At the dawn of the 2017 Major League Baseball season, the Red Sox are looking like a legitimate World Series contender with one of the most well rounded rosters in the league.
With the addition of Chris Sale to David Price and reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello, Boston’s top three starters are a nightmare for opposing offenses.
The Red Sox offense packs quite a punch of its own though and much of it has to do with the rise of shortstop Xander Bogaerts and right fielder Mookie Betts.
Both 24-year-old stars are entering new territory in 2017 as the prime faces of the Red Sox lineup. Their largest source of protection, David Ortiz, retired after having the most successful season as a 40-year-old in MLB history with 38 home runs and 127 RBI.
While it remains to be seen how the two young bats of Boston’s lineup will respond with just Hanley Ramirez and Jackie Bradley as support, they certainly look capable of reproducing their stellar 2016 seasons.
Out of nowhere, Bogaerts developed into one of the top power-hitting shortstops in the league with 21 home runs and 89 RBI.His previous career high was 12 round trippers in 2014.
A lot of that can be attributed to his newfound strength. At a somewhat unassuming 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Bogaerts showed last year that he could get his hands inside and turn on the ball for power.
He’s not shy at the plate either, making contact with 67 percent of pitches thrown outside the strike zone, per FanGraphs.com.
It helped spark a 26-game hit streak, garner a first-ever All-Star Game selection and Silver Slugger Award.
Betts went to his first All-Star Game and won his first Silver Slugger as well, but he had a legitimate shot at becoming the 11th player in Red Sox history to win the American League MVP.
He launched 31 home runs and added 113 RBI with a .318 batting average, finishing second in the MVP voting behind Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
While those gaudy stats are impressive for a middle-of-the-order bat, it was even more impressive that most of those numbers came from the leadoff spot.
Betts has found a way to hit for power to all fields, making it difficult for opposing pitchers to key in on any one part of the zone.
No matter where they throw, he will most likely get a good swing on it.
With Ortiz gone, expect Betts to make his way down toward the middle of the lineup and possibly bat cleanup with Bogaerts in front of him. Given their youth and meteoric rise to the top of Major League Baseball, these new “Killer B’s” could be the headliners of another golden era in Boston.