Former Red Sox outfielder Gabe Kapler is just like everyone else.
Kapler dropped by WEEI’s Mut & Merloni on Thursday, and he made it clear that he did not see the Red Sox’ success coming. Boston picked up its 97th win of the season Friday, and Kapler thinks that the Red Sox’ amazing turnaround is shocking, even in comparison to the Athletics’ impressive run.
“I’m going to be frank, upfront and honest with you here. I’m more surprised by the Red Sox. If you were to ask me at the beginning of the year, ‘Would the Red Sox have the best record in baseball?,’ I would say, ‘No chance,’” Kapler said. “Ben Cherington has hit a home run with every move that he’s made and it’s surprising. He hasn’t swung and missed once, even with Ryan Dempster — a guy who really was productive in April and has been productive in stretches throughout the season. … Every guy has been an absolute home run. I thought it was going to be very difficult for this Red Sox team to make the playoffs at the beginning of the year, and I’m totally surprised that everything has fallen into place.”
Kapler, who spent four seasons in Boston, played on some very good Red Sox teams, including the 2004 World Series squad, so he knows a thing or two about postseason success. But while it’s clear that Kapler thinks highly of this year’s Red Sox team, he has also been impressed by the Tigers and thinks that Boston should continue doing everything it can to avoid playing Detroit in the ALDS.
“It’s going to be interesting,” Kapler said. “The only staff that I like better than the Red Sox and Rays at this point is the Detroit Tigers. One through five, every guy has a fielding independent pitching — which allows us to factor all of the defensive things that can make a pitcher go wrong, so only focusing on strikeouts, home runs and walks, so to me the most important stat for a pitcher is fielding independent pitching — they have all five of their starters in the top 16, and the four guys you get before [Rick] Porcello are in the top eight. … This pitching staff is ridiculous, one of the best I’ve seen in a long time.”
The Red Sox need just one more win or an A’s loss to avoid playing the Tigers in the first round. Given how this season has gone, though, Boston looks built to go toe-to-toe with anyone.