10 Reasons Why the Red Sox Are Legit Contenders for the World Series
The Boston Red Sox are almost always considered to be one of the best teams in the Major Leagues, especially since they came back from trailing the New York Yankees three games to none in the 2004 ALCS to winning the World Series
Then in 2007, they came back three games to one against the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS wound up beating the hot Rockies to win the World Series once again.
With a great starting rotation, a strong bullpen, and a good starting lineup, the Red Sox will be legit contenders for the World Series again this year, and here are the top 10 reasons why.
1. Dustin Pedroia
Pedroia went from being a below-average second baseman batting under .200 to winning Rookie of the Year in 2007, finishing the season batting over .310 and a World Series ring.
The year after that, he won the AL MVP, batting over .320 with over 213 hits. He also won a Gold Glove award.
Pedroia is a young talent who performs well under pressure and does whatever he has to to help his team win.
2. Kevin Youkilis
Youkilis is one of the better first baseman in the Major Leagues, hitting over .300 for the past two seasons.
He hasn't been the kind of a long-ball threat that a guy like Mark Teixeira is, but he will hit at least 15-20 every year.
A superb defender, he can catch anything that comes at him, from a bad throw to a diving stop. In 2007, he won his first Gold Glove.
Normally a third baseman, Youkilis can play the corners and, if need be, the outfield.
3. Jacoby Ellsbury
"Wow" is all I can say about this kid.
He is one of the fastest players in the Majors and lead the American League in steals with 50 in 2008.
Ellsbury is also one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball, especially considering that he made his first error of of his career on Thursday against the Florida Marlins—in his 234th game.
This kid gives it his all to make every single play, risking his body to get the outs.
He finished third in Rookie of the Year voting in 2008.
4. David Ortiz
This was the man who set the record for most home runs hit by a Red Sox player, swatting 54 to break Jimmie Foxx's record of 50.
Since Manny Ramirez was traded to the Dodgers, Ortiz has been in quite the slump. He is starting to get better though, and four of his five home runs this season have been in the last 15 games or so.
I think he'll finish the season a lot stronger than he started it.
5. Mike Lowell
Even with a bad hip, Lowell is still doing a lot better than expected. He is 35 years old, but is still considered one of the better third baseman in the American league.
So far, Lowell is hitting .291 with 10 home runs and 41 RBI.
Defensively, he is pretty much as good as it gets. Even with his bad hip and his age, he still dives after any ball.
Lowell currently has only one one Gold Glove and that was back in 2005 with the Florida Marlins.
6. Jason Bay
He isn't a better hitter than Manny, but he is a better overall player with a much better attitude.
Right now, Bay is in the top five in the American League in both home runs and runs batted in. His average isn't overwhelming, batting .281, but he is a good fielder who won't make too many errors and also has decent speed.
Bay has hit 17 home runs and leads the league with 63 RBI.
7. Jon Lester
Lester persevered through incredible hardship after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma—a deadly cancer—back in 2006.
The year after that, he threw a no-hitter against the Kansas City Royals and won his first World Series over the Colorado Rockies.
In 2008, Lester had his best year, posting a 16-6 record while recording a 3.21 ERA in 210 1/3 innings. He also struck out 152 batters.
Currently, he has a 5-6 record. His sixth loss came against the Marlins Thursday night when officials called off the game in the sixth inning due to rain.
The Red Sox lost 2-1.
8. Josh Beckett
Beckett has been one of Boston's key starters since joining the team back in 2006. He has never been a sub-3.00 ERA type of pitcher, but he has a good offense backing him up.
From 2006-2008, Beckett racked up double-digit wins, has pitched 174 or more innings, and struck out at least 158 or more batters in each season.
Currently, he has a 7-3 record with a 4.15 ERA while striking out 81 batters. He is projected to have a 17-7 record with 199 strikeouts while pitching in over 200 innings.
9. Tim Wakefield
I've got just one word for this guy: fantastic.
The 42-year-old pitcher is leading his team in wins with nine, and has recorded a 4.39 ERA.
Wakefield is a knuckle ball pitcher, able to fool most players with its sporadic movement and slow speed. In two out of the past three seasons, he recorded double-digit wins, including 17 back in 2007.
He is projected to finish the season with a 22-7 record while striking out 115 batters in 201 innings.
10. Jonathan Papelbon
As you can see, this man has a lot of heart.
A few years back, the Red Sox wanted Papelbon to be a starter. Instead, he wanted to continue being the closer.
It's paid off.
From 2006-2008, Papelbon has posted at least 35 saves, a 2.34 ERA or better, and has appeared in 59 or more games with at least 58 innings per year.
Currently, he is second in the AL with 16 saves, and is projected to have 39 saves before the season's end.