Player(s) of the Week: October 28-November 3, 2013
With a little twist in our normal Player of the Week segment, we thought it was appropriate to give it to the 2013 World Champion Boston Red Sox.
The Boys of Summer went from worst to first in one year. It all started when General Manager Ben Cherington hired John Farrell as the team’s leader for 2013. Then, the off-season signings that Cherington strategized could not have worked out any better. He hit on all of them bringing in high character guys who wanted to win.
It looks like fans have bought back into “Red Sox Nation” after an absolutely disastrous end to 2011 and all of 2012. Their brand is now restored after doing the unthinkable-winning a World Series Championship in a rebuilding year.
The Sox were led by their usual suspects all season long such as Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury, but newcomers Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino fit right in and played their part in a memorable season.
We cannot forget about John Lackey either. Yes, he was statistically the worst pitcher in baseball in 2011 and missed all of 2012 with an elbow injury, but he had a lot going on in his life. How did he bounce back in 2013? He went 3-1 in the post season with a 2.77 ERA. He also won the clinching game at Fenway Park in Game 6 of the World Series. (The first time Boston clinched at home since 1918)
Lackey wasn’t too shabby during the regular season, either. Despite a 10-13 record he logged 189 innings and posted a 3.52 ERA. This man was one of the biggest reasons why the Red Sox were able to accomplish their goal.
Every single person on this roster was phenomenal at some point in time. Koji Uehara was unhittable since the end of June and that is not an understatement. Junichi Tazawa set up Uehara appearing in 71 games with a 3.16 ERA. Craig Breslow was great all season long then was brilliant in the ALDS versus the Tampa Bay Rays. Felix Doubront shut down the Cardinals in the World Series. Clay Buchholz had a Cy Young caliber first half of the season before he got hurt, but then gutted out four innings in Game 4 of the World Series with the Sox backs against the wall. We could go on and on, but that is what it was like this year for the Boston Red Sox. Every guy stepped up no matter what the situation was.
Xander Bogaerts filling in at third base for a struggling Will Middlebrooks during the playoff run at 21 years-old was remarkable. Daniel Nava’s home run in Boston versus the Kansas City Royals the day after the Marathon suspect was apprehended. Nava ranked in the top 10 for outfielders in average, OPS and OBP as well.
From the bullpen coaches, to the bench coaches, pitching coaches, manager, general manager, ownership and players, this team deserved what it got-a championship for a city that struggled earlier in the year.
To see Jonny Gomes walk the trophy to the Boston Marathon finish line and wrap the “Boston Strong 617” jersey inside was a moment we will never forget. This team was about one another and the city of Boston not themselves. It symbolized the entire 2013 season. Once again-The Boston Red Sox-your 2013 World Champions.
In another twist, we will have some fun and look at what Red Sox players resemble your 2013 Boston Bruins the most. Here is what I came up with.
Patrice Bergeron/Dustin Pedroia: These guys are fan favorites. They are the heart and soul of their respective teams not to mention great athletes. Pedroia played the entire 2013 season with a torn ligament in his thumb performing at the highest of levels while Bergeron played in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals with a punctured lung. These guys just want to win and will do anything for their teams in the process. Both lead by example and they are respected by their teammates. Their statistics speak volumes of their consistency in one of the hardest places to play professional sports, but they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Zdeno Chara/Jon Lester: These two guys are just work horses. Chara logs an absurdly amount of minutes as a defenseman against the opposing team’s best offensive threats while Lester logs 200-plus innings every single year. Both of these guys rarely smile unless they are champions. They are all business at all times which make them great competitors. We recently saw what Lester did in the 2013 post season essentially being unhittable. Chara has been a staple for this team on the back-end and is tough to score upon. His size, reach and physicality are intimidating just like Lester’s 95 mph fastball in on your hands or his devastating cutter.
Tuukka Rask/David Ortiz: I mean, David Ortiz should be in his own category for his heroics during October. Whether it was 2004, 2007 or 2013 this guy just mashes. He was the MVP for a reason. He put the team on his back in the World Series. He was a leader this time around being the only 2004 champ remaining on the roster.
Rask answered his critics much like Ortiz did before the 2013 season. What will he be like as a full-time goalie? I think he handled it flawlessly. He may not have won a Stanley Cup, but he got his team to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals. He was simply phenomenal. He stole some games against Pittsburgh. Rask is a big-time goalie and will be in the conversation of Vezina Trophy candidates year after year. Ortiz and Rask both answered the bell and no longer have to answer questions of “can you do it?” anymore.