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BettorIQ’s MLB Preview: Boston Red Sox

MLB

BettorIQ continues with its 2020 MLB betting previews. We will be breaking down all 30 teams from a betting perspective leading up to the start of the season.

Boston Red Sox
2019 Record: 84-78
2019 Profits: -20.8 units
2020 Win Total: 30
2020 Odds to Win AL East: +1255
2020 Odds to Win AL Pennant: +1350
2020 Odds to Win World Series: +2800

Betting Positives: Despite the loss of Mookie Betts, the Red Sox still possess one of the stronger offenses in the American League. The lineup will be anchored by Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers and J.D. Martinez. Bogaerts broke out last season with a slash line of .309/.384/.555 and finished 5th in the American League’s MVP voting. Devers and Martinez both hit homered more than 30 times while generating wOBA numbers of .377 and .386, respectively. The main chip in the Betts trade was outfielder Alex Verdugo, who to date has hit at every level and looks ready to contribute. Of the teams in the AL and NL East, the Red Sox are projected to score 2nd most runs over the 60-game season, per PECOTA’s projections. Another potential positive is buying low. In 2018, Boston was one of the most profitable teams in MLB, earning over +40 units over the course of the regular and postseason. Last season, they fell well short of expectations, never threatened in the AL East, dropped over 20 units, and head in 2020 without arguably their top two players in Betts (traded) and Chris Sale (surgery). As a result, the betting markets and media are as down on the Red Sox as they have been in years. Since 2016, Boston has been on average a -150 moneyline favorite. Look for that number to be significantly lower, especially given the strength of the AL and NL East divisions.

Betting Negatives: There’s also some justification for so many being down on this year’s squad. Trading Betts and David Price smelled that of a small market team or one scrambling to offset years of heavy spending. The departure of Betts, who is entering his prime and clearly one of the best players in MLB, is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s also the loss of manager Alex Cora and Sale. Cora will serve a year-long suspension for his role in electronic sign stealing while Sale underwent Tommy John surgery. Without Sale, the starting rotation looks incredibly thin. Eduardo Rodriguez battled COVID-19 and won’t be ready for the start of the season. That leaves a host of mediocre arms in Nathan Eovaldi, Martin Perez, Ryan Weber and Brian Johnson. Even with a healthy Rodriguez in the fold, the Red Sox have baseball’s 24th ranked unit on paper. It’s a group that is not likely to be helped all that much by a league average defense either now that Betts is no longer patrolling spacious right field.

Handicapper’s Take: If the Red Sox are going to make any noise — or earn bettors consistent profits — they’ll have to do so by outscoring the competition. The question is will there being any value on the OVER? Last year’s team went OVER the total in over 57% of their games with an average total of 9.9. And that was with Sale and Price making a combined 47 starts. With no cold weather and no upper-tier starting pitchers, Boston’s totals will routinely be double-digits. With how competitive the AL and NL East project to be, there’s a real potential for a “tanked” season. The hope is the remaining talent can allow them to stick around but things will really need to break right in order for Boston to not wave the white flag at some point and turn its attention to 2021.