This week that has seen Doc go to the Clippers, Ray Allen win the NBA title with Miami, Aaron Hernandez get charged with murder and released by the Patriots, the Bruins lose a heartbreaking series and allow the Blackhawks to hoist the Cup on home ice, the Celtics make a blockbuster deal sending KG, Jason Terry, and the face of their franchise for 15 years, the Captain, Paul “The Truth” Pierce, to Brooklyn, but we still have baseball though right? Worst week ever or the sports Gods way of weeding out all of the bandwagon fans so we true fans can enjoy the second half of baseball?
This time last year the Red Sox were barely above .500 and had who most considered the worst manager in Sox history. This year the Sox are 15 games above .500 and in first place in the toughest division in all of baseball. The American League East from top to bottom are separated by a mere 7.5 games with the last place Blue Jays recently coming off an 11 game win streak and now begin a 4 game series at Fenway.
In 2012 the Bobby V controversy started within the first week of spring training and it seems as though here in 2013 there has yet to be any controversy. There are no rumors about video games, fried chicken, or beer. During then NESN broadcast even Don and Jerry mention the different feeling that has come over this team since the beginning of spring training.
There haven’t been too many roster changes so why the change? What makes this team that much better? Why wasn’t this success achieved last season?
RESPECT. It’s as simple as that. The team feels like a team to the players. They enjoy playing for their manager and with each other. Now don’t get me wrong no matter the manager or teammates, baseball is their job, they should perform no matter what, but as in the normal work world happiness does make a difference in how well you perform. John Farrell is a big reason for the success of the Red Sox this season.
We have a starting rotation that is shaping up to be one of the best. Buchholz has a 1.71 ERA and is 9-0 and Lester although having recent struggles is 8-4 with a 4.67 ERA but he did have a great outing in-game 81 before exiting in what has been deemed a minor injury. Then there is John Lackey, yes I included John Lackey in the topic of great starters in the Red Sox rotation this season. He has a 2.99 ERA and is 5-5. Who would have thought after Tommy John he would come back like this? I know I sure didn’t, I actually cringed at the thought but here he is. He even tied his career high in strikeouts just the other night with 12 strikeouts and only gave up 2 runs. If and when we get Buchholz back, and he stays on pace to be in the Cy Young talks, first place should be ours for a while.
Then there’s our hitting, as that has changed as well. Ortiz has started this season off at a faster pace than we have been accustomed to seeing in recent years. He is hitting .319 and already has 16 HRs and is only 3 RBIs short of tying his season total of last year. He has also legged out 2 triples this year already and had not recorded one all of last season. Pedroia is hitting a .318 and looks to be on pace to keep that up and be in the MVP talks. Jacoby Ellsbury is staying healthy and has already equaled the total amount of games he has played last year. He is hitting a very respectable .292 and is leading the league with 32 stolen bases. Napoli has been an RBI machine of sorts. Although he has cooled down a bit he still ranks in the top 15 of all players with 53 and Papi is in the top 10 with 57. Then we have our young guys stepping up with Iglesias and Nava. Iglesias is hitting a .417 and Nava is at a .281 and ranks 2nd on the team in HRs only behind Ortiz. Even Shane Victorino who some believed was not going to amount to anything is hitting remarkably well with a .297 batting average. The team leads the league in runs scored with 417 with the closest team to them being 26 runs away, Baltimore with 391. This lineup from top to bottom is a force to be reckoned with.
This team had the potential to THIS team last season. I will not put all of the blame on Bobby V for the failure last year but I will give a lot of credit to John Farrell this season for the success. This team has made great progress and is poised to be a major playoff contender and maybe World Series contender. Barring any major setbacks to Buchholz’s return or any unforeseen injuries I look forward to seeing the Red Sox play well into October. Here’s to another 48 wins in the 2nd half of the season.