Boston Red Sox
Biggest Loss: Kyle Schwarber
As a trade deadline acquisition, Kyle Schwarber was a huge part of a 2021 Red Sox team that made it all the way to the ALCS. In his limited time with the Sox, Schwarber posted a 154 OPS+ over 168 plate appearances to go along with seven homers, adding three more in the postseason. Despite some pretty significant defensive deficiencies, Schwarber was arguably the team’s most valuable player at the plate in the second half of the season, which he was able to leverage into a big contract with the Phillies. His presence as a lefty power-bat was invaluable down the stretch and the Sox will almost certainly miss him.
Biggest Addition: Trevor Story
As much as it hurts to lose Schwarber, bringing in Trevor Story really softens that blow. The Red Sox recently signed the former Rockies shortstop to a six-year, 140 million dollar contract, and despite a down year in 2021, I think he’s worth every penny. Story got off to a rocky start this past season (pun not intended), but bounced back, posting an .843 second-half OPS. Prior to that though, Story was a consistently top-tier hitter, with elite defence at a premium position. When he’s playing well, he’s a true five-tool player, and should really elevate the Red Sox roster. It’s unclear whether he’ll have to move to second base to accommodate Xander Bogaerts or not yet, but no matter where he’s playing, expect Trevor Story to be a problem for the Blue Jays in years to come.
Breakout Candidate: Bobby Dalbec
The Red Sox young first baseman got off to a very rough start in 2021, but got hot down the stretch, putting himself in line to be the Red Sox starter come April. The 26-year-old absolutely raked in the second half, posting a 153 OPS+ and 15 homers in 61 games. He still needs to improve his plate discipline, as he struck out 156 times with just 28 walks, but even if he remains in that range, his raw power should make up for it.
In 2021, he was in the 91st percentile for average exit velocity per baseball savant, and doing that from the right side of the plate should play well in Fenway. Mix in that fact that he’ll be in a lineup filled with other good hitters, and you’ve got one of baseball’s best power hitters in the making.