The 2013 Boston Red Sox have done a complete 180 from their horrendous 2012 campaign, and just may be the favorites to win their third World Series title in the last ten seasons.
Clay Buchholz (Photo: Bob DeChiara, USA TODAY Sports)
Boston put on an exclamation point to their 9-1 series sweep of the New York Yankees on Sunday. They received enormous production from their starting lineup. Eight of their nine starters either scored a run, drove in a run or got on base in some way, shape or form. Their high octane offense has exploded in scoring 791 runs and their 92-59 record is the best in baseball, including an AL best 50-25 record at Fenway Park, and while the regular season doesn’t always translate to the postseason, the AL has home field advantage in this year’s World Series after winning the All Star Game 3-0, perhaps that could heavily tip the scale in the Red Sox’s favor.
Whereas in the past the Red Sox spent high priced money on Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, this present day team consists of General Manager Ben Cherington making shrewd moves like trading for Mike Carp and signing Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino. All three moves have paid outstanding dividends as these trio of acquisitions have certainly produced in their first season in a Red Sox uniform.
On top of the new look Boston squad, they have maintained some of their core pieces. Dustin Pedroia may not win his second AL MVP in 2013, but do expect him to place pretty high as he is making it all happen. Jacoby Ellsbury was the MVP runnerup in 2011 and is bound to place somewhere too. Don’t forget 37-year-old David Ortiz, who continues to make it happen and is showing no signs of slowing down. All in all, they are batting .276 as a team.
Their starting rotation has had its high points as well. Just think of how good of a season we would be talking about for Clay Buchholz had he stayed healthy. It’s more than just the fact he is 11-0, his 275 ERA+ and 1.007 WHIP is nothing short of impressive and despite walking his share of Yankee batters on Sunday, he was still brilliant enough.
Buchholz had a rough 2012 and so did Jon Lester, along the entire Red So team, but Lester has improved from last year. Though he hasn’t been quite as good as Buchholz has in limited time pitching, he has definitely contributed to the success of this year’s squad.
The bullpen has looked fantastic. Craig Breslow has made himself one of the best set up men in baseball this year, and perhaps Cherington didn’t need to trade for Joel Hanrahan after all, 38-year-old Koji Uehara is lights out in the closer’s role for the Bo Sox.
This team is stacked, and with how they have been playing, it looks like the American League pennant, if not more, just may go through them.