The Red Sox completed their ultimate goal last night, dispatching the Dodgers in five games. It was a fitting end to a season that saw them set a franchise record for wins. So where do these Red Sox rank among some of the greatest teams in Major League history?
The Red Sox won 108 games in the regular season, setting a franchise record. The 1912 Red Sox, who also won the World Series, won 105 games in a 154 game season. The Red Sox 108 wins places them in a tie for ninth most all-time. Due to the shorter seasons pre-1961, they rank a bit further down in terms of winning percentage. The case can be made though that this team had a tougher road.
There was no free agency in those days, so teams did not need to fear losing their players. Also, there was no postseason. If a team had the best record in their league, they made the World Series. There was no going through teams like the Yankees and the Astros again in the
postseason after beating them out in the regular season.
Since free agency began, only the 2001 Mariners and the 1998 Yankees won more games than the Red Sox did this year. The same holds true for total amount of wins, when combining regular season and postseason wins. The 1998 Yankees won 125 and the Seattle Mariners won 120, and the Mariners did not even make the World Series that season, let alone win it. No other team in baseball history, pre-free agency or post-free agency, won more than 119 games; So this Red Sox team is in some rarefied air.
It is safe to say that no team in history has faced the tall task the Red Sox just went through in the postseason. After winning 108 regular season games, the Red Sox reward was facing a 100 win Yankees team. The 100 wins from the Yankees was more than any National League team won. The Red Sox steamrolled through their rivals in four games however.
Next up was the 103 win and defending champion Houston Astros. Despite the Red Sox having the top record, many thought the Astros would be too strong for them. They were, after all, the defending champions and had improved their pitching staff this season. The Astros 103 wins were two more than they accomplished last season and placed behind only this seasons Red Sox and last season’s Dodgers for the most wins of the decade.
After dropping the first game, the Red Sox had no more issues with the Astros, taking four straight to dispatch of the defending world champions. The final three of those wins came in Houston and included beating future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander in the deciding game.
In the World Series, they faced the Dodgers, who were playing for the championship for the second consecutive season. The Red Sox didn’t have much trouble with them either, winning in just five games. It took the Dodgers 18 innings to win one game from the Red Sox. In that 18 inning affair, the Red Sox top four spots in the batting order combined to go 0-28, and it still took 18 innings and an egregious miscue in the field from second baseman Ian Kinsler for the Dodgers to win a game.
As all great teams do, the Red Sox weren’t short of star power. Mookie Betts looks like he will probably win the MVP Award, after going 30-30 while leading the league in hitting. His closest contender for the award might be teammate J.D. Martinez, who hit .330 with 43 home runs and 130 runs batted in. On the mound, Chris Sale was the favorite for Cy Young until a couple disabled list stints in the second half.
And yet, despite the star power, the Red Sox did not win because of that. This truly was a team effort, showing just how great of a team it is. Mookie Betts batted just .217 with a .699 OPS in the World Series and hit only one home run the entire postseason. J.D. Martinez was a more human .278 hitter with an .881 OPS in the World Series. Chris Sale did not win a game in the series.
Instead, everyone pitched in, with journeyman Steve Pearce taking home the World Series MVP honors. The much-maligned David Price got his redemption. After struggling in his first couple postseason outings, running his playoff record to 0-9, Price bested Justin Verlanded in the deciding game of the ALCS, then won games two and five in the World Series. Nathan Eovaldi was practically not human, pitching six innings of relief in game three while routinely pushing triple digits with his fastball. He then volunteered to pitch again later that same day.
So where do these Red Sox rank amongst the greatest teams ever assembled? It is hard to pinpoint an exact place, especially factoring in the different styles of play and the way the game has changed over the years. However, it is clear this team is near the top. The 1927 and 1998 Yankees usually get talked about, as do the 1929 Athletics. The Big Red Machine of the 1970’s is up there as well, but this team can win with them all, and winning is truly all that matters.
Featured image from Newshub.com