MLB

Forgotten Ones of the 2000s: Boston Red Sox

Heading into the 2000s, the Red Sox were locked in an 80-plus year curse where they failed to win the World Series. After their World Series victory in 1918, the Red Sox failed to make it back to the promised land until 1946, then again until 1967, then again until 1975, and then again until 1986. Each time they made it back, they came up short. After their 1986 heartbreaking World Series loss to the Mets, the Red Sox fortunes started changing. They began making the playoffs more often, earning playoff berths six times from 1986-1999. However, the team knew they couldn’t stop at just making the playoffs, and when the 2000s hit, the Red Sox turned their 1900s misery into a 2000s dynasty.

Of course, the Red Sox had plenty of help along the way. With players the likes of David Ortiz, Nomar Garciaparra, Manny Ramirez, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Pedro Martinez, Jon Lester, and Chris Sale on their roster at one point or another, it’s no surprise that the Red Sox made the playoffs ten times and won four World Series titles since 2000. Despite a ton of big-name talent, the Red Sox also got help from a few other sources that don’t get talked about often.

ADRIAN BELTRE (2010)

It’s easy to remember Adrian Beltre’s career success. Being a six-time top ten MVP finalist, winning multiple Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards, and (perhaps most importantly) joining the 3,000-hit club definitely puts any player above the rest. However, when you break Beltre’s career down by year, you’ll notice one small blip in the radar: 2010 with the Boston Red Sox.

Beltre is obviously most known for his years in Los Angeles, Seattle, and Texas, but his one year in Boston often gets overlooked. In that year, Beltre was selected to the MLB All-Star Game for the first time. He also set a career-high in doubles (49, which also led the league). He hit .321 that year, which led the Red Sox and was his third-highest single-season batting average in his career. Combine that with 28 home runs, 102 runs-batted-in, 84 runs scored, 326 total bases, and a 7.8 WAR, 2010 was definitely one of Beltre’s best seasons.

MIKE TIMLIN (2005)

 In 2004, the Red Sox finally ended their longtime World Series drought by winning the 2004 World Series against the Cardinals. In 2005, the Red Sox weren’t looking to stop with just one title, and they managed a 95-win season and a spot in the playoff as the AL Wild Card team. Throughout the season, however, pitching was an issue. Staff ace Curt Schilling was injured throughout the season, and unreliable when healthy. The bullpen struggled as well, which led to the Red Sox finishing the season with a 4.74 team ERA, which was among the worst in the league.

While the pitching staff struggled, it wasn’t because of Mike Timlin. In fact, Timlin was easily the team’s most reliable bullpen arm that year. The 39-year old Timlin appeared in 81 games that year, which led the league and was a career-high. He finished with a 2.24 ERA, 203 ERA+, 2.70 FIP, 24 holds, and 13 saves. Timlin’s walk rate was relatively low, and in 81 games, he only allowed two home runs. It can be easy to overlook relief pitchers, but 2005 was arguably Timlin’s best year, and he was one of the key contributors to the Red Sox playoff push.

DUSTIN PEDROIA (2016)

Dustin Pedroia began his career on an incredible note, winning the AL Rookie of the Year in his first full season, and the AL MVP award in his second. Pedroia helped lead the Red Sox to multiple playoff appearances and two World Series championships. Things began to turn in 2012, though, as Pedroia started to spend more time on the shelf with injuries. Following a full season in 2013, Pedroia spent time away nursing injuries in five of his next six seasons, including only playing a total of nine games in 2018 and 2019 combined.

The one bright spot during that time was 2016. At that point, the Red Sox were three years removed from their third World Series championship since 2004, with very disappointing campaigns in 2014 and 2015. When factoring in David Ortiz’s retirement year and Rick Porcello’s breakout Cy Young season, not to mention Boston’s return to the playoffs, Pedroia’s 2016 season often gets overlooked. He played in 154 games, his most since 2013, recorded his second 200-hit season, his first since his 2008 MVP season. Pedroia also scored 105 runs, drove in 74, hit 36 doubles, recorded a .825 OPS, and finished with a 5.4 WAR.

DREW POMERANZ (2017)

One year later, the Red Sox success was continuing as Boston won the AL East for the second-straight season. The Red Sox were without David Ortiz for the first time since 2002, but the addition of Chris Sale gave the team high hopes. Thankfully for the Red Sox, Sale produced a fantastic 2017 campaign, finishing with a 17-8 record and 308 strikeouts, while the rest of their rotation dealt with a variety of injuries. Originally, Sale, David Price, and Rick Porcello were going to be the Red Sox one-two-three rotation punch, but Porcello massively regressed from his 2016 Cy Young season, and Price dealt with elbow injuries and off-the-field drama as well.

After acquiring him from the Padres in 2016, the Red Sox turned to Drew Pomeranz to fill the rotation hole, and he did so successfully. Despite a mediocre half-season with Boston in 2016, Pomeranz rebounded with a 17-6 record (career-high in wins and win-loss percentage) and a 3.32 ERA in 32 starts (career-high). He also set career-highs in WAR (3.9), batters faced (740), and innings pitched (173.2 IP). Despite struggling in the playoffs that season (and ultimately struggling next season overall), Pomeranz at least proved he could be counted on as a solid rotation option.

ADRIAN GONZALEZ (2011)

Everyone knows about the 2011 Boston Red Sox. If not, here’s a refresher: they started in the refrigerator, eventually hit the stove, and then crashed head-first into a pile of ice. In baseball terms: the Red Sox started the season cold, were almost unbeatable during the summer, and finished 7-20 in September to miss the playoffs after leading the Tampa Bay Rays by NINE games in the AL Wild Card race. It seemed as though everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong, and a Red Sox team favored to compete for the American League pennant didn’t even make the playoffs.

The Red Sox had plenty of injury and roster issues, but definitely not because of Adrian Gonzalez. Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, most fans will remember the collapse more than anything else. The 2011 season, however, may have been Gonzalez’s best season. He set career-highs in hits (213), batting average (.338), on-base percentage (.410), runs scored (108), total bases (345), and WAR (6.9, tied with 2009 season in San Diego). Gonzalez also won his first Silver Slugger award, third Gold Glove award, and was selected to his fourth All-Star Game. Gonzalez’s consistency was undeniable: he hit .283 or better in each individual month of the season and won the AL Player of the Month award for June after hitting .404 with six home runs.

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