It’s April and there is no baseball. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined saying that. April outside of October is the favorite time of the year for most sports fans. From hockey season winding down and heading into the most exciting playoffs in sports to the NBA winding down as well to the NFL Draft, and of course, the MLB season starting. Therefore, for the next 8 weeks, I will try to entertain you and give you some knowledge along the way and I will be previewing each team by division giving my analysis of the team and ending with breakout, bust, and MVP for each team from a fantasy perspective. First up is the Boston Red Sox in the daunting AL East.

Unfortunately for all of New England, this last year has been rough. Losing in the Stanley Cup Finals, losing Tom Brady, and losing the beloved Mookie Betts (and David Price) to the LA Dodgers which all but effectively ended the chances of the Sox competing for a World Series ring. However, in New England, there is always still hope to compete with the likes of Raffy Devers, Xander Bogaerts, JD Martinez, a stud in the making Eduardo Rodriguez, and of course Chris Sale. Then sports tragedy struck again in New England when the news feed came across our phones with the news that Chris Sale was done for the year and possibly longer with Tommy John Surgery. Yes, this year will not be the Red Sox year. Fortunately, this team is still packed with talent that all of us DFS pros and year-long fantasy league players. The aforementioned offensive trio with the addition of Alex Verdugo (the key acquisition in the Moonie Betts deal) should provide for a lot of points this entire MLB season. Not to mention breakout star Christian Vazquez very likely repeating the numbers he put up last year. To round out the offense, you have Andrew Benintendi, a personal favorite of mine in the OF who should absolutely be looked at as a mid-round bounce back fantasy pick after a disappointing year and a guy that will be more widely used this year as part of Boston stacks in DFS GPP (guaranteed player pool) tournaments with him very likely hitting in front of that mega trio. I am not a huge fan of Michael Chavis, but a fan nonetheless, even with him hitting 7th or 8th in this offensive dynamo even after the loss of Mookie Betts. He is a great late-round flier with his multi-position eligibility at 1B/2B and will surely be used in a lot of Boston stacks in DFS with his price point on most days. This Sox team will rack up a lot of points for everyone this year. 

Breakout Player(s)

Eduardo Rodriguez and Alex Verdugo

This was a tough choice, so instead of making a choice, I am just going to give you two players that will breakout. I am sure a lot of you will say that E-Rod broke out last year, which is true, but this kid will become a well-known quantity on the DFS/Fantasy market even more so by years end. He made greats strides across the board last year. He had a 3.7 WAR/3.86 FIP/4.1 xFIP with a 9.4 k/9 and a 2.84 K/BB ratio. The most glaring jump from last season was with his GB and FB rates. He had a 10% jump in his GB rate which was at 48% and his FB rate dramatically went down to 32%. There is so much to love about an SP that already strikes out batters at a high rate and then learns how to get groundballs. The Sox pitching staff has always been tremendous in working with talented young SP. He also made dramatic leaps in his pitch values with 3 of his pitches (wFA/wSI/wCH) by putting up 6+ value for each of those pitches for the year. E-Rod will only continue to improve (hopefully with his slightly high BB rate) and provide you with tremendous value throughout the year.

There is still an unknown aspect about Alex Verdugo given his limited amount of PA last year with the Dodgers, but he has always been a top prospect of theirs and showed a lot of promise while in the lineup. Even with limited playing time, he still accumulated 2.2 WAR and had a .341 wOBA w a league average .180 ISO. He doesn’t walk a lot with a 6+% bb rate but he also doesn’t strike out a lot with a 13+% k rate. This kid puts the ball in play. With an increase in PA, hitting atop the Sox lineup with JDM, Bogaerts, and Devers hitting behind him, he will provide a lot of value as a mid-round pick. He will be a lock-in almost every Boston stack depending on the slate. Look for Verdugo to outperform his draft position this year and price point on DFS most days. 

Bust

Martin Perez

This was not an easy choice on the other hand. If you are not keen on Andrew Benintendi or Michael Chavis, you could have plugged them in as a “Bust” and there are solid arguments for both players. However, with David Price and Chris Sale out of the Sox rotation, look for Martin Perez to get even more innings thrown his way. He had a pretty good start to the year with a sub .300 wOBA and was a popular pick up in fantasy leagues and was chosen as a value play in DFS tournaments when his starts came up. However, the bottom just fell out with a second-half wOBA of .382 to end the year with a 4.66 FIP/4.69 xFIP. He may look intriguing especially with a plus cutter (13.8 pitch value with a 30% usage rate) but he is one pitch SP. Avoid him. 

MVP

Raffy Devers

This kid can hit! If you watched any Red Sox games last year, you know how talented Devers is and at only 23 years old. He accumulated a 5.9 WAR/.377 wOBA/.244 ISO/.407 wOBA v RHP with 90 XBH. He will be even more of a focal point in the Sox offense this year. Look for the production to go up across the board. Easy top 25 picks in year-long fantasy leagues and will be the starting point with any Boston GPP stack.