|This Red Sox Season Just Gets Better and Better|
The Boston Red Sox are good, like… really good. Currently sitting at 76-34, the Red Sox have collected the most wins in baseball and have left the entire American League in their wake. The Sox capitalized on a 17-2 start and haven’t looked back since. They currently sit 6.5 games ahead of the Yankees and have six more wins than other team in the MLB.
My brother and I may come from Portland, but our family is rooted in Boston sports fandom, with our dad being from Andover, Mass. and our mom also being an avid Red Sox fan from her time in Boston as a student. Alex and I have been watching the Red Sox for as long as we can remember. Some of our earliest sports memories include moments like Aaron Boone’s home run in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, the Sox reversing a 3-0 series lead against New York, and of course, the Red Sox ending an 86-year drought in 2004 when they lifted the World Series trophy in St. Louis. We’ve seen a lot of great Red Sox teams and have been blessed to see them win three World Series in our lifetimes. However, this current Red Sox team may be the best I’ve ever had the opportunity to watch on a nightly basis.
From top to bottom, this roster is absolutely loaded with talented. With a batting order built around both power and contact, The Sox are headlined by some of the best hitters in the American League, including home run leader J.D. Martinez and AL MVP front-runner Mookie Betts. This offense leads the majors currently with 572 runs and a .268 team average, along with a .455 slugging percentage and a .335 on base percentage; that’s good for 2nd and 3rd, respectively. These stats only further showcase the team’s dominance at the plate. Alongside this star power for Boston is consistency from its position players. They have key contributors up and down the lineup, like left fielder Andrew Benintendi, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, and first basemen Mitch Moreland. All 3 are hitting at or above .265, bringing consistent contributions to the Sox on a nightly basis. This offensive outburst comes after a 2017 season where the Red Sox struggled mightily to plate runners, especially by way of the home run ball. The Red Sox finished last in the AL with only 168 homers and failed to back a stellar pitching staff with only 785 runs over the entire regular season.
This issue was one of real magnitude as the team headed into the offseason in 2017. An offseason that began after another early exit from the ALDS against the eventual champion Houston Astros. General Manager Dave Dombrowski held his cards tight to his vest in negotiations and possible deals before finally coming to terms with OF/DH J.D. Martinez. The deal was made on February 26th, resulting in a five year, $110 million dollar contract. Dombrowski finally landed the home run help this club desperately desired. And with Martinez in tow, the Red Sox have continued to roll through opponents this year, as their pitching staff has received plenty of help from this deadly lineup.
Speaking of the Red Sox pitching, it’s good, like the best we’ve seen in a while good. Perennial Cy Young candidate Chris Sale has led the Sox rotation with perhaps his most impressive season to date. Through 22 starts, Sale has accumulated 207 strikeouts over 141 innings while only allowing 32 earned runs. He has the best ERA in the majors at 2.04 as well as the highest strikeouts per nine innings at 13.21. The rest of the staff has shown stability and consistency behind Sale as Rick Porcello leads the team in wins with 13. Meanwhile, David Price has enjoyed somewhat of a bounce back campaign with eleven wins and a 3.97 ERA along with 119 ks to boot. Further down the depth chart, Eduardo Rodriguez has had a great season for the Red Sox (when he’s been on the field) where he holds an 11-3 record with 110 ks and a 3.44 ERA. However, the southpaw has struggled with injuries and is currently nursing an ankle injury that’s landed him on the 10 day-DL. Finally, the bullpen has consistently shut the door this year despite concerns surrounding it’s depth and talent. Since an opening day debacle that saw the Sox surrender a 4-0 eighth inning lead in Tampa Bay, the bullpen has found success behind it’s key figures in closer Craig Kimbrel and eighth inning guy Matt Barnes. The pair have helped the Sox attain the 5th lowest bullpen ERA in the league while both finishing in the top ten for saves and leads held.
The question now: Can this team go all the way? General Manager Dave Dombrowski has worked to improve this team by bringing in second basemen Ian Kinsler to help the championship-hungry Sox compete come October. However, the team failed to add to the bullpen, choosing the stand pat with it’s current group. While it’s yet to be seen how this team performs down the stretch, as well as the moves Alex Cora could make to aid this problem, the lack of relief pitching remains the team’s biggest question mark as a stout offense and consistent pitching staff has unexpectedly propelled them to the MLB’s peak.
Going forward, I hope this team can win it all. I think they can win it all. It really just depends on what happens in October. They’ve found a new era of consistency from 2016 to the present, but have only a single playoff win to show for it after two abysmal trips to the postseason. Now’s their chance to right these wrongs and bring another World Series title back to Boston.