Top Notes From the Boston Red Sox ZiPS Projections for 2024

The 2024 ZiPS projections at FanGraphs paint a picture of a Red Sox team desperate for the star power it once had.

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - SEPTEMBER 29: Rafael Devers #11 of the Boston Red Sox plays third base against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 29, 2023 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

Six years after they won a franchise-record 108 games and the World Series, the Boston Red Sox will be lucky to avoid a third consecutive last-place finish in the American League East in 2024.

Boston won 78 games a year ago, leading to the September dismissal of former chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom. However, Craig Breslow — the new CBO — has done little this offseason to make you believe the Red Sox will return to the postseason in 2024.

Don’t want to just take our word for it? The annual ZiPS projections that Dan Szymborski puts together for FanGraphs paint a picture of a team desperate for the star power that made it the most successful franchise in the sport across the first two decades of this century.

For those unfamiliar, offers this synopsis of what ZiPS aims to do.

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“ZiPS uses growth and decline curves based on player type to find trends. It then factors those trends into the past performance of those players to come up with projections…The system uses statistics from the previous four years for players from ages 24-38, and it weights more recent seasons heavier. For younger or older players, it uses weighted statistics from only the previous three years. The system also factors velocities, injury data and play-by-play data into its equations.”

sZymborski Projection System (ZiPS)”

Sound interesting? Let’s do a deep dive on the 2024 Red Sox ZiPS projections.

Key Position Player Takeaways

  • Rafael Devers remains one of the better players in the sport, with ZiPS projecting that he’ll hit 33 home runs for the second season in a row, while driving in 107 runs and posting an .868 OPS. He’s easily the best overall player on the team, as he was in 2023.
  • ZiPS is excited about Vaughn Grissom getting a change of scenery after moving from Atlanta to Boston. Still only 23, Grissom is projected to slash .284/.352/.419 with 10 home runs, 67 RBI and 2.6 fWAR in 128 games. Those numbers would mark a major improvement upon his disappointing .280/.313/.347 slash line a year ago.
  • Trevor Story has played in just 137 of a possible 324 games across his first two campaigns with the Red Sox, and Boston is in need of a major bounce-back in the third season of his six-year, $140 million deal. ZiPS projects that Story will slash .246/.314/.441 with 15 home runs, 54 RBI and 2.4 fWAR across 411 plate appearances. That would be solid production, but hardly reminiscent of the output that made Story a two-time Silver Slugger winner for the Colorado Rockies.
  • What will the second season of Masataka Yoshida look like in Boston? ZiPS believes he’ll hit .295 with 16 home runs, 74 RBI, an .813 OPS and a 2.1 fWAR. Those are significantly better overall numbers than he had in his first MLB campaign, and the Red Sox could certainly use the extra offense.
  • ZiPS is high on the production the Red Sox will get from Tyler O’Neill — whom they acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals in December — but only when he’s on the field. The system believes O’Neill will hit 18 homers, drive in 60 runs and post a 2.3 WAR, but that will come across just 107 games. The oft-injured outfielder has only played one full season in his big league career.
  • Triston Casas will put up eerily similar production to what he did a year ago, according to ZiPS, which believes he’ll homer 22 times, drive in 71 runs, walk 69 times and post an .846 OPS. A year ago, the former first-round pick hit 24 home runs, drove in 65 runs, walked 70 times and finished with an .856 OPS.

Key Starting Pitcher Takeaways

  • Boston signed Lucas Giolito to a two-year, $38.5 million deal this offseason, which gives him the chance to opt out after 2024 and features a vesting option for 2026. ZiPS, though, isn’t high on the chances that he will rebound after a disastrous season split between the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels and Cleveland Guardians. While Giolito is projected to log more than 160 innings and cut down on his home runs allowed (41 in 2023 to 24 in 2024), ZiPS still believes he’ll finish with a 4.51 ERA and 4.23 FIP.
  • Nick Pivetta’s career as a pitcher who flashes his high upside but ultimately delivers frustrating full-season results is slated to continue, in the estimation of ZiPS. Set to turn 31 in February, Pivetta is projected to post a 4.54 ERA and 4.45 FIP in 32 games, 20 of which would be starts. He can become a free agent after the season.
  • Kutter Crawford not only has one of the best names in baseball, but he was quite effective in 2023, posting a 4.04 ERA and 3.83 FIP across 129 1/3 innings. ZiPS projects Crawford to post a 4.49 ERA and 4.20 FIP over 106 innings in 2024 – not quite as good as last year, but perfectly satisfactory for a back-end starter.
  • While there’s a clear lack of front-line starting pitching in Boston, four pitchers — Giolito, Pivetta, Crawford and Brayan Bello — are all projected to log 146 or more innings, according to the ZiPS Depth Charts projections.

Key Relief Pitcher Takeaways

  • ZiPS projects that closer Kenley Jansen will decline in 2024, posting a 4.17 ERA and 4.23 FIP. He was an All-Star in his first season with Boston but struggled after the Midsummer Classic, posting a 4.50 ERA in 19 second-half appearances. Jansen, 36, will enter his second season with the Red Sox with 420 career saves, wedged in between two former Boston relievers. Billy Wagner ranks sixth all-time with 422 and Craig Kimbrel is eighth with 417.
  • Jansen actually isn’t the elder statesman in this bullpen, as that title belongs to 37-year-old Chris Martin. ZiPS believes Martin – who led qualified relievers with a 1.05 ERA last season – will post a 3.95 ERA in 49 games this upcoming campaign.
  • Garrett Whitlock posted a 2.73 ERA and 3.07 FIP in 77 appearances between the 2021 and 2022 seasons. However, he had a difficult year in 2023 that included a 5.15 ERA in 22 appearances, three stints on the injured list and the tragic loss of his brother in September. ZiPS believes he’ll post a 3.73 ERA and a 3.49 FIP over 30 games, 12 of which would be starts.

Closing Thoughts

  • Grissom is currently projected by Roster Resource to start at second base, which makes sense considering that he had -7 Defensive Runs Saved and -7 Outs Above Average in just 158 innings at shortstop for the Braves last season. The problem is that leaves Story, in his first full season back from right elbow surgery, to play shortstop. That doesn’t feel like a recipe for keeping Story’s bat in the lineup.
  • The Red Sox don’t have an ace, nor do they have a No. 2 starter. Perhaps they’ll get a bounce-back season from Giolito, but three teams couldn’t figure things out with him last year. He’s the type of pitcher you take a gamble on when you have established starters at the top of your rotation and are hoping to strike gold on a third ace.
  • How many players on this roster are you sure will have really good seasons? Rafael Devers, Triston Casas, and well, that might be it.
  • Boston has several needs and is slated to have only the 10th-highest payroll in baseball. There are legitimate criticisms to be made of former chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, but Red Sox ownership hasn’t loosened the purse strings now that Craig Breslow is in charge. It will be fascinating to hear one day about why Red Sox ownership has elected to stop spending like they used to over the last half-decade.
  • It seems crazy to think about, but if the Red Sox aren’t going to make a consistent financial commitment to give manager Alex Cora a World Series-caliber roster, maybe he will have to seriously think about managing another team when his contract wraps up after the 2024 season. Like Craig Counsell this past offseason, he could have a bidding war for his services next winter.