Go ahead and call this Red Sox season improbable, but it was more probable then the Red Sox winning it all in 2013. The Red Sox’ last World Series title came off the heels of arguably the two most embarrassing seasons in franchise history as the “chicken and beer” boys of 2011 got Terry Francona fired and the one-year Bobby Valentine era of 2012 was a joke from April through the end of September.
A common phrase used by fans in 2013 was “can they keep it up?” That team improbably (there’s that word again) did keep it up as nearly every player in their batting order had an above average year. Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Stephen Drew and Will Middlebrooks all exceeded expectations that year.
Almost all of the players in this year’s lineup are all performing above expectations but the difference here is that the Sox now have players who are just coming into their own. Mookie Betts (nine home runs, 35 RBIs) is still just 23-years-old. Xander Bogaerts (.345 batting average, 30 RBIs) is just 23-years-old. Jackie Bradley Jr. (.331 batting average, 37 RBIs) is just 26. Travis Shaw (.293 batting average, 35 RBIs) is just 26.
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Sure, one or two of them could fizzle out like Middlebrooks, but it’s obviously better to bloom early than late in baseball. Unlike in 2013, the Red Sox have a strong base of youth in their order and they have hard-hitting veteran players like David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez.
Ramirez is an interesting case in that it’s difficult to say whether or not he’s overachieving this year or just severely underachieved last year. The knock has been his lack of power, but he’s only hit 20 or more homers in a season six times in his 12 year career. Last year he hit 19, in 2014 he hit just 13 and in 2012 he hit just 10. Ramirez battled injuries along the way but the fact of the matter is he has been trending toward a spray hitter over a power hitter for a while now.
“He’s been pretty hot all year, I would say,” Shaw told NESN of Ramirez. “He’s hitting [around] .300. He’s another bat in the middle of the order, another guy who take you out of the ballpark at any single time, any single pitch. When the middle-of-the-order guys are clicking, and the bottom of the order can get on, and the top of the order can get on, this could be a dangerous lineup.”