With spring training starting for most ballclubs this week, everyone in baseball is preparing for the upcoming season.
It’s not just teams making preparations, either. MLB Network released its list of the top 100 players in the league for 2021 this week. Even though the Red Sox finished with a poor 24-36 record in 2020, they still had four players included on the list.
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts was the highest-ranked Red Sox player on the list, coming in at 24th. He was the fifth-highest ranked shortstop on the list, trailing Fernando Tatis Jr. of the Padres, Francisco Lindor of the Mets, Trevor Story of the Rockies, and Corey Seager of the Dodgers.
Bogaerts’ high ranking shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. He hit .300 from the plate with 11 homers and had a .867 OPS in 2020, which were all good for at least the top six among shortstops in those stats.
The next highest-ranked Red Sox player was Rafael Devers, who came in at 65th. Devers was the 11th-highest ranked third baseman on the list. Like Bogaerts, Devers finished in the top five for third baseman in several stats. He had a .267 batting average and hit 11 homers to go along with a .793 OPS.
Alex Verdugo was the third-highest ranked Red Sox player on the list, slotting in at the 88th spot. While he was mostly known for the trade that brought him to the Red Sox, Verdugo put up solid numbers in his first season in Boston. He had a team-high .308 batting average and hit six home runs, finishing the year with a .844 OPS. He also had a team-high 2.2 WAR.
J.D. Martinez was the final Red Sox player to make the top 100. He came in at 98th, making him the sixth-highest ranked designated hitter on the list. Unlike his aforementioned teammates, Martinez struggled for much of the 2020 season. His .213 batting average was the lowest of his career, and his .680 OPS was the second-lowest of his career.
Having four hitters on the list is a good sign for the Red Sox’ offense in 2021. They actually led the AL with a .265 batting average in 2020 and were third in on-base percentage (.330), slugging (.445), and OPS (.776), showing that their offense isn’t their weakness.
Angels center fielder Mike Trout was ranked at the top of the list with Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts ranking second.
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