BOSTON — The 2016 Red Sox might not be the flashiest team in the postseason, but they’ve been able to be successful by using a similar formula to their last World Series-winning squad.
The 2013 Red Sox made it all the way to the Fall Classic with a team of likable, power-hitting misfits who weren’t necessarily Major League Baseball’s biggest stars but benefited from an undeniable chemistry. They had a rotation that couldn’t compare to some of the other playoff teams on paper — the Detroit Tigers had Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, for example — but still managed to get the job done.
And Red Sox manager John Farrell sees some of that in this season’s team, which will play its first American League Divisions Series game Thursday against the Cleveland Indians.
“The similarities are probably in how tight-knit group this team is when compared to 2013,” Farrell said Friday. “Very different characters, very different personalities. A younger team, a more athletic team in the ‘16 version. But still, kind of a dynamic type of offense that I think the offense in ‘13 was as well. The common denominator between both are how they care for one another inside our clubhouse existed. That’s strong today, and I think that’s probably maybe customary to successful teams that have withstood a number of different challenges.”
It remains to be seen if the 2016 team’s rotation and bullpen can hold up in the playoffs, but the offense actually is much better than it was in 2013. The Red Sox led the league in runs (878), doubles (343), RBIs (836), team average (.282), on-base percentage (.348) and slugging percentage (.461). They had three players with 30-plus home runs and 100-plus RBIs — that would be Mookie Betts, David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez — for the first time in team history.
In fact, the Red Sox have been so good offensively that they’ve even exceeded Farrell’s expectations.
“Yeah, I think it has,” Farrell said Sunday. “And one of the things that quickly jumps to mind is that all of our young players in their second full year or their third full year, they’ve all taken a major step forward. That’s really good for our organization obviously. I don’t know that you go into a season thinking you’re going to score nearly 900 runs. That’s a lofty number.
“And we’ve stayed healthy, I think is a major component to it, but I think guys have really taken a step forward in understanding who they are as offensive players and what makes them best. … You talk about individuals, but I think as a group we’ve really stepped forward with that core group of young players.”
The Red Sox still have a very long way to go if they want to hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy this year. But if one thing is for sure, it’s that the formula for a winning team is there.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images