Could the 2021 Red Sox be a Blueprint

Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

I've referenced in some other comments and fanposts about last year's Giants being a blueprint for a quick turnaround to bounce back in 2022, but that seems like it'd pretty unrealistic given how much luck and skill combined it takes in free agent hunting. So I've decided to look at a different big market that also an annoying amount of recent rings in the Boston Red Sox.

The Red Sox won the 2018 World Series but were mediocre in 2019 and bad in 2020. Like the Twins now, they went into the offseason with a good looking offense and an extremely empty looking rotation. They went with low upside fillers and settled for an average to mediocre rotation that was just good enough to let the offense have a chance. And it led them to 92 wins and an ALCS appearance despite having 1 and 1/3 good starters. Basically, the Twins best shot may be replicating that and shooting for a Wild Card.

Boston finished with the 5th most runs in the AL last season. The Twins were only number 14, but we have a good shot to jump up to near the top with the guys we've got. Afterall, Buxton and Garver finished # 1 and 3 on the team in OPS+ while combining for just under 500 PAs. Get 800 out of them and that's a start. Andrelton Simmons took 451 PAs with a 57 OPS+ which is easily upgradable. Even Simmons himself returning would likely outhit that easily. If we get that stuff plus a breakout from at least one of Larnach and Kirilloff and our offense looks ready to jump to the level required to mask the pitching staff.

Boston only finished 18th in runs against per game, but it was good enough to let that top 5 offense win. Nathan Eovaldi pitched great as the number 1 with a 3.75 ERA, but starters 2-5 had ERAs of 4.74, 4.53, 4.97, and 4,74. People may point out that Eduardo Rodriguez's 3.32 FIP being excluded is cherrypicking, but I just don't find it relevant. While yes, it means he was possibly unlucky and ready to have a good 2022, this is just about trying to recreate the results of their season, so a predictive stat is irrelevant to that since it isn't how Boston got wins. That rotation had 1 good performer based on run prevention as well as 9 electric starts from a returning Chris Sale. However, 2-5 were all mediocre rather than bad, and that can play if you have a good offense. It is also extremely do-able to put that together in an offseason. Especially when pitchers with upside get all the attention from MLB teams, the Twins may be able to find unexciting veterans who are consistently playable for cheap and fill a rotation like that.

The hard part is finding an Eovaldi like performance to anchor things. If Maeda were healthy, that'd be the bet, but without him the best I can do is pray for a Joe Ryan or Dylan Bundy breakout. Otherwise, those 2 seem like solid bets for the OK starter role. Maybe Pineda resigning could work since he's had a 3.80 ERA since joining the Twins, although his hard hit rate jump scares me a little, although not enough to not resign him.

The one part of this blueprint I don't know how to recreate is that baseball reference gave the Red Sox the #3 ranked bullpen in the league. I don't know how we can get there, but maybe there's a way. Rogers is an alpha in the bullpen and that's always nice to have. Duffey also was one from 2019-20 but was only solid in 2021, which is still nice. If he's elite again, then having 2 studs makes things easier. If not, you need at least 6 nice dudes chipping in to have a good bullpen. Thielbar is good for one of those, as is Alcala who maybe has some more in him than that. But otherwise, it's a bunch of question marks and a lot needs to go right. That happened in 2019 and carried into 2020 before guys left and those who stayed imploded, so it's always possible.

So to conclude, what we need for this to happen is some health from our star bats, an extra breakout or 2 to take the offense to the next level, a good #2 caliber starter to anchor the rotation to be signed or breakout into one, the rotation to be filled with some steady but mediocre arms, and either a dominant Duffey or Alcala season or a bullpen of 6-7 dudes who are solid. That checklist may look long, but any checklist for a good team will be and these steps are all pretty attainable, we just need the front office to execute followed by the players doing their part.

Alos, if shooting for a rotation full of unexciting guys bums you out, feel free to dream on the 2023 rotation with Maeda, Balazovic, Ryan, SWR, Winder, Canterino, and Duran.