Aaron Jackson offers his final Red Sox predictions before today's first pitch of the 2021 season. Here are five members of this year's club that Jackson thinks are crucial to Boston's success...

  1. Rafael Devers: To me this is the year that we find out what Devers truly is. Is he a superstar and one of the best hitters in baseball or merely a really good player that will have a nice career. At 24 years old he’s about to enter his prime as a baseball player, and while he’s had one dominant year the rest have been good but not great. To be fair to him last year was strange and the Red Sox were awful so it’s tough to judge him for following up his best year in the majors with a fairly mediocre 57 games. Will he hit 30+ homers consistently year to year with a batting average edging close to 300 like he did in 2019? I think the answer is yes and we see it this season. Prediction: .289 average, 39 homers, 112 RBI.

  2. Hunter Renfroe: Speaking of power bats this is a guy that can mash with the best of them. Cutting out last season leaves him with back to back to back years of 26, 26 and 33 homers while never eclipsing the 450 at bat mark. Is he going to play every day for Boston? Probably not, but he is their starting right fielder as of now. That should be good for 400 plus at bats, and with that I expect we’ll see 30+ homers. He won’t hit for much average so the RBI’s may not be there but I’m excited to see what Renfroe can do with a full season outside of Petco. Prediction: .221 average, 31 homers, 73 RBI

  3. Christian Vazquez: Much like Devers Vazquez had an incredible 2019 season, but unlike Rafael his season was beyond anyone’s expectations of what he could do. Will we ever see Christian bust through the 20 homer plateau again? Can he actually hit for a consistent average over 270? This is actually a situation where I’m not sure of the answers. I think he comes close but not quite which is still quite good for a catcher. Prediction: 263 average, 16 homers, 68 RBI.

  4. Darwinzon Hernandez: I’ve been wanting to see Hernandez with the big league club for the past couple years now, ideally as a starter but that appears to be something that is not in the cards, at least right now. He has electric stuff and has the overall makeup of a guy that could be dominant for years to come, but he just hasn’t proved it in the majors yet. Working out of the bullpen last year he looked good, and he’ll get that chance again this season. Is Hernandez ready to become a valuable major league arm, or is he just going to be another name in a long line of Red Sox pitchers with great stuff that they fail to develop? Prediction: 74 innings, 3.83 ERA, 4 wins, 101 k’s

  5. Enrique Hernandez: Kikay (phonetic) is one of the newest Red Sox and is likely to see plenty of playing time all over the field, especially at second base. Writers talk glowingly of his time with the Dodgers but in reality there’s not a lot to write home about: average at 240, on base percentage barely over 300 and average to below average power. Hernandez is a favorite of baseball people more because of his ability to play many positions, but I think fans expecting Brock Holt are going to be sorely disappointed. Prediction: 225 average, 6 home runs, 51 rbi.

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