After finishing last in the AL East in 2020, few expected the Red Sox to be competitive this year and hardly anyone thought they would be in first place this late in the season. J.D. Martinez had the worst season of his career. The pitching staff was a disaster and Chaim Bloom did not sign any big-name free agents. The new additions he did make were suppose to have any significant impact. Yet everything is going right for the Sox as they are 50-31 and sitting in first place in the division. Much like this season the 2013 Red Sox found themselves in the same position, providing some hope for a deep postseason run. How does the 2021 Red Sox compare to the 2013 Red Sox?
Whereas the 2018 team had high expectations, few people thought the 2013 Red Sox were going to be competitive, much like in 2021. Boston was terrible in 2012, not one starting pitcher had an ERA under 4.00. Then-GM Ben Cherington made several under-the-radar additions they didn’t excite anybody.
Shane Victorino was coming off a down year with the Dodgers. Mike Napoli was taking over at first base and only made 28 appearances at the position the year before. Johnny Gomes could only hit against lefties. Koji Uehara wasn’t even supposed to be the team’s closer. Despite the little fanfare for these signings, each guy played an integral role in the team winning the World Series.
This year, Bloom signed Hunter Renfroe who struggled against righties but has brought power to the end of the lineup. He signed Enrique Hernandez who had a bad 2020 but has brought some power to the lead-off spot. He bolstered the bullpen by adding Adam Ottovino and Hirokazu Sawamura. The former had a terrible 2020 and the latter was relatively unknown coming out of Japan.
While nobody thought much of Bloom’s moves at first, almost all of them have paid off in someway to helping the team become a playoff contender.
Sudden Coaching Change
There was also some uncertainty with the coaching much like 2013. After Boston fired Bobby Valentine, the team hired former pitching coach John Ferrell. This year, after firing Ron Roenicke, the team brought back Alex Cora, who was suspended during the 2020 season. While the players were probably happy to have their old manager back, there were worries that Cora’s involvement in the Houston Astros scandal would be a distraction. To Cora’s credit, he has put the scandal behind him and has been completely focused on this season.
While many thought the Red Sox were simply overachieving early in the season, this team has had the underdog mentality to be competitive in just about every game they have played. Will this team 100 games? It might be tough, but certainly possible. The 2013 team was 48-33 halfway through the season and ended up winning 97 games and the division.
Another connection to the 2013 Red Sox? Xander Bogaerts is the last player remaining from that team. Despite playing in only 18 games during the regular season, he appeared in every game during the World Series.
There is still a lot of games left to be played and a lot can happen, but this team has proven their success can be sustainable. The 2013 Red Sox proved to us that expectations are worthless once the season starts and we know how that season ended.