There are a few factors you can point to when examining how the Red Sox made such a stark turnaround from their disastrous 2020 season.
Boston, of course, beefed up its lineup with impactful additions like Hunter Renfroe, Kyle Schwarber and Kiké Hernández. Players also likely benefitted from Major League Baseball, as a whole, operating in a more “normal” fashion.
But if you had to single out one reason for the Red Sox’s impressive bounce back, it probably is the return of Alex Cora. The Red Sox manager, who was out of MLB for all of last season, guided his team through a handful of hardships this season and has his club playing some of its best baseball at the perfect time.
Asked after Boston’s American League Division Series-clinching win Monday night about Cora’s value to the Red Sox, Alex Verdugo gave his manager his due credit and then some.
“A lot. I mean, a lot,” Verdugo said during an MLB network interview, as transcribed by MLB.com. “That guy’s amazing. How smart he is, baseball IQ-wise, the way he manages the game and plays with the bullpen; he’s playing chess, man. The other team’s playing checkers. It’s a lot of fun and I’m just happy I can be along for the ride with him.”
Cora, much like everyone else on the Red Sox, will need to be at his best if Boston wants to advance to the World Series. The Sox’s AL Championship Series opponent, the Houston Astros, put a pretty thorough beatdown on the Chicago White Sox in the divisional round.