The Boston Red Sox had one of the most unlikeliest and surprising championship runs in recent memory. Boston showed that you don’t necessarily need a huge payroll or an All-Star team to go all the way. Sometimes it is just team chemistry and playing really solid baseball that can make all the difference. Now that the Red Sox are sitting on top of the baseball world, the question can be asked, can they repeat next year?
A lot has to go right for a team to be able to end up as World Champions. It takes some players having outstanding seasons and it can also require a surprise or two. Also, a little luck can go a long way. All those factors happened with Boston as players like Koji Uehara and Shane Victorino had outstanding seasons that helped get Boston to where it wanted to be.
I feel that as much as another World Championship would be great, it isn’t likely to happen. When a team is the defending champions, all other teams are gunning for them. Boston can’t hide out in the bushes like they did last year. Most of the other teams in their division have made significant improvements and have reloaded nicely to make a serious run.
Boston is going to look a little different in 2014. They can’t rely so much on the running game with the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury. It may require a lot of patience at the plate and working walks to make up the difference. David Ortiz, who had a great year in 2013, isn’t getting any younger. Having Xander Bogaerts in the lineup all season long could help quite a bit.
The pitching also is going to really need to come through. Jon Lester showed that he is back as an ace. Jon Lackey went from pariah to hero and Felix Doubront seems to be maturing more and more each season. However, Clay Buchholz needs to be healthy from start to finish. He has all the talent in the world, but seems to be almost made of glass. As well, Koji Uehara needs to have the same type of season and that is questionable based on his age and health history. Picking up Edward Mujica was a really good move in case something does happen to Uehara.
So can Boston make another run? My guess is that they will do well, be competitive and make a significant run, but will probably be knocked out at some point in the postseason. Boston just had all the weapons they needed in 2013, but losing Ellsbury will make a bigger difference than perhaps they realize. Also, Uehara had a lights-out season and that will be hard to duplicate.
But Red Sox Nation shouldn’t be too upset. Three championships in a decade is pretty amazing when you stop and think of life as a Boston fan before 2004.