Predicting this year’s team could be tricky based on how many things are dependent on people getting better and healthy. I’m going to do something a little bit different and look at each significant player or groups of players in some cases and give a low and high prediction as well as an expected prediction. Then look at the results as the most likely high point or low point for the team. Obviously, to reach this high point, literally everything would have to go right, which never happens. So the true best case scenario will be somewhat lower than this. Same thing applies for the low.
Player: lowest conceivable WAR-highest conceivable WAR, predicted WAR
Cano: 3.0-7.5, 4.5 Using a little bit less than his career high for the max, and the low is a win lower than his career low, but still a win above average. Even if he misses significant time for the first time ever, the fallback plan is still probably above average.
Seager: 1.5-5.0, 3.5 Seager could really breakout, or he could conceivably get worse. Even if that happens, thirdbase should still be at least around average.
Miller/Franklin: 1.5-4.5, 3.0 Though neither is proven, the combination prevents too much of a low end. It’s possible that both will end up having a horrid year, but not as likely, so hard to see SS being much below average even though nothing is proven here.
Zunino/Buck: 0.5-3.0, 1.5 Last year’s catchers had a WAR of -0.1. This combination will certainly be better than that, but can’t see it being too terrific.
Smoak/Morrison/Hart: (1.0)-7.0, 3.0 These are all big question marks and play similar positions. As currently constructed, they might end up all starting, though it’s hard to imagine a good scenario in which there is more than one fulltime starter among this group. The best that could happen is Hart reverts to 2011 form and one of the other two figures it out. The worst is 2 Smoaks and a yearlong 60 day DL stint.
Ackley/Saunders/Guti/Almonte: 0.5-8.0, 4.0 The rest of the outfield. Lots of question marks here as well, but it seems like fewer answers. Even if Ackley figures it out, he’s not as valuable now as an outfielder. And Saunders seems like he should be platooned, but then there’s Morrison who is even higher on the should be platooned list.
Bloomquist: (0.5)-1.0, 0.0 Not sure why I’m giving him his own category, but I don’t imagine it matters all that much. Consider this to include any other random bench players that end up on the team over the season.
Batters: 5.0-43.5, 19.5 I was careful with the categories that could spill over into other areas to not add to consider the best and worse case scenarios. For example, the best outfield probably involves some platoon between the S/M/H group and the A/S/G/A group, so I picked what I thought were the best two options from each and then added a half a win to a win for the platoon half. I made similar considerations for the worst case scenarios.
If absolutely everything breaks right here, this team would be better hitters than the Red Sox from last year. That’s not going to happen, but I think every one of my highs listed here is a possibility. It’s just the combination of possibilities that is unlikely: getting lucky nine times in a row. The good news is that using this same criterion, the worst possible scenario will not be as bad as last year actually was. This is not just because of Cano, but because there are more contingency plans: there’s not Ackley, Smoak and Montero without any other option should they fail. There’s Zunino but there’s also Buck, Smoak and Morrison, Miller and Franklin. I think this raises the floor a bit if something does go wrong, and in many cases raises the ceiling, too.