It’s been somewhat of a roller coaster type season for the Boston Red Sox.
Acquiring outfielder Carl Crawford from division rival Tampa Bay Rays, and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres sky-rocketed the Sox to the top of many baseball analysts’ favorite lists for winning the 2011 Word Series.
With all of Major League Baseball closely watching, Boston got off to a 2-10 start, matching the worst start in franchise history.
Eventually, their bats and pitching both came together and the Red Sox capped off April by going 9-5.
Their success continued into May and June, as the Sox hopped back over the .500 mark, claimed the lead in the AL East Division, and most importantly, stayed healthy through it all.
Of course, nothing comes easy in the AL East Division and the Sox find themselves, currently, in a very familiar spot, jockeying for position with their heated rival New York Yankees.
The end of June is a tad early to pick a winning horse in the World Series due to unknown variables (injuries, trades, a division rival catching fire, etc.), but a strong case can be made for the Red Sox taking it all the way this season.
We can throw the obvious out there right away. The Red Sox are absolutely stacked when it comes to batting. Currently, the Sox are first in the Majors in runs scored, batting average and on-base percentage.
As far as pitching goes, they rank fifth in the Majors in opponents’ batting average. Boston does struggle, however, in ERA, ranking 17th overall at 3.97. John Lackey has a lot to do with that number, as his ERA sits at 7.36. Unfortunately, he’s also the second highest paid pitcher on the staff.
The biggest roadblocks on Boston’s path to a title in the American League, I would say, are the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays. The bad news is that both these teams are division rivals and, therefore, the Sox will have to play them more times than the inter-divisional teams. The good news is that should Boston make the playoffs, only one or neither of those two will join them.
The most challenging competition as a whole, in the Majors, is in the National League. With the Phillies’ and Giants’ pitching staffs, any AL champ would have their hands full trying to put runs up.
If any team can put runs on the board, though, it’s the Boston Red Sox. What once was an unwavering curse, is turning into a victory in the World Series every 3-4 years.