What a difference a year and a few all-star additions make, eh?
The attitude in this city has certainly changed since last spring when Dustin Pedroia was rattled about the team's assumed lack of offense. Interestingly enough, the Sox finished second in the MLB in runs scored despite being without Pedroia for the majority of the season.
It was the offseason additions heading into 2010 of John Lackey, Marco Scutaro and Adrian Beltre that gave the Red Sox a pitching and defense personality. However, the two-time Gold Glove winner Beltre ended up posting 19 errors (the most he has had since 2003) while flirting with new career-highs on the offensive side of the ball. Scutaro turned out to be a Godsend on offense as the shortstop took over at leadoff and led the team in plate appearances. Could you imagine the '10 Sox lineup without him? Lackey went 14-11 with a 4.40 ERA and was tied for fourth in the AL with 114 runs allowed.
This winter, as many fans expected, the Sox added some wood to the mix. Picking up Adrian Gonzalez wasn't a complete shock but adding Carl Crawford was. The signs were clear from Day 1 of the offseason: the 2011 Red Sox were going to win games and win them big. It's not to say the Sox defense — which has also improved from last year's preseason "run prevention" malarkey — will go unnoticed, it's just that it's going to be difficult to recognize such staunch defense when the team's rattling off a dozen hits per night.
A couple of things that likely won't be on the minds of any baseball fan in New England are edging out opponents via one-run games and extra-inning thrillers this summer. With this lineup, it's going to be about blowout wins, offensive onslaughts, pitching gems and — when it's all said and done — a healthy heap of 10-0 shutouts, as seen Wednesday night in Houston. Was it not a promising sign to see this high-octane Sox lineup kick things up a notch after a relatively tame Grapefruit League performance?
For a team that's placed in the top three in runs scored every year since 2007, one has to believe that Terry Francona's lineup will make a run at the 100-win and 1,000-run marks come late September, no matter how many major outlets try to jinx the beloved local nine.
Do you think this Red Sox offense will put up record-setting numbers? Share your thoughts below.
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