Posted by Katie Peverada
The MLB season is young, with most teams having played about 14 games, or eight percent of their season. The Atlanta Braves turned heads with their 10-game winning streak and the Miami Marlins continue to make headlines for their lack of attendance. Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox are quietly plugging along and sit atop the American League East with a record of 10-4. It must be a fluke, right?
Everyone from Sports Illustrated to Bleacher Report tabbed the Red Sox to finish last in the AL East this year, just as they did in 2012 while in the midst of yet another manager controversy. They aren't even supposed to be in the running to have another monumental collapse like they did during the 2011 season. And the last time they made the playoffs? 2009.
The 2013 Red Sox look different. The roster has been completely overhauled. There are only four players remaining from the 2007 World Series roster, and only one player remaining from the 2004 World Series roster. The Red Sox, for what seems like the first time ever, don't have a bona fide superstar like Adrian Gonzalez. The closest thing to one is 37-year-old David Ortiz, who is currently on the disabled list. The motto going into this season, especially after the past few years of missing the playoffs and media scrutiny, has been "We can only go up from here!"
And they have.
New manager John Farrell is a far cry from last year's Bobby Valentine fiasco. Farrell, a former Red Sox pitching coach, is similar in temperament to Terry Francona, the man who led Boston to those 2004 and 2007 titles. His calm approach to the game has been a welcome presence and has enabled the new players to mesh with the old. Fans are hoping he is their new Francona.
It also helps that the bats are alive again and the pitching has returned to form too.
Last year's 27th ranked pitching staff (4.70 ERA) is now second in the league (2.66). Two big reasons behind that improvement is the reemergence of aces Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. In 2012, Lester and Buchholz threw 4.82 and 4.56, respectively. This year, both have an ERA below 2.00. Newcomer Ryan Dempster is doing what he was brought in to do, which is eat up innings with quality starts. He also happens to be leading the team in strikeouts with 25. Offensively, Shane Victorino, another new addition, leads the team with .333 average, and Dustin Pedroia is not far behind with his .315. Hopefully, whenever he returns, Ortiz can put up the same numbers that he has put up the past two seasons (.318 average, .415 on-base percentage). And in the field, they are second-best with two errors on the year.
And in the media? The Red Sox are hardly even being mentioned. For once.
The Red Sox are off to an auspicious, unexpected start, and it is far too early to be making any predictions. But when October rolls around don't be so surprised if the Red Sox are battling for a playoff spot. Things are already looking up for the Boston Red Sox.