a helpful tool when you are trying to prove that you not only can play first base, but also showing you actually care about trying to improve. Hanley Ramirez is the black hole of this team. The fact that so many of the Red Sox players, especially the young ones, talk about how great he is should frighten every Red Sox fan. Ramirez was on fire when the season started last year. He was hitting the baseball all over the field with authority. However, when he unnecessarily ran into the outfield wall and hurt his shoulder, he never recovered. After hitting 10 home runs in April, he only hit 9 the rest of the season. Hanley was lost in the outfield, he never put in the work to try and get better, and it was easy to see why the Dodgers made no effort to re-sign him last offseason. The Red Sox should not expect anything different from Hanley this year. He showed up to spring training looking in shape physically, but not having his own mitt to learn a new position, showed he has not changed at all mentally. Luckily, the Red Sox only have to deal with Hanley in the field for one more season before they can make him a permanent DH in 2017.
Projected 2016 Stats: .275/.312/.430 20 HR, 69 RBI, 8 steals
Designated Hitter: David Ortiz
David Ortiz enters his final MLB season trying to defy age again in post the tenth 30 home run and 100 RBI season of his career. Ortiz will enjoy the farewell tour that Jeter got last season and collect his various, albeit useless, gifts along the way, but his best gift would be another ring at the end of the season. As much as everyone has tried to predict the downfall of Ortiz due to age, every year he proves them wrong. Whether this year is the year he finally succumbs to age will not matter much to fans. Ortiz has carved his name into MLB fame as the best DH-of-all-time, sorry Edgar Martinez, and should hopefully find his way to Cooperstown in 2021. Ortiz will ride off into the sunset with another quality season.
Projected 2016 Stats: .266/.354/.521 31 HR, 101 RBI
Also in the Infield Mix
Brock Holt, Deven Marrero, Travis Shaw, Allen Craig, Josh Rutledge