Boston Red Sox (108-54) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (92-71)
Boston Wins in Five
It’s time to admit something that a ton of media outlets seem to be shying away from this year.
The Boston Red Sox are EXACTLY as good as their 108-win season and World Series title would suggest. Probably even better.
Check out these hilariously early ESPN Power Rankings for next year, which somehow have the Red Sox in fourth place, behind the three teams that they dominated in the postseason.
That’s some serious disrespect for the day after winning a World Series in five games, even for ESPN.
In what amounts to the toughest postseason run in MLB history, the Red Sox mowed down not one, but two 100+ win teams to win the American League, then capped it off with a World Series win against the repeating NL Champion Dodgers, who were decidedly better than their injury-plagued 92-win season. In doing so, the Red Sox lost only three games total, one in each series.
The lone loss in the World Series was an insane game three that took a preposterous eighteen innings and seven-plus hours for the Dodgers to claw out a win. After the loss, the prognosticators somehow immediately saw the ascendency of the Dodgers to their first title since the Reagan administration, despite still trailing Boston two games to one. Boston had gambled too much. The pitching couldn’t possibly hold up, they said.
We all know that didn’t happen, as the Red Sox returned to Chavez Ravine to win the next two games to close out the series, beating Clayton Kershaw yet again to seal the deal. It mattered little what part of the lineup came to bat with the pressure on, or who was on the mound with the Dodgers threatening. Every move that rookie manager Alex Cora made seemed to work perfectly.
Former Blue Jay Steve Pearce, of all people, earned himself the World Series MVP, but he was the right man to lift the trophy. Pearce was not only the biggest slugger in the series (1.167), hitting three homeruns and eight RBI, he also drew four key walks, almost all of which came in high stakes moments. Oh, and he never struck out. Not once. Every time he picked up a bat, he put the ball in play, or got on base. Betts and Martinez were both fine in the end, but neither looked like the guys who won the batting and RBI titles respectively. While the David Price redemption tour is a great story in Boston, I can’t in all good conscience argue for him. He just didn’t touch enough of the games.
Perhaps that’s the story of this Red Sox team, even though they seemed to score a wildly disproportionate number of runs with two outs in the World Series. The sabermetrics guys aren’t super impressed by that BTW. Check out this awesome article from SB Nation on the topic.
This team won a league high 108 games, with a second 100-win team (Yankees) in their division, and their ace starter (Sale) contributing only twelve wins. Quick: tell me who won the most games for Boston this year. Spoiler alert, it’s Rick Porcello, with seventeen. Price won sixteen. So, Boston won only forty-five of their one-hundred and eight wins with one their top three starters on the hill. They led the majors in almost every offensive category except home runs, but somehow those Yankees bats were more feared. The metrics, they say, point to an all or nothing approach at the plate. Launch angle, swing for the fences. New York and Los Angeles bought into that philosophy whole-heartedly.
Over the course of the entire playoffs, the Red Sox outscored the Dodgers by twenty- five runs, and struck out fifty-three fewer times. Sure, the Dodgers played two more games, but that’s almost two whole games worth of strike outs. The Red Sox outscored the Yankees by fourteen runs in the ALDS, including the back-breaking 16-1 drubbing in game three. There’s no comparison. The proof, as they say…is in the pudding.
Despite the continued disbelief, this was the best team in the majors all season long, and they were the best team in the playoffs as well. It wasn’t close.
Did they break a curse?
Was there an actual bloody red sock on a pitcher?
No, but it matters little. The 2018 Red Sox are the greatest baseball team ever assembled in Boston.
Prove me wrong.
Image Source: USA Today