For the Fenway faithful, 2010 was a year to forget.
Their team battled injuries, bad luck and substandard play en route to a third-place finish in the AL East—the Red Sox’s lowest showing since 2006. Not even the once-beloved David Ortiz was immune from fans’ scorn.
But the offseason has been a different tale, one filled with prosperity and providence. To date, Boston has:
1. Acquired three-time All-Star Adrian Gonzalez from the Padres.
2. Won the Carl Crawford sweepstakes.
4. Laughed at the Yankees missing out on Cliff Lee.
To fill in for the departed Adrian Beltre, the Sox traded for the services of Gonzalez, the slick-fielding slugger from San Diego. Gonzo's arrival permits Boston to move Kevin Youkilis to third and plants Big Papi permanently at the DH spot.
The acquirement of Crawford came as somewhat of a surprise, as the baseball world equated the Gonzalez deal to Boston bowing out of obtaining the Tampa Bay outfielder. Crawford not only brings his defensive prowess to Fenway but also adds speed to a relatively slow-footed Red Sox roster.
Although both had relatively down years, the additions of Jenks and Wheeler should help alleviate the pedestrian pitching of the bullpen.
While Red Sox Nation was undoubtedly elated by the first three proceedings, the fourth delivered just as much delight thanks to the deep-rooted dislike those in New England have for their New York cohorts.
However, the Pinstripes' loss is the Phillies' gain. The addition of Lee to Philadelphia's arsenal of arms has many predicting a red-and-blue reign over the Senior Circuit. If highly heralded prospect Domonic Brown, who hit .327 with 20 bombs in two levels in the minors last season, lives up to his billing, Philly appears to be the team to beat in the NL.
The offseason overhauls of the Sox and Phils have made each the prohibitive favorite in their respective leagues. So if these projections come to fruition, which team would be crowned world champs? Thanks to the WhatIfSports baseball engine, we were able to simulate a series between Boston and Philadelphia 255 times. Here is a sample series indicative of the result:
|WP: Roy Halladay LP: Jon Lester|
|Player of the Game: Roy Halladay (CG, ER, H, 8 K)|
The opening game of our series highlighted a pitchers' duel between two starters with no-hitters under their belts. Boston struck the first blow of the series with an RBI triple from Dustin Pedroia in the third inning to give the Sox a 1-0 advantage. Unfortunately for Red Sox Nation, that’s the only production the vaunted Boston lineup could muster, as Philadelphia starter Roy Halladay kept the Boston batters at bay.
Jon Lester held his own against the 2010 NL Cy Young winner, but a two-run double by Raul Ibanez in the seventh put the Phils on top 2-1. Ryan Howard added a groundout RBI in the eighth, providing more than enough insurance for Halladay, as Philadelphia took the first game of the series 3-1. Halladay pitched a complete game, surrendering just five hits while striking out eight.
|WP: Cliff Lee LP: Bobby Jenks|
|Player of the Game: Cliff Lee (CG, SHO, 3 H, 6 K)|
|Simulation BA Leaders|
Lee validated his $120 million deal by submitting a gem to his already impressive postseason résumé, shutting out the Red Sox in a 1-0 victory as Philadelphia marched out to a two-game series lead.
Clay Buchholz was just as electrifying, going seven innings without conceding a run. However, setup man Jenks yielded hits to Howard and Placido Polanco in the eighth, resulting in a go-ahead RBI single from Ibanez. Through two games, the Red Sox roster has managed just eight hits against the Philadelphia pitching staff.
|WP: John Lackey LP: Cole Hamels|
|Player of the Game: Carl Crawford (4-for-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI)|
The Boston bats finally awoke from their series slumber to light up the scoreboard for eight runs, as the Red Sox took Game 3 by a score of 8-3. Offseason acquisition Crawford was the catalyst for the offensive attack, belting two bombs and driving in four runs. Pedroia added three RBI of his own, and Sox starter John Lackey went the distance, allowing just three runs on the day.
While historically assertive in the postseason, Philadelphia pitcher Cole Hamels got shellacked for six runs on 11 hits in just five innings of work.
|WP: Roy Oswalt LP: Josh Beckett|
|Player of the Game: Placido Polanco (3-for-4, 3 RBI)|
|The Fantastic 4|
|Philadelphia's Starting Four ERA||(Avg.)|
A barrage of line drives and walks correlated with success for Charlie Manuel’s squad, as Philadelphia’s 8-2 thrashing left the Phillies one game away from the title. Sox starter Josh Beckett was knocked out early, giving up six hits and issuing four walks in four innings. Third baseman Polanco contributed three hits and three RBI to spur Philly, with Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz each adding two hits to the cause.
Roy Oswalt shut down the Sox for eight innings, limiting Boston to two runs and striking out 10. While the pitching has been relatively solid, Boston’s lineup has been atrocious, as Kevin Youkilis (.059), J.D. Drew (.111) and Ortiz (hitless) have struggled mightily.
|WP: Bobby Jenks LP: Roy Halladay|
|Player of the Game: Dustin Pedroia (2-for-5, game-winning RBI)|
Boston evoked memories of its 2004 ALCS comeback with an extra-inning walk-off hit to avoid elimination in Game 5. A rematch of Game 1's epic showdown between Halladay and Lester did not disappoint, as both men were still standing on the mound in the ninth inning.
A Crawford two-run single and a Youkilis double translated into a three-run third for the Sox, but Halladay survived the early-inning threat. The Phils managed a run off of a wild pitch in the fourth, and a Polