Red Sox: Best Team Since 2000

Throughout the first two decades of the 2000s there have been four main teams that dominated the field. Only four teams won more than one championship during this time. But between the Giants, Yankees, Cardinals, and Red Sox, the Sox reign supreme.

Notable Managers

The Red Sox have had three different managers carry the team to the world series since 2000, which stands as the most in the league. There are four specific managers that stand out with the Red Sox during that time.

Jimy Williams:

From 1997 to 2001, Williams managed the Red Sox a relatively weak Red Sox team. They never made the playoffs in the 2000s with him as manager. But before that, he won manager of the year and made it all the way to the ALCS in 1999. After that peak, his career went downhill, and his relationship with GM Dan Duquette worsened. When the Red Sox slumped in August 2001, it was all the franchise needed to fire him. By the end of his time here, he was disliked by many in the front office, on the roster, and the majority of fans.

Terry Francona:

The Red Sox hired him to manage the club in 2004 and led them to a 98–64 record, the second-best record in the American League. The Red Sox swept the Angels in the Division Series, setting them up against the Yankees. They trailed the Yankees, three games to none, but the club miraculously won the next four games. This was the first time that any team won a playoff series after being stuck in a 0–3 deficit. The Sox carried the momentum into the World Series, sweeping the Cardinals and thus breaking the Curse of the Bambino.

Just two years later, they won the AL East Division. The Sox swept the Angels once again in the Division Series before dropping three of the first four games to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS. Like with 2004, the Sox went on a streak winning their next three games and advancing into the World Series. They once again swept the Fall Classic, this time against the Colorado Rockies, winning the Red Sox their second Championship in the 2000s. After regressing for years, in 2011 the Red Sox blew another chance to get back into the playoffs, which prompted the Red Sox to decline Francona’s contract option.

John Farrell:

In 2012, John Farrell joined the Red Sox from the Blue Jays. Just one year on the job, Farrell was named 2013 AL Manager of the Year. Not only that, but the Red Sox went on to win the World Series, going from worst to first. But with what would become common during his reign, the inconsistent Red Sox became struggled the next year, winning 71 games. Despite many high points, like winning their division, ultimately the next few years would convince the Sox to fire Farrell.

Alex Cora:

Cora assumed the role of manager in 2017, shortly following the firing of Farrell. Cora and the 2018 Red Sox finished with 108 wins and 54 losses. They made the playoffs and faced the Yankees in the first round. The Red Sox effortlessly eliminated the New York Yankees, three games to one. They advanced to play the Astros in the ALCS, where they handily defeated them in five games. Five more games later, the Red Sox would hoist their fourth Championship since the year 2000. He has recently renegotiated his contract and will stay with the team through the 2021 season with an option for an extra year.

Key Players

A team that is already top five among MLB teams in Hall of Famers, the Red Sox have boasted many talented players since 2000. Many of these key players will join in the historic ranks when they hang up the cleats (excluding Pedro, who has already made it).

Pedro Martinez:

Martínez was traded to the Red Sox in 1997 and was signed to a six-year, $75,000,000 contract (at the time the largest contract ever given to a pitcher). Starting back up in the 2000s, Martinez produced his best year. He produced an absurd 1.74 ERA, the AL’s lowest in 22 years, while winning his third Cy Young Award. Pedro’s record was 18–6, but was dominant even in his losses. In those six losses (48 innings), he had 60 strikeouts, a 2.44 ERA, and an 0.79 WHIP. The next year he was dominant when healthy, but spent most of 2001 with a rotator cuff injury. Martínez still finished with a 7–3 record, a 2.39 ERA, and 163 strikeouts.

But a now healthy Pedro dominated in 2002, leading the league with a 2.26 ERA and 239 strikeouts while going 20–4. Martínez became the first pitcher to lead the league in ERA, WHIP, strikeouts, and win %, yet not win the Cy Young. After another great year in 2003, he struggled during the regular season of the 2004 championship run, with a 3.90 ERA. He recovered for the playoffs and was instrumental in the win. He, unfortunately, chose to continue his success with the Mets, signing a slightly bigger contract (salary-wise) in the summer.

Manny Ramirez:

Despite being pursued by the Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees, and Seattle Mariners, Ramirez chose to sign an eight-year, $160 million deal with the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox did not qualify for the MLB postseason in 2001, despite Ramirez batting .306 with 41 homers. Ramirez spent the season as the DH, as management didn’t believe he should play right field. This was because of recent injuries and the presence of Trot Nixon, a great, young right fielder. Despite only playing 120 games in 2002, Ramirez won the AL batting title while hitting .349 and 33 HR.

While 2003 was another great year, it was plagued with a pair of controversies. He was spotted in a bar with Yankee Enrique Wilson, despite being supposedly too ill to play in the series against Wilson’s Yankees. This resulted in a one-game suspension by the team as they fell to the Yankees in seven games. He also happened to test positive for PEDs when the league took a “survey” so he faced no penalty. He played excellently over the next few years, including crucial performances in both the 2004 and 2007 World Series victories.

Despite stating he wanted to retire one day with the Sox as well as still playing amazing baseball, more controversies began popping up. He got in a fight with teammate Kevin Youkilis in the middle of a game, another one with elderly Red Sox secretary Jack McCormick, and was criticized throughout the season for a lack of effort while playing. He was traded in a three-team trade in July 2008, leaving with two championships and his name near the top of many Red Sox records.

