After a long courtship, the Red Sox finally landed slugger J.D. Martinez this week. Although the deal has not been officially announced, it is reported that the two sides agreed on a five-year, $110 million contract. Boston struggled offensively last year, particularly in the power department. This move seemed inevitable, especially after the Yankees heisted NL MVP (and home run champ) Giancarlo Stanton from Derek Jeter’s Marlins earlier this winter.
The addition of Stanton isn’t the only change to the Yankees’ offense. They also parted ways with a pair of players who each logged over 470 plate appearances last year in Chase Headley and Starlin Castro. Todd Frazier — who started all 13 of the Bombers’ playoff games last October — is also gone.
The Yankees had one of the most potent offenses in baseball last year
In 2017, the Bronx Bombers led the majors with 241 home runs — only 15 teams in baseball history have hit more in a season. They also led the league in walks, were second in runs scored, third in on-base percentage and OPS, fourth in slugging average, and seventh in batting average. The Yankees led the AL East in each of those categories.
By contrast, Boston finished 27th in home runs (last in the AL), tenth in runs scored (sixth in the AL), and 22nd in OPS (11th in the AL). They also finished 14th in the league in slugging average, fifth in on-base percentage, and ninth in batting average. Despite being known as a speed-based team, Red Sox runners only swiped 16 more bases than their pinstriped rivals (106 to 90).
Here’s a glance at the offensive numbers for the AL East in 2017:
2017 AL East offense
The Yankees’ offense will be even better this year
Stanton brings his 7.6 WAR and MLB-leading 59 home runs to an already potent Yankees’ lineup. Now paired with AL MVP Award runner-up and ROY Aaron Judge, this marks only the fourth time in history that the defending home run champs in both leagues have been united on the same team. Judge and Stanton combined for 111 home runs and 15.7 WAR last year.
The club also hopes to get full seasons from Greg Bird and Aaron Hicks. Bird has shown tremendous promise, and projects to hit 34 home runs over a full season — if he can stay healthy. Hicks was having a breakout year in 2017 before being sidelined with a pair of oblique injuries for most of the second half. Brett Gardner (4.9 WAR), Gary Sanchez (4.1 WAR), and Didi Gregorius (3.7 WAR) are expected to continue playing an important part in the Yankees’ offense.
On the minus side, Headley (1.8 WAR), Castro (2.0 WAR), and Frazier (1.6 WAR) have departed. Noteworthy is that the trio combined for only 1.0 Win Above Average (WAA) last year. The Yankees have a number of players in the mix to take the two open infield spots.
While Miguel Andujar appeared to be the favorite to take over at third base, Brian Cashman announced that the newly acquired Brandon Drury will likely start the season there. Although there is a competition for second base, Gleyber Torres is widely expected to claim that spot sooner or later. Torres is Baseball America’s number six overall prospect, and could play himself into the ROY conversation. Others competing for infield playing time include Tyler Wade and Ronald Torreyes.
Below is one potential Yankees’ lineup with their 2017 stats. For Hicks and Bird, I projected what their numbers might have looked like over the full season if they had stayed healthy.
Yankees’ potential lineup
|9||Gleyber Torres (m)||R||2B||235||7||34||31||.287||.383||.480||.863|
The Red Sox also improved their lineup, but not enough
Aside from reaching a deal with Martinez, the Red Sox also re-signed Eduardo Nunez and Mitch Moreland. While Martinez figures to be in the lineup everyday, others like Moreland and Hanley Ramirez may have to compete for playing time. Here’s a look at what the ten Boston players who figure to get the most playing time did last year:
Red Sox 2018 lineup
Obviously, Martinez instantly becomes the centerpiece of Boston’s lineup, and the Red Sox will certainly put up more runs with him in it. Is it enough for Beantown to claim the mantle of best offense in the division? Absolutely not. Not even close. The other three teams are extremely weak and even appear directionless, so the East is shaping up to be a two-dog fight.
The Blue Jays acquired Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz, while they appear to be parting ways with free agent Jose Bautista. The Orioles made only minor moves, including signing Colby Rasmus, who missed the 2017 campaign. Baltimore even lost a couple of their own players that they reportedly wanted to keep, due to apparent confusion in the front office. The Rays, meanwhile, look like they are fully committed to tanking. Tampa jettisoned its four best offensive players in Logan Morrison, Evan Longoria, Corey Dickerson, and Steven Souza.
It’s clear that the Yankees’ offense will be the envy of the division this season. Even with the two open questions at the bottom of the batting order, the Bronx Bombers could potentially put up historic numbers in 2018.