John Farrell was hired to replace Bobby Valentine as the manager and the Red Sox spent a lot of the money that they saved after trading away the contracts of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett. Some of the more injury-prone players also came back in a big way. Pretty much everything went right, and the result was their third World Championship since 1918. They won the AL East, then beat Tampa Bay in the ALDS three games to one, beat the Tigers in the ALCS in six games, and finally won the World Series over the Cardinals in six games.
FIVE FAVORITE PLAYERS
Pedroia had his first All Star season since 2010 and also won a Gold Glove, his third. It was an impressive season for the second-baseman as he hit .301/.372/.415 with nine home runs, 84 RBIs, and 17 stolen bases. He only missed two games all season.
David Ortiz hit 30 home runs for the first time since 2010 and came back from an injury-shortened 2012 season to lead Boston's offense in batting average, home runs, and RBIs. Of course he had a legendary postseason at the plate. He hit .309/.395/.564 with 30 home runs and 103 RBIs.
Like Ortiz, Ellsbury missed a significant chunk of time in 2012, and came back to have a more typical Ellsbury season, nothing like his monstrous 2011 season. He hit .298/.355/.426 with nine home runs and stole 52 bases to lead the league in his final season for the Red Sox.
Another player with a bounceback season was the left-handed Lester, who was Boston's best starting pitcher. He lead the team in wins (15) and strikeouts (177) while pitching to an ERA of 3.75 and then was lights-out in the postseason.
Had he stayed healthy, Buchholz could have won the Cy Young Award. He was that good. Instead, he had to settle for an incredible 12-1 record with a 1.74 ERA in 16 games. He was named an All Star for the second time. Unfortunately, it was obvious he was out of gas by the postseason.
The Venezuelan southpaw followed up a successful rookie season with a slightly better sophomore year. His strikeouts were down slightly, but his rate stats all improved and he won the same number of games, while losing fewer. He was impressive in the postseason out of the bullpen.
Nava had a breakthrough season in 2013, splitting time between the outfield and first base. He hit .303/.385/.445 with 12 home runs and 66 RBIs. Nava was in the Top 10 in the league in average and on-base percentage.
Tazawa settled in as the primary setup man after a brief failed audition for closer. He pitched in 71 games, going 5-4 with a 3.16 ERA and 72 strikeouts versus just 12 walks in 68.1 innings.
One season after leading the Red Sox with 25 home runs, Saltalamacchia dipped to just 14 in 2013 but the rest of his hitting stats were more impressive. Saltalamacchia, in his final season with the Red Sox, hit .273/.338/.466 and became the first Red Sox catcher to hit 40 doubles in a season. He had a big moment with a walkoff hit in Game 2 of the ALCS against the Tigers.
Coming back from Tommy John surgery, Lackey had his best season to date for the Red Sox in 2013, winning 10 games and leading the team with a 3.52 ERA. He had a 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio. Lackey won the final game of the World Series, completing a terrific comeback season.
Boston signed a number of middle-tier free agents for the 2013 season, but none had a better year than Victorino. The right-fielder won the Gold Glove award and hit .294/.351/.451 with 15 home runs, 61 RBIs, and 21 stolen bases. He was particularly impressive down the stretch after giving up on switch-hitting. Victorino had two huge moments in the postseason, hitting a grand slam in the final game in the ALCS and a bases-clearing double in the final game of the World Series.
The co-ringleader of the beard committee, along with Jonny Gomes, Napoli was supposed to be the biggest free agent signing. He did hit 23 home runs and drove in 92 runs while learning a new position: first base. He hit .259/.360/.482 for Boston and played a terrific first base. He should have won a Gold Glove himself.
Something of an under-the-radar signing, nonetheless Koji was perhaps the biggest acquisition of all. After Joel Hanrahan was injured, Boston needed a closer. Koji stepped in and had one of the greatest seasons as a closer for the Red Sox of all time. He saved 21 games with a 4-1 record and a mind-boggling 1.09 ERA while striking out 101 and walking nine in just 74.1 innings. He was even better in the postseason, winning the ALCS MVP.
FAVORITE MIDSEASON ACQUISITION
Unfortunately, Peavy cost Boston Jose Iglesias, but he helped solidify the rotation while Buchholz was hurt. He was 4-1 in 10 games with a 4.04 ERA. He was the only major pickup Boston obtained during the season.
It is true that Iglesias was traded away at the trading deadline, but he was the only Red Sox rookie hitter to play any significant amount of time in 2013. His glove was never a concern, but Iglesias actually hit very well with a slash line of .330/.376/.409. His numbers declined somewhat with the Tigers, but he still finished second in the Rookie of the Year vote.
Workman made it into 20 games and struck out 47 in 41.2 innings. He started three games and finished with a record of 6-3 and a 4.97 ERA. He pitched his way onto the postseason roster and pitched his way to 8.2 innings without allowing an earned run.
Yet another trade for a closer gone awry. Hanrahan cost the Red Sox Mark Melancon who became an All Star with the Pirates, as well as some young players. Hanrahan only pitched in nine games, saving four, before going down for the season and had a 9.82 ERA. His injury paved the way for Koji Uehara to become a dominant closer though.
After a strong rookie showing, Middlebrooks had trouble at the plate, hitting just .227/.271/.425. He did hit 17 home runs, but struck out 98 times in only 348 at-bats and generally performing poorly in the field. Boston eventually replaced him with Xander Bogaerts.
Was there any doubt? Ortiz had a postseason for the ages. He hit two home runs against Tampa Bay in the ALDS, both off of David Price. Then he hit a dramatic game-tying grand slam off of Joaquin Benoit of the Tigers in Game 2 of the ALCS which Boston later won. Then he went completely nuts in the World Series, hitting an otherworldly .688/.760/1.188 slash line, for an utterly insane 1.948 OPS. He was the obvious choice for World Series MVP.