David Ortiz:

After his release from the Twins, Ortiz had a chance encounter with Pedro Martínez at a restaurant. Pedro called up Red Sox officials to request that the team sign Ortiz, as they were in need of a 1st baseman. The team decided to at least test it out. Ortiz was given inconsistent playing time, so Pedro once again intervened and told manager Grady Little to play Ortiz whenever he was pitching. Ortiz began to heat up, so the Red Sox made him the regular DH. He finished the season batting .288 with 31 HR. Ortiz finished the next season with 41 home runs while batting .301, and formed a dangerous duo with Manny Ramirez. He also took his game to another level in the world series run, as he batted .400 with five home runs and 23 RBIs in the postseason.

After another great season in 2005, the Red Sox signed Ortiz to a four-year, $52 Million contract extension. He repaid the trust with a franchise record of 54 home runs in a season, while batting a solid .287. He was once again instrumental in the Sox;s World Series win of 2007, as well as 2013, cementing his clutch status. The fan-favorite slugger remained a crucial player even up to the year he retired in 2016. In his final year, Big Papi hit 38 home runs (most by a player in his final season) while batting .315. He is considered by most a top five Red Sox player of all time.

Dustin Pedroia:

Pedroia became the regular second baseman for the Red Sox in 2007 after finally being called up following the loss of Mark Loretta. He had a great rookie year, batting .317 while winning rookie of the Year. The following year he took an absurd jump. He won the AL MVP, Gold Glove, and Silver Slugger award for second base. He was the first-ever Red Sox second baseman to win a Silver Slugger Award, the first Red Sox second baseman to win a Gold Glove since 1972, and the first second baseman to win an MVP Award since 1959. He hit .326, 17 homers, stole 20 bases in 21 attempts and was one of the best defenders in the game.

He continued this style and quality of play, almost winning another MVP award in 2011. He continued to deal with injuries, from his fingers to his hamstrings, feet, and knees. But this didn’t stop him from staying a factor in the teams success and helped lead the team to his second championship in 2013. Following a handful more of good seasons, in 2017 he underwent knee surgery. This would turn out to be the start of his downfall. In 2018 he played three games in the majors, and got only one hit. He was sent down to the minors to continue rehab. Last year he played six games, this time getting two hits. Once again, he was sent back down to the minors for rehab, and has been there since. He continues to fight back into the league, and the former MVP could still find his way back on the roster.

Mookie Betts:

The lastest of the list of stars, Mookie could be another Red Sox great. Betts was promoted to the Majors in June of 2014. He performed well for the Red Sox in 52 games, hitting .291 with five home runs as a centerfielder. In 2015, he began to spend some time in right field, most likely in preparation for a permanent move in order to make space for Jackie Bradley, Jr. Betts once again batted .291, but with a jump to 18 home runs and 21 stolen bases.

In 2016, Betts would become a first-time All-Star, Gold Glover, and Silver Slugger. He finished as the runner up for AL MVP to Mike Trout. After offseason knee surgery, he fell off a little in 2017 with a .264 batting average and 24 home runs, but still winning a Gold Glove and being named an All-Star. He finally won his first MVP in a rebound season in 2018. He batted .346 (best in league) with 32 HR, 30 stolen bases, and 129 runs (best in league). Mookie also added a Gold glove and Silver slugger award in the effort to win his first championship. Last year, Betts appeared in 150 games while batting .295 with 135 runs (leading the majors) and 29 home runs. He could very well be traded this off-season, but his legacy in Boston is set in stone after his heroics in 2018.

Championship Seasons:

2004:

During the offseason, the Red Sox acquired ace Curt Schilling and closer Keith Foulke. These stars added to an already talented team made the Sox one of the best teams in the league. But due to a slow start to the season, the Red Sox traded star shortstop Nomar Garciaparra among others. After the move, the club won 22 out of 25 games and qualified for the playoffs. Boston began the postseason by sweeping the Anaheim Angels. This put them up against the Yankees in the ALCS. By Game Four the Sox found themselves on the brink of failure after being down 3-0. But miraculously, thanks in large part to David Ortiz, they won the next four games to advance to the world series. Four games later, they were World Series champions, breaking the curse.

2007:

The combination of star hitters like rookie Dustin Pedroia, pitchers like ace Josh Beckett, and managing genius Terry Francona came together in the form of a second championship. The Red Sox started by sweeping the Angels in the ALDS. Then, facing the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS, the Red Sox rebounded from a 3-1 deficit to win the series. The only thing in the way of a championship was the Colorado Rockies, which the Sox swept.

2013:

Boston became the 11th team in major league history to go from worst in the division to first the following season in 2013.  Farrell, the relatively new manager, was considered the main reason this turnaround was possible. He had the respect of his players, including stars like Lester, Pedroia, and Ortiz. Important acquisitions in the offseason also aided their quick rebuild, like David RossMike Napoli, and Shane Victorino. Starters John Lackey, Jon Lester, and Clay Buchholz combined with star closer Koji Uehara formed one of the best pitching staffs in the league. The team finished the season as 97–65, the best record in the American League. They beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2013 World Series, four games to two, for Boston’s third championship since 2004.

2018:

The Red Sox finished with a 108–54 (.667) record, winning the American League East division title for the third time in a row in the process. This was the first time since 1946 that they passed the 100-win mark, and broke the franchise record of 105 wins. The 2018 Red Sox were highlighted by All-Stars Mookie BettsJ. D. MartinezChris Sale, and Craig Kimbrel. As the top seed in the American League, the Sox defeated the Yankees in four games in the Division Series. They then defeated the defending champion Houston Astros in five games in the ALCS. Boston finished by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games in the World Series for championship number four.

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