First of All, the Red Sox were not just terrible last season but even the season before that. The collapse of the 2011 season came out of nowhere, even though the team did start the season 11-15 in the month of April. Although they pulled it together through the summer, a 7-20 September came their way and dropped them out of the payoffs on the last day of the season. From there, Terry Francona and Theo Epstein were fired and replaced with Bobby Valentine and Ben Cherington, respectively.
The 2012 season was no better, with the team finishing the year 69-93, last in the American League East, behind the likes of the Toronto Blue Jays. The team was simply a mess. The team was in the league’s bottom half of pitching, with an ERA of 4.57, according to the MLB website. The team’s best pitcher, Clay Buchholz, held a record of 11-6 and a 4.47 ERA. As well, the players built a mutiny against manager Bobby Valentine, who was fired at the end of the season.
This only adds to the issues the team had. How does the team that was basically the worst in the majors, become one of the best within a season? Well, let’s look at the most important decision the John Henry and company did—they hired a manager the players already knew and respected.
The Sox brought back former pitching coach, John Farrell, and made him the manager. He originally ran with the team from 2007 to 2010, picking up a World Series ring in his first year. In 2011, he became the manager for the Toronto Blue Jays, putting up a 154-170. With a record like that, why would the Sox sign him? He knew the squad. He knew that the problem was not only the pitching, but also team moral. Farrell brought a familiarity with the organization and the players that Valentine lacked.
Clearly, this has led to change. On pitching alone the Sox are better, rising to have the MLB’s 15th best pitching rotation, accounted for by ERA. This is an improvement from last season’s 27th place. As well, a .251 opponents batting average is a strong rise from 2012’s .262.
As well, the team found strength in adding an all-around depth. Last season, on of the struggles was also with injuries, but this year, the team added Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino, who have contributed to the team have the most runs in the majors. As well, the team has been more willing to call up players from its minor league system, recently.
Altogether, the goal of this season has probably changed from where it started. Many fans were mostly hoping to break even and finish better than the Blue Jays. Nevertheless, with how the Sox are playing, a lengthy trip in the offseason doesn’t seem unreasonable. The team is sporting passion on their sleeves, and this is the type of baseball that Boston fans are used to seeing.