Biggest Surprises for the Red Sox so Far This Season
The 2013 Boston Red Sox have been the surprise of Major League Baseball. Following one of the worst seasons in franchise history—in which they finished last in the AL East—Boston got off to a hot 12-4 start in 2013.
Currently at 27-19, the Sox are second in the AL East, and just 1.5 games behind the Yankees—a place where few fans thought they'd be a few short months ago.
Aside from the team's overall success, a few players have surprised Red Sox nation both individually and in a good way.
Here are the three biggest surprises for the Red Sox so far this season.
The first big surprise regarding David Ortiz this season was that he wouldn't be ready for Opening Day.
After missing the last two-and-a-half months of the 2012 season with an Achilles injury, fans were disappointed to learn that their star DH was still experiencing pain in spring training.
Ortiz started the season on the DL, and made his first Red Sox start on April 20. Nobody knew how he would play after being sidelined for nearly nine months.
However, the second surprise regarding Ortiz this season is that he definitely hasn't been playing like a 37-year-old just coming off an injury.
In fact, it's been quite the opposite.
Ortiz is batting .349 and is sporting the highest average amongst Boston starters. In 27 games, he's collected 36 hits, 29 RBI and seven home runs—including an OBP of .397 and a SLG of .632.
He's currently Boston's hottest bat—especially after his 3-for-4, two home run and six RBI game on Saturday.
It's only been a month, but his current average is the highest in his entire 16-year career. Big Papi is not over the hill just yet.
He may be Boston's No. 2, but Clay Buchholz is pitching like No. 1.
Despite losing the Opening Day nod to Jon Lester, Buchholz has launched himself on a strong campaign for the Cy Young—an especially impressive start coming off a season in which he went 11-8 with a 4.56 ERA.
Buchholz is currently a perfect 6-0 in nine starts with a 1.78 ERA—the best of Boston's rotation and the American League. He's allowed just 44 hits, 13 earned runs and struck out 69.
The Red Sox have lost just one game that he started on the mound.
Three of his starts were scoreless and he's only allowed more than two runs in a game once (four on May 6 against the Twins).
The Red Sox really can't hope for much better out of the 28-year-old, who seems to have reached his prime.
Jon Lester is widely regarded as Boston's ace, and his turnaround from 2012 is even more surprising than Buchholz's.
Lester hit a low point in 2012, going 9-14 with a 4.82 ERA. He had the lowest winning percentage of any major league pitcher with more than 200 innings.
But he appears to have returned to his old, winning form—starting 2013 with a 5-0 record. He was rocked a bit in his most recent start on Monday night—allowing six runs (five earned) off seven hits in six innings, and took his first loss of the season. That game raised his ERA to 3.15, which is still not all that bad.
Lester had allowed 45 hits, 18 earned runs and 50 strikeouts in 59 innings before Monday night.
On May 10, he pitched a near-perfect game—nine scoreless innings throughout which he gave up just one hit.
Lester is, by all accounts, back from the dead.