Ugh, the 2011 season. Honestly, I don't remember a more infuriating season. After a terrific offseason in which the team picked up Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, Boston started off the season terribly, losing their first six games. Then they became the best team in the league. Until September. Somehow, that month they completely folded. They ended the season at 92-70, in third place, and missed the playoffs. After the season, Terry Francona was fired, GM Theo Epstein jumped ship, and stalwart players Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield, Mike Lowell, and J.D. Drew all retired.
FIVE FAVORITE PLAYERS
Ellsbury should have been the AL MVP, but instead finished second, possibly mostly due to the fold at the end of the season. Ellsbury became the first ever Red Sox player to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases. He finished at .321/376/.552 with 32 home runs and 105 RBIs. He stole 39 bases and scored 119 runs. He won the Silver Slugger and the Gold Glove and was an All Star for the first time. It was a terrific season that really stands out in looking at his career.
After being acquired in a big trade in the offseason, Gonzalez did not disappoint. He was one of the top hitters on the team and nearly won the Home Run Derby. Gonzalez finished the season at .338/.410/.548 with 27 home runs and 117 RBIs and lead the league with 213 hits. He won the Silver Slugger and the Gold Glove. It was a terrific season for the new acquisition.
Another player with a phenomenal MVP-type season, Pedroia ended with a line of .307/.387/.474 with 21 home runs, 91 RBIs, and 26 stolen bases. He also contributed Gold Glove defense at second base. It was somewhat lost in the midst of the seasons by Ellsbury and Gonzalez, but this was Pedroia's best season of his career.
Also lost in the midst of the other good years was another great season from Ortiz, who hit .309/.398/.554 with 29 home runs and 96 RBIs. He won the Silver Slugger and made it to the All Star team, further distancing himself from the bad starts in 2008 and 2009.
Youkilis was starting to fade in 2011, finishing with a slash line of .258/.373/.459 with 17 home runs and 80 RBIs. It was a decent season, but was a far cry from his terrific seasons in 2008 and 2009. Coming along with that was a change back to third base. Youkilis was never as impressive defensively at third as he was at first. But Adrian Gonzalez had to play somewhere.
The shortstop quietly had a pretty good season and actually played quite well down the stretch. He finished with a line of .299/.358/.423 with seven home runs and 54 RBIs. He also played well defensively.
In his first full season as the Red Sox catcher, Saltalamacchia hit 16 home runs and drove in 56 runs. His slash line was not terribly impressive, but he showed an ability to come through in clutch situations and had some pretty good power for a catcher.
In his final season as a Major Leaguer, Varitek still provided some pop as a backup catcher. He hit 11 home runs and drove in 36 in 68 games and announced his retirement at the end of the year. It was a tough way to go out, but Varitek had a nice career.
See above for why.
He was a little-mentioned pickup from the Yankees but really solidified the bullpen, going 10-2 with a 2.61 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 110 innings. He was also an imposing presence on the mound and fun to watch.
FAVORITE MIDSEASON ACQUISITION
Erik Bedard was the big name, but Aviles actually produced in short work. He hit .317/.340/.436 while covering for the injured Kevin Youkilis at third base.
Not technically a rookie, but Reddick had only played in 56 games before 2011 and was just barely passed his eligibility, Reddick was the only real young player to get much playing time. J.D. Drew was hurt a lot, clearing the way for Reddick who had a memorable moment winning a game with a walkoff hit off Mariano Rivera. His numbers were solid, but not spectacular.
Who else? Despite signing a huge contract and coming off of a terrific season, Crawford never really got going offensively and he struggled defensively as well. His final slash line was a pretty bad .255/.289/.405 with 11 home runs and just 18 stolen bases. It was a far cry from his previous season.