Maybe it hit you in July, after the Boston Red Sox dispatched the Toronto Blue Jays to earn their 10th straight victory. Maybe it didn’t sink in until late September, after win No. 108.a
Or perhaps it took you until Manny Machado’s season-ending strikeout in Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday night to realize this undeniable fact: The 2018 Red Sox are one of the best teams in Major League Baseball history.
We’re all guilty of in-the-moment hyperbole, but the World Series champions have serious evidence to suggest their title campaign ranks among of the best ever.
Let’s get right into it.
Only 11 other teams in MLB history have won 108 games or more in the regular season. Of those clubs, only seven went on to win the World Series. That narrows the 2018 Red Sox’s competition down to:
— 1998 New York Yankees (114 wins)
— 1927 Yankees (110 wins)
— 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates (110 wins)
— 1961 Yankees (109 wins)
— 1986 New York Mets (108 wins)
— 1975 Cincinnati Reds (108 wins)
— 1970 Baltimore Orioles (108 wins)
Those are some very, very good clubs, including Cincinnati’s “Big Red Machine” and the Yankees’ 1927 “Murderer’s Row.” But here’s the case for ranking Boston either on par or ahead of them: None of those teams had a harder postseason road than the 2018 Red Sox.
The Sox became the first team ever to beat two 100-win teams en route to winning the World Series, dispatching the 100-win Yankees in the American League Division Series and the 103-win Houston Astros in the AL Championship Series. After knocking off the Dodgers in the Fall Classic, Boston became the first team ever to beat both of the previous year’s World Series teams in the same postseason.
The Red Sox didn’t just squeak these series out, either. They rumbled to an 11-3 playoff record, dropping just one game in each series while going an improbable 7-1 on the road, becoming just the second team in MLB history to win seven or more road games in one postseason.
Yes, the 1998 Yankees had a better postseason record (11-2). But they also played against worse competition, defeating two sub-90-win teams (the 88-74 Texas Rangers and 89-73 Cleveland Indians) to win the AL pennant before sweeping a 98-win San Diego Padres club.
The same goes for the other squads on that seven-team shortlist, five of whom won their titles before the free agency era began in 1976 and made the league increasingly more competitive.
In short, it’s hard to find any major league team that had so much success against such quality opponents as the 2018 Red Sox.
Oh, and while we’re well aware the games don’t count, we may as well point out Boston won the 2018 Grapefruit League as the best spring training team in baseball. This Red Sox club played a total of 210 games this season from February to October and won 68.1 percent of them (143-66-1) en route to their ninth championship in franchise history.
Now, that’s doing damage.