What else can baseball fans do in January but dream of October? In You May Say I’m a Dreamer, the Outside Corner staff will imagine the route to a World Series in 2012 title for all 30 teams.
The Boston Red Sox no longer dream of just getting to a World Series with the hopes of breaking the streak due to the Curse of the Bambino. They are now in the position of being perennial World Series contenders thanks to the team building of Theo Epstein (and to an extent, the moves of previous GM Dan Duquette, as well). So to think that after the collapse of 2011, the rise of the Rays, the oncoming train that is the Blue Jays and the team that is always ready to win 100 games in the Yankees, that the Red Sox would win it all in 2012?
Of course they did. After a 95-win season that saw them as the AL Wild Card, they took on the Tigers and won in the ALDS in a four game series, taking Game Four against Justin Verlander as Jon Lester outdueled him with an 11 strikeout performance. In the ALCS, they once again faced off with the Yankees, but instead of it going to seven games like many people believed it would, it only took six, with Clay Buchholz having himself his best ever postseason start. In the World Series, the Red Sox were too much for the Atlanta Braves, beating them in five games while racking up a ridiculous 42 runs. Kevin Youkilis won the MVP with a .427/.510/.650 performance, including three home runs.
And it was because they were finally healthy for an entire season. Josh Beckett pitched 34 starts with a sub 3.00 ERA and 210 strikeouts. Lester and Buchholz each racked up more than 200 innings. But the big story was Daniel Bard, who turned in a 3 WAR season in his first as a starter, mowing down the AL in the first half of the season before being put on a schedule in the second half to ease him in to the postseason. Once there, he turned into a dominant performer in short stints out of the bullpen.
Offensively, the Red Sox finally had that top to bottom lineup production they were hoping to get in 2011. Carl Crawford bounced back from a horrible 2011 to have a .285/.340/.450 season, something that still isn’t worth the money he’s getting paid, but nonetheless, a lot better than what the Red Sox got last year. But man, what a lineup. Jacoby Ellsbury showed his 2011 MVP performance was a repeatable performance, hitting .310/.368/.490 with 55 stolen bases, 25 homers and his usual stellar defense in center field. Adrian Gonzalez just threw up another .320/.395/.520 performance with his defense too. And who could forget David Ortiz (.290/.355/.494), Youk (.303/.400/.589) and Dustin Pedroia, who somehow became forgotten amongst the crowd, threw up a .294/.378/.476 line. Ho-hum to say the least.
All in all, Ben Cherington has to be happy with how the team has shaken out for 2012. And one can only hope that in 2013, the Red Sox will continue to prosper.