Red Sox Are In First Place and Exceeding All Expectations.
Photo Courtesy of Bleacher Report
Before the season started, I think most people thought the Red Sox and Yankees would be battling not to finish last, but instead they are battling for the top spot. And currently, it's the Red Sox who have the upper hand. A quick look at the MLB Standings tells you that the Sox are 2.5 games up, while the Yanks are tied with the Orioles for second. Let's take a look at why the Red Sox are on top, shall we? Here are my three keys to their success so far.
Let's start with with pitching. Yesterday, I made my case for Clay Bucholz winning the Cy Young award, and I stand by that. But it's more than that, though. It's JOn Lester, who has been almost as good, but he's going through a rough patch. Call me crazy, but I think when both Lester anc Bucholz are pitching on top of their game, the Sox have the best one-two punch in baseball, or one of the best, anyways. The bullpen has also been rock-solid for the most part, but some cracks may be showing, especially for current closer, Junichi Tazawa. He's had an increased work load, since he's been asked to fill in at closer, and he's started to feel the effects. Andrew Bailey is reasonably close to being back according to ESPN, so I hope that will ease the pressure on the rest of the pen.
Number 2 is the bats. It's hard to spotlight one person here. Dustin Pedroia leads the team in average (.333) and hits (75) ( I know, Jose Iglesias is hitting .434, but Pedroia has an every day player, Iglesias isn't...yet), David Ortiz leads in home runs (10), and Mike Napoli is leading the team in RBI's, according to ESPN. They've gotten back to basics, which they weren't doing during their lone bad spell, during which they got zero offensive production. The team is also spreading the wealth on offense, as they have 8 players with 20+ RBI's and Mike Napoli (9 homers) and Daniel Nava (8 homers) are breathing down Ortiz's neck for the lead in homers according to ESPN.
Last but not least is the production they've gotten from their back up players. The team has been hit hard with injuries and probably the biggest factor in their success so far has been the back ups coming up and having great success filling in for the injured players. Iglesias is a prime example. He's been hitting well (.434 average) and playing solid defense. Back ups not playing well has been killer in the past, and that's what makes this team a break from the past few years. The second string players this year have come in and steadied the ship throughout the season so far. How long can we keep going, though? Well, I hope to another parade in November (knock on wood, though).
Those are my three keys to our season so far. If you have any others leave a comment or Tweet me @ConorJF1016.