Bad news Yankee fans: This Red Sox team is no joke.
I know, I know, not a news flash. But I also know that there’s a good chance that like me, you were hoping something would be exposed in the playoffs. That maybe that “bridge to Kimbrel” that Michael Kay referred to ad nauseam down the stretch would collapse. Maybe the big hitters would get cold for a week, which happens to all big hitters at times. Maybe the “supporting cast” would play like it instead of like the very good players they’ve been recently.
None of that has happened.
The bullpen has been great. The supporting cast is playing like all-stars, and the all-stars are playing like Hall of Famers.
Consider this: I know, small sample, anything can happen, I get it. The Yankees were an injury-riddled team in 2018 and still won 100 games. The defending champion Astros were also injury ridden this season and won 103 games. These teams were juggernauts that both would have been the best team in baseball most seasons.
The Red Sox just took seven out of nine games from them.
Some more perspective: The Red Sox led the league in OBP and SLG in 2018. That alone makes a team an offensive powerhouse and generally will result in the team leading the league in runs scored, which the Sawx did. The Red Sox, however, also led the league in stolen bases and stolen base percentage. The last team to lead their league in all those categories was the Big Red Machine in 1976*. (If that Reds team wasn’t scary enough for you, they also led the league in extra bases taken and fewest outs made on the bases as well. And ironically, one of my first memories of baseball was watching the ’76 Reds knock the snot out of the Yankees in the World Series. I still have nightmares.) The Red Sox are the best at literally every aspect of offensive baseball.
Of course, as I’ve written here previously, a seven-game series isn’t quite a coin toss but it’ll do until the coin arrives. Both the Brewers and Dodgers will be prohibitive underdogs but both are very good teams and will have a much bigger fan base than usual as Boston’s opponent.
But even if the quadruple A league pulls off a World Series upset, this Boston team isn’t going anywhere.
Fifteen years ago they hired Bill James. Then Theo Epstein. Then Jed Hoyer. I.e., they got smart. Since then, they’ve won three World Series and are now in their fourth after not having won since prior to the invention of electricity. And yes, some of the characters have changed, but James is still the Senior Advisor of baseball operations so the philosophy of being smart is still there. Hell, they have a manager who publicly said he doesn’t believe in players being clutch – how’s that for smart?
They draft well, they develop well, they trade well and they sign well. That’s the front office version of OBP, SLG, SB, and SB%.
Here’s hoping the only mistake they’ve made – giving Eduardo Nunez a glove and putting him in the field – comes back to haunt them.
*Shout out to Rob Mains for the find.
Like the blog? Drop your loose change in the tip jar. Even the smallest donations help keep the blog going - thanks in advance!