For the love of all that’s good, Jacoby, please watch out for walls, ranging infielders, and clumsy Rays’ shortstops this season.
(Photo by Keith Allison on Flickr)

Part 1: The Pitchers 

Part 2: The Batters

Part 3: The League (2/7)

The same disclaimers apply: 

1) Please feel free to bookmark them and come back later in September/October to see how I did — you know that if I hit on a few you’re going to hear about it.

2) Before you waste your keyboard clicks hating me, please know that I will be rooting for some of these predictions and against some others, but it wouldn’t be much fun (or very accurate) if I only predicted good things to happen this season.

The Batters Predictions

  • Jacoby Ellsbury will go all season without a trip to the disabled list.
  • Every time Jacoby runs near a wall, a teammate, or an opposing fielder I will cringe and hold my breath in a way that’s generally reserved for seeing small children run out into traffic.
  • Ellsbury won’t reach his 8.0 WAR of 2011 (because I don’t think we’ll see him get to 30+ HR again), but he will be worth 5-6 wins and notch his second Gold Glove in the last 3 years. (He’ll also parlay that season into a 8 year deal with the highest bidder, that Boston will refuse to match, but hey let’s focus on the positives here! Go chew on crushed glass, Scott Boras.)
  • Will Middlebrooks will hit 30+ HR.
  • Middlebrooks will also strike out 150+ times.
  • Pencil Pedroia in for 150 games and a .300 average. If you didn’t already know what kind of a player and leader he is, how he played in August (.342/.403/.538) while the rest of the team was putting a big fat stamp on the season and mailing it in, should have solidified that for you. This guy loves the game, respects the job, and shows up ready to go every single day. Give him the “C” already!
  • Mike Napoli will play 125 or less games but still manage to hit 25 HR and keep his average around .260.
  • Napoli needs to be active for a minimum of 165 days of the season to see his salary jump from $5 million to $13 million. At some point during the year he will be put on the DL and then publicly question the move, insisting that he’s not actually injured. The post 2011 fiscally-minded Sox aren’t just going to let $8 million walk out the door if they don’t absolutely need to.
  • I’ll blame Larry Lucchino for the Napoli/DL mess because I blame him for all of the things that I don’t like inside the organization. It’s really great, you should try it. Every movie needs a bad guy, and for me it’s Larry.
  • Jonny Gomes will top 20 HR for the season.
  • Gomes will also have stretches in the field that remind us all way too much of the Manny Ramirez Experience.
  • If Jarrod Saltalamacchia and David Ross end up splitting the catching duties (I still am not entirely convinced that Salty isn’t getting moved before the season begins) Boston’s pitchers’ ERA will be more than a full run lower when Ross is behind the dish.
  • Salty will put up another stat line that reminds me way too much of Rob Deer in his “prime” (2012 saw his home run total spike to 25 but with a .222 average and 139 strikeouts).
  • Way too many of you will click on Rob Deer’s Baseball Reference page and be horrified by his statistics. Let’s just say that he wasn’t on Billy Beane’s list for potential A’s players in Moneyball.
  • If you can get over Stephen Drew being the little brother of our old friend JD, you will really enjoy the Drew experience this year.
  • I’d peg Drew’s stat line somewhere similar to his 2010 season, .275, 15 HR.
  • He’ll also play decent enough defense up the middle that you won’t miss seeing Mike Aviles trying to hold the position down, but you’ll still gleefully daydream about what it would be like to see Jose Iglesias’ glove on a daily basis.
  • Shane Victorino won’t be Phillies good, but he won’t be Dodgers bad.
  • David Ortiz will lead the team in home runs, again.
  • Sandwiching Ortiz between two righties like Pedoria and Napoli (as an example, John Farrell, just in case you happen to be reading this) will cause a lot of opposing managers to burn their lefty bullpen specialist for only one batter.
  • I will continue to be puzzled at why managers insist on throwing lefty specialists against Ortiz in high leverage situations when he has absolutely chewed them up the last two seasons (.329 avg, 8 HR in 2011, .320 avg., 9 HR in 2012).
  • The Red Sox will be a .600 team against left-handed starters.
  • All 9 of the projected lineup regulars will reach double digit home runs, the first time that has happened for the Sox since the vaunted 2003 lineup of Jason Varitek (25), Kevin Millar (25), Todd Walker (13), Nomar Garciaparra (28), Bill Mueller (19), Manny Ramirez (37), Johnny Damon (12), Trot Nixon (28), and David Ortiz (31).