What else can baseball fans do in January but dream of October? In You May Say I'm a Dreamer, the Outside Corner staff will imagine the route to a World Series in 2013 title for all 30 teams.
No one expected the Boston Red Sox to completely collapse like they did in 2012. By the same token, no one really expected to see Boston contend for a division title in 2013 after reloading their roster with aging stars. But the veterans all meshed together pretty well, and the Red Sox shocked the world and won their third World Series in the last ten years in 2013.
You can tie the reversal in Boston's success in 2013 mainly to two players: Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury. Pedroia put together a seven win season in 2013, much like he did in 2011, hitting a career-best 23 homers, stealing 22 bases, and putting together an .841 OPS for the season. Combine that with his typical excellent defense, and you've got one of the most valuable players in the American League. Ellsbury also had a season reminiscent of his 2011, though not nearly as good. In his walk year with Boston, Ellsbury played in 153 games, homered 24 times, stole 31 bases, and won the Gold Glove in center field.
With talent like that up the middle, it's not a surprise that Boston contended in 2013. But Pedroia and Ellsbury didn't do it all on their own. David Ortiz blasted 41 homers, Mike Napoli stayed healthy for the majority of the season and added 33 homers of his own, and right fielder Shane Victorino stole 27 bases while homering 19 times, showing that he still has something left in the tank.
On the mound, everything seemed to go right for the Red Sox. Jon Lester dropped his ERA by more than a run down to 3.74 after a disastrous 2012, and he hiked his strikeout rate to 8.47 per nine innings after it dropped to 7.28 last season. Clay Buchholz also improved a ton in 2013, dropping his ERA to 3.13 and hitting the 200 inning mark for the first time in his career. Ryan Dempster also held his own with his new club, posting a 4.04 ERA, and John Lackey's return from Tommy John surgery resulted in a 4.17 ERA, which has to be considered a success, all things considered. Boston's bullpen was also one of the best in baseball, despite closer Joel Hanrahan's struggles. The bridge to Hanrahan was paved by Andrew Bailey, Koji Uehara, and Junichi Tazawa, with all three posting ERAs under 2.00 for the season and creating some wiggle room for the erratic former Pirate in the ninth inning.
The Red Sox won the AL East after a 94 win season, and the Yankees plummeting to 76 wins made Boston's season that much sweeter. In the ALDS, Boston knocked off the defending AL champion Tigers in five games, battering Justin Verlander in two starts. In the ALCS, the Red Sox took on the 98 win Angels, and won in a four game sweep after Boston's homer-happy offense teed off on the homer-prone LA starters. Finally in the World Series, the Red Sox took on the NL East champion Atlanta Braves, former residents of Boston, and won in six games after a big series from former Braves backup catcher David Ross.
It was a bit of a shocking season for the Red Sox based on how 2011 ended and how much of a disaster 2012 was. But at the end of 2013, Red Sox Nation really is alive and well, and their team is once again at the top of the mountain.
Red Sox on TOC
End of Season Postmortem
Hope for the Hopeless
2013 Season Preview
You May Say I’m a Dreamer
2013 Burning Question (12:45 PM)
This Is My Nightmare (2:00 PM)
X-Factor (3:15 PM)
Top Ten Prospects (4:30 PM)