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ALCS 2013: 5 Most Important Batters For Boston Red Sox

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ALCS 2013: 5 Most Important Batters For Boston Red Sox

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

The Boston Red Sox made sweeping changes near the end of last season. Gone was Bobby Valentine, who was said to be a locker room distraction and frankly a cancer. In came John Farrell, the former Red Sox pitching coach to manage the ball club.

If that wasn't enough change, they also shipped quite a few of their big ticket, high priced veterans to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Names like Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez were traded for basically a bag of baseballs. They also chose not to retain guys like Cody Ross, Marlon Byrd, Kevin Youkilis, and Jonathan Papelbon.

In the offseason, the Red Sox focused on bringing in players that would fit their culture -- gritty players who came to work with a lunch pail type of attitude. They got two men who fit the bill in Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli. Both are gritty players that give 100 percent for all 162 games and also are playoff performers in every sense of the word.

The Red Sox and general manger Ben Cherington did a masterful job of remaking the ball club after a disastrous year filled with turmoil. They now have as dangerous a lineup as there is in baseball and one that finished as the top run-producing offense in the league.

The Sox are loaded up and down their lineup. The changes they made in the offseason paid huge dividends as the Red Sox finished with the best record in the AL and are tied for the best record in baseball. Let's take a look at the five most important batters for the Red Sox.

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5. Jacoby Ellsbury

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Jacoby Ellsbury is the table-setter for the Red Sox lineup. The game's best leadoff man gets on base, steals bases, and gets this offense going. Ellsbury also flashes a great glove. He is invaluable to the Red Sox as a leadoff and power-hitting outfielder. The pending free agent is hopefully in the Red Sox' long-term plans.

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4. Shane Victorino

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyin Hawaiian has been a fantastic addition for the Red Sox. Victorino has been that gritty, heart and hustle presence that the Red Sox were lacking at times last season. Victorino's addition to the outfield is a huge reason for the Red Sox' drastic turnaround.

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3. Mike Napoli

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The slugging first baseman has been a godsend for the Red Sox. They weren't getting a lot out of the first base position in the past few years, and Napoli has come in and hit for power, gotten on base and played solid defense. He is another gritty veteran. The Red Sox are full of them.

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2. David Ortiz

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

Mr. Clutch. Big Papi. You can't think of the Red Sox without thinking of David Ortiz. The postseason loves this guy. This man is the big advantage the Red Sox have over every other ball club. He is simply the best, most clutch postseason performer in the active era of baseball. If you have Big Papi, you have a chance.

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1. Dustin Pedroia

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Dustin Pedroia is the leader and face of the ball club. He just does everything. He'll go and make an outstanding play in the field when called upon, he will get the big hit, and he will sacrifice his body and soul for the betterment of the ball club. Pedroia is simply a warrior on the baseball diamond. He also happens to be the best hitting second baseman in the game. The Red Sox recently locked him up to a long-term deal. Red Sox fans will be treated to the best second baseman in the game for a long time.