The Boston Red Sox are 13-2, yet aren’t being viewed, by many, as a true World Series contender. Isn’t having the best record in the majors worthy of getting such consideration?
Yes, the Red Sox have won a series versus the Tampa Bay Rays (twice) and Miami Marlins, but that’s what contending teams do; they beat up on lesser competition. Plus, for what it’s worth, the Red Sox won their three-game series versus the rival New York Yankees last week. And when you look at the overall makeup and production of their roster, first-year manager Alex Cora has a stellar roster at his disposal.
Going into Monday night, the Red Sox had scored the second-most runs (89) and owned the second-best batting average (.275) in baseball. Mookie Betts has been superb at the plate, hitting .353, Hanley Ramirez has driven in 15 runs, J.D. Martinez is beginning to catch fire, Xander Bogaerts appeared to be turning a corner before going on the disabled list, and the Red Sox, as a whole, have six players with nine or more RBIs 15 games into this season. Barring injury, that order is a force to be reckoned with.
On the rubber, the Red Sox have performed at a high level. Chris Sale is pitching like his dominant self, recording a 1.23 ERA in his first four starts, righty Rick Porcello has strung together three competent starts, and David Price was rekindling his old ways before a first inning implosion versus the Yankees last week. And with Drew Pomeranz‘s return on the horizon, Boston’s rotation will only get deeper in the foreseeable future. Couple that rotation with a lights-out bullpen, and the Red Sox have one of the best all-around pitching staffs in baseball.
With Craig Kimbrel locking down the ninth inning, and reliable backend relievers such as Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, and rookie Bobby Poyner in place, Boston’s pen can take over early in games when their starters struggle. Last season, they had the second-best bullpen ERA in the majors (3.15).With a great start under their belt despite media attention going elsewhere, it's clear: the Red Sox are grossly underrated.Click To Tweet
The Red Sox are looking to win the American League East for the third consecutive season, and face a legitimate threat to be overthrown by the Yankees. At the same time, while the Yankees lit up the offseason with the acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, it never meant they were going to be surefire favorites to win the division. In fact, while it’s still April, the Red Sox hold a five-game lead on the Bronx Bombers, and their series win in Fenway Park last week was a statement: They’re still the team to beat in the division.
So with their overwhelming amount of early success and talent in mind, why is Boston not being legitimately put in the World Series conversation? Sure everyone knows they, when healthy, have a lethal lineup and a top-five pitcher in Sale, but what is it that makes many put the Houston Astros, Yankees, and Cleveland Indians ahead of them with ease? Is it that Cora’s in his first year as a manager? Their lineup’s struggles last season? People not having confidence in Porcello and Price pitching well? Last season, the Red Sox won the AL East with Porcello surrendering the most runs in baseball, Price missing half the year, Betts hitting .264, and Jackie Bradley Jr. hitting just .245. Now, they’re getting consistency and more productive at-bats from Betts (an MVP Candidate), Cy Young level production — yet again — from Porcello, and an improved Price. And left fielder Andrew Benintendi has only one season in the majors under his belt and will improve with time. The improvements and growth from last season make the Red Sox as dangerous as ever.
Sure, the Astros are the defending World Series champions and the team to beat in the American League until proven otherwise. But it’s rare that teams repeat as champions in any sport, and the Astros’ bullpen remains a major question mark. The Yankees are also getting underwhelming production from their pen, while Stanton and Gary Sanchez try to get in a rhythm at the plate. The Indians have been playing near-.500 baseball and don’t appear to be running away with the American League Central; the Red Sox, on the other hand, do not have a particular facet of their roster that presents a reason to worry.
The Red Sox are in the pennant and World Series mix, much like the Indians, Yankees, and rising Los Angeles Angels — despite some of their struggles. But the Red Sox have been grossly underrated; they’re a formidable, young, and hungry ballclub whose hot start is anything but a fluke.