American East Champions
The turn around from last years debacle led by the sacrificial lamb of Bobby Valentine has been completed. Saturday saw the Boston Red Sox claim the American East Division Championship ironically against John Farrell’s previous team the Toronto Blue Jays. There has been no end of articles and posts since the American East title was claimed all stating the amazing turnaround as nothing less than “a miracle”. There are even people calling this the greatest Modern day Baseball story in a long while. Either way I think this success has been down to a few factors.
Reengaging the old guard is one of the main factors. As 2012 drew to a close it was clear that David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia were not enjoying life at Fenway Park. Farrell who really should have been appointed once Francona left has got them believing again. At one point in the close season it looked as if Ortiz was talking up a move to our rivals the New York Yankees. It became apparent that the right appointment as Head Coach would need to get these guys buying into his vision. This season it has happened and Ortiz who has played 132 games has managed 28 home runs and over 90 RBI. These stats alone show that Big Papi is back and ready to carry this on into the World Series. Dustin has featured in 155 games and where his Home Runs have faltered, he has stepped up to the plate and has brought in a higher RBI figure in the 80’s than 2 of his last 3 seasons. These combined facts and performances are a major catalyst behind this seasons success.
John Farrell has been nothing short of a blessing in disguise. His no nonsense approach has paid big dividends. Many including myself thought seeing Adrian Gonzalez leave with Cody Ross as big reactive decisions. Who would have thought that this would actually work in our favor as the season developed. Another of the big successes has been with the Pitching. If Clay Buchholz hadn’t of injured himself in June then it’s a safe bet that his 11-1 Record would’ve been higher. My personal highlight has been Jon Lester, he certainly has had a strong second half to this season. Jon Lester could’ve left Fenway Park after 2012 and after the first couple of months this year, many thought a trade off was possible. It’s been a fantastic change around and in the recent series victories over the NYY and San Francisco Giants, Jon has shown his true world class ability. Felix Doubront and John Lackey have also provided sterling support for a strong Pitching line up.
There have been many other success stories this season. I’ve been really impressed with Mike Napoli who joined from Texas. He has always stepped up to the plate and delivered the goods when the games have seemed dead and buried. Salty has also made some big hits and it’s safe to say that this year should see him rewarded with a new contract. He has been a reliable Catcher and has had more than his fair share of critics in 2012. The final person I’d like to mention is Koji Uehara, he has had a fantastic debut season since his move from Texas. 20 saves and 98 strike outs in a season which saw him retire over 30 batters in a row highlighted his special ability.
So as we head into the final few games there is still so much to play for. Ideally we will be hoping for a Home Plate advantage. We are locked in a battle with the Oakland A’s for this reward and as things stand we are 1 1/2 games clear of them. I think 5 more wins will see us claim this morale boosting advantage and as things currently stand we look set to claim one of these against the Blue Jays tonight. World Series 2013 Baseball is going to be one amazing ride, the important thing is that the Red Sox Nation will be part of it.