On Sept. 20, the Boston Red Sox clinched their third consecutive American League (AL) East title with an 11-6 win over the New York Yankees. The Red Sox currently have the best record in Major League Baseball (MLB), with 105 wins and only 50 losses as of Sept. 23. In fact, their 105th win against the Cleveland Indians on Sept. 21 tied the franchise record for the number of wins in a season. With this title, the Red Sox secured their berth in postseason play and will likely capture the first-seeded position for the AL Division Series.
This season’s incredible success can be attributed to a combination of new and old faces in the dugout. After last year’s season, the Red Sox fired manager John Farrell, who had led the team since their 2013 World Series win, and replaced him with Alex Cora. Cora, most recently a bench coach for the Houston Astros, has no previous managerial experience. However, he has over a decade of experience playing infield in the MLB, including a four-year stint in Boston from 2005 to 2008. In a press release last October, President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski was enthusiastic about Cora’s prospects, noting, “Alex also has a full appreciation for the use of analytical information in today’s game and his ability to communicate and relate to both young players and veterans is a plus.” Chairman Tom Werner also highlighted Cora’s connection to a “championship culture”—he helped guide the Astros to a World Series win in 2017. The Red Sox have a long tradition of success in postseason championships, and so far, Cora seems to be maintaining it.
In addition to a lucrative leadership change, the Red Sox are benefitting from a solid group of players who seem to be reaching greater heights every season: Mookie Betts, who has the highest batting average in the MLB; J.D. Martinez, who has racked up over 40 home runs; Chris Sale, a star pitcher in contention for the Cy Young Award; Xander Bogaerts; Rafael Devers; Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. These seven players are young, but they make up for any lack of maturity with plenty of postseason experience. Including the 2018 season, the Red Sox will have appeared in the last three AL Division Series, so the players should know what to expect, mentally and physically, of October’s challenges. Also, after disappointing losses in the AL Division Series in 2016 and 2017, the team will be gunning for a divisional title that could eventually lead them to the World Series.
The Red Sox finish out their regular season with a three-game series against the Yankees at Fenway Park from Sept. 28-30. Their first postseason appearance will be on Oct. 5. There’s no doubt that the team is looking ahead as much as they are celebrating past accomplishments. “This is just the first step,” Benintendi told the Associated Press. “We came into the year expecting to win. We knew what kind of team we had.” And the kind of team they have may make it all the way to the World Series.