OK; I admit it: I the Boston Red Sox are going to win the 2013 Eastern Division title, and they stand an excellent chance to blow through the ALCS and represent the American League in the World Series as well.
I’ll even say it: I was wrong and you were right. But I still can’t fully explain it.
Is it really as simple as having gone out and gotten a clubhouse full of character guys this past off-season? Try to imagine this club without Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Jonny Gomes, and David Ross – or all the bearded visages – and there may be your answer.
Back in April, I wrote that “there are six players in particular whose performance … will make the difference between winning 79 and 88 games – and thus perhaps securing the second wild-card slot.” Let’s see how I did:
• Win total: Oops! Clearly off the mark. No points earned.
• Jacoby Ellsbury: Invaluable. Score one for me.
• Will Middlebrooks: Took a trip to Pawtucket to get him going consistently. Score one-half.
• Jose Iglesias: Took a trip to Detroit, but netted us Jake Peavy in return. Score one-half.
• David Ortiz: Indispensable. Perhaps a safe bet, but score one nevertheless.
• John Lackey: Where’s this guy been? Score another.
• Jackie Bradley, Jr.: Still embodying the future, but minor contributor to the present. Score nothing.
I then wrote: “For sure, the likes of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Mike Napoli, and Shane Victorino will play major role,” but I didn’t see them as the primary factors. Well, Napoli turned out to be better all-around than expected, and Victorino’s been a bulldog despite playing hurt. So no points to be gotten here.
Meanwhile, Lester and Buchholz both started out like houses afire before taking a pause (thanks to Lester’s inconsistency and Buchholz’s toddler-induced strained neck). Would the Sox be where they are without them? Probably not. Would the team be even further along had their performances been uninterrupted? Perhaps. So let’s call it one point for the two of them and then go do the math.
Eleven items, 5 points, a “correctness percentage” of .450 that places me precisely at the level of the NY Mets.
Oh, well, like I said: I was wrong and you were right. And I couldn’t be happier about the whole thing.