Here's Why the Red Sox Can Win the World Series
After a shaky second-half of the season, the Red Sox still managed to secure the top wild-card spot in the American League and they swiftly knocked out the New York Yankees. Next up, the Red Sox will take on the top-seed Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS, a division rival who they went 8-11 against across 19 regular season matchups. While the Red Sox have a difficult road ahead, here is why fans should be optimistic about their chances.
1. They have one of the best offenses in baseball
The Red Sox have a deep lineup that boasts prolific hitters throughout the lineup. After dismantling Yankees ace Gerrit Cole and knocking him out after just two innings, the Red Sox offense has a ton of momentum that they will carry into the ALDS. Led by four all-stars in Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Kyle Schwarber, and J.D. Martinez, opposing pitchers won't be able to pitch around certain guys. Rounding out the lineup with Alex Verdugo, Hunter Renfroe, Kike Hernandez, Bobby Dalbec, and Christian Vazquez, the lineup is extremely well-rounded and can put up runs in a hurry. In the regular season, the Red Sox ranked third in OPS (.777), third in batting average (.261), second in slugging (.449), first in doubles (330), and fifth in runs scored (829). Despite any pitching shortcomings, this offense is capable of carrying the load and propelling the Red Sox to another championship.
2. They have experience playing in October
After winning the World Series in 2018, the Red Sox still have much of their core from that team. Sale, Eovaldi, Devers, Bogaerts, Martinez, Rodriguez, Vazquez, and Matt Barnes all return after playing important roles for the 2018 team. In addition, Kike Hernandez and Kyle Schwarber have had a lot of postseason success in the past. As a Dodger, Hernandez made tons of clutch plays in the postseason over the years and helped the Dodgers win the World Series last season. In fact, that was against Hunter Renfroe, who was a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. As for Schwarber, he was a key reason why the Cubs won the 2016 World Series as he hit for an impressive .412 batting average in that series. Up and down the roster, the Red Sox have a lot of past postseason experience and success. For a lot of teams, the added pressure that comes with postseason baseball can be too much to overcome. But for the Red Sox, they shine most under the bright lights and have the experience needed for a deep postseason run.
3. They have a starting rotation that can get hot
With Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Tanner Houck, this Red Sox rotation has a ton of potential. Earning his first all-star selection this year, Nathan Eovaldi has been the rock of this rotation and pitched like an ace in the Wild Card game, shutting down a dangerous Yankees offense. Behind Eovaldi, the rotation has been inconsistent. However, if Sale and Rodriguez can return to their pre-injury forms, this rotation could be one of the best in baseball. Sale, a seven-time all-star, is undoubtedly one of the best pitchers in baseball when healthy. Similarly, Rodriguez had a dominant year in 2019 before missing 2020 due to myocarditis. Rodriguez had a 19-6 record with a 3.81 ERA in 2019, ultimately finishing sixth in AL Cy Young voting. Additionally, a player who has really stepped up for the Red Sox this year has been Tanner Houck. Houck provides a ton of versatility for the Red Sox because he can start games or come out of the bullpen, as he did in the Wild Card game. After having three dominant starts in last year's shortened season, Houck has looked good this year as well, pitching to a 3.52 ERA. With Houck's emergence, the Red Sox have the luxury of using starters Nick Pivetta, Garrett Richards, and Martin Perez out of the bullpen.
4. Alex Cora
Despite all of the stars on the Red Sox roster, Alex Cora is their biggest difference-maker and is ultimately the reason why the Red Sox find themselves playing in the postseason again. After missing last year, Alex Cora has turned the last-place Red Sox team around and led them to another 90+ win season. Ever since Spring Training, Cora has believed in the Red Sox, and he made his players believe too. After a miserable 2020 season, it was hard for most to find optimism entering the 2021 season. But not for Alex Cora and the Red Sox. Despite getting swept by the Orioles to start the season, battling COVID-19 and injuries throughout the season, and relinquishing their division lead after the all-star break, the belief that this team could win it all has remained consistent. No matter the challenge, Cora has seemingly always clicked the right buttons during his tenure in Boston. With Cora at the helm, the Red Sox are a team that can never be counted out, and he could be the X-Factor to propel the Red Sox to another championship.