Can Boston Pull Off Another Worst to First in 2016?

After a 2013 worst to first World Series win in Boston, they have finished in the cellar two straight seasons. David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
After a 2013 worst to first World Series win in Boston, they have finished in the cellar two straight seasons.
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Red Sox are known as one of the greatest and most legendary franchises in sports, but the last few years haven't shown it. Boston finished 2012 with a 69-93 record, 2013 with a 97-65 record (World Series win against the St. Louis Cardinals), 2014 with a 71-91 record, and in 2015 for the third time in four years finished in dead last with a 78-84 record. Boston's 2015 roster looked great on paper, and many thought they could again go worst to first; unfortunately that did not work out at all. As of today, the 2016 Boston team has potential to go worst to first, but what's different about the 2015 and 2016 teams?

2015 Red Sox 

The Red Sox offense in 2015 was certainly not the problem, despite disappointing seasons from big name newcomers Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. The Red Sox offense ranked 6th in all of baseball in batting average (.265), 15th in homeruns (161), 4th in RBI (706), 4th in runs scored (748), 5th in on base percentage (.325), and 7th in slugging percentage (.415). Boston had a surplus of young players pick up the slack, and with Hanley hopefully returning to health in 2016, the offense is in great shape.

Pitching was one of the two downfalls of the 2015 Boston season. Boston ranked 25th in team E.R.A. (4.31), gave up the 6th most runs (753), 7th most homeruns (178), ranked 25th in opponents batting average (.264), and allowed the 14th most walks (478). But it was not just the Red Sox weak starting rotation, the bullpen was terrible as well. Boston had the fourth worst bullpen E.R.A. at 4.24, gave up the 8th most runs (258), the most homeruns (76), and blew 21 save opportunities. What has Boston done to fix the problem? As far as the bullpen is concerned, they have added two of the most elite relievers in baseball with the trades that brought them Craig Kimbrel and Carson Smith. Last year with Seattle, Smith posted a 2.31 E.R.A. in 70 games, along with allowing opponents to hit just .194 against him. Everybody in the baseball world knows who Craig Kimbrel is, one of the best, if not the best closer in baseball. 2015 was Kimbrel's career worst year, which is saying a lot considering he boasted a 2.58 E.R.A. and converted 39/43 save opportunities. To shore up the rotation, Boston made one of the biggest splashes of the offseason so far, making David Price the highest paid pitcher in baseball history. Boston also acquired a young starter from Seattle in Roenis Elias. Elias has been solid over two seasons as a Mariner and could wind up being a quiet, but big boost at the back end of the Red Sox rotation. These additions do not push them anywhere close to a top pitching staff, but it should suffice. Should the Red Sox be in a close title race come the 2016 trading deadline, expect them to be a big player in trading for a starting pitcher. 

The second downfall of the 2015 Red Sox was deffense. Boston had the 22nd worst fielding percentage, and comitted the 8th most errors, resulting in 22 unearned runs scored against them. Unfortunately, deffense isn't such an easy fix. In baseball, you can't simply sign one or two people and expect your team to be golden on the field. Time will tell if Boston can leave their deffensive, and pitching struggles in 2015. I personally fully expect Boston to at least finish second in the A.L. East if not first, and nothing would be more fitting to close out the career of David Ortiz than his fourth World Series win.