2008 was a bit of a disappointment after the terrific 2007 season. Boston made it to the postseason, but this time as the Wild Card. The Rays (they dropped the "Devil" in their name prior to the season) won the division. Boston beat the Angels in the ALDS but lost in seven games to the Rays in the ALCS.
FIVE FAVORITE PLAYERS
Youk won the Hank Aaron Award for the best hitter in the league in 2008. He was an All Star and finished third in the AL MVP race. He hit .312/.390/.569 with 29 home runs and 115 RBIs. It was the best season of his career although he would have some more good ones.
Pedroia surprisingly won the AL MVP in 2008. He was also an All Star for the first time and won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards. Pedroia hit .326/.376/.493 with 17 home runs and 83 RBIs with 20 stolen bases. He lead the league in runs (118), hits (213), and doubles (54). His defense was also spectacular.
Ortiz was injured early in the year but came back to put up decent numbers. His batting average slipped to .264 but he still managed 23 home runs and 89 RBIs in a shortened season.
Matsuzaka finished third in the AL Cy Young race and had a phenomenal 18-3 record with a 2.94 ERA and 154 strikeouts. However he did not pitch a ton of innings and he lead the league in walks (94). His record was deceptive.
For a time, J.D. Drew carried the Red Sox. He made it to his first All Star game and won the game's MVP Award in Yankee Stadium. He tied the game by hitting a home run in the seventh and continued to play well throughout the game. He ended the season at .280/.408/.519 with 19 home runs and 64 RBIs.
Lester built upon his successful comeback from cancer and emerged as a top-flight starter. He went 16-6 with a 3.21 ERA and lead the league in shutouts (2).
Papelbon was once again an All Star and had his standard season as the Red Sox closer, saving 41 games and striking out 77 in 69.1 innings.
Okajima's ERA rose a bit but he still had a successful season as setup man for Papelbon. He finished the year at 3-2 with a 2.61 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 62 innings.
If Sean Casey was the best off-season acquisition, it is obvious Boston did not do much after 2007. Casey was solely a backup to protect against injuries to Youkilis, Ortiz, and Mike Lowell. He did hit .322/.381/.392 but did not homer.
FAVORITE MIDSEASON ACQUISITION
Boston finally traded Manny Ramirez in 2008, shipping him to Los Angeles in a three team trade that brought Pirates star Jason Bay over. Bay stepped in to Manny's shoes quite well hitting .293/.370/.527 with nine home runs and 37 RBIs in 49 games. He also hit well in the postseason.
Boston has not traditionally been blessed with speed, but Ellsbury changed that, stealing 50 bases and leading the league. He also hit .280 and nine home runs. He finished third in the Rookie of the Year race.
As good as Ellsbury was, Masterson was probably more valuable. He pitched a lot out of relief and was a particularly effective weapon in the postseason. Masterson had a 3.16 ERA in 36 games, pitching 88.1 innings. He started nine games.
He made the All Star team, but was a questionable choice. His final numbers were the worst of his career as he hit just .220/.313/.359 with 13 home runs.
After pitching a no-hitter in his second start of his career in 2007, expectations were high for Buchholz to come in and join the starting rotation. Unfortunately the results were not great as he had a 2-9 record with a 6.75 ERA.
Bay hit .412/.474/.882 with two home runs in the ALDS and .292/.469/.458 with one home run in the ALCS.
After pitching well in the 2007 postseason, Beckett pitched poorly in 2008. He was 1-0 in three starts but his ERA was 7.20 in the ALDS and 9.64 in the ALCS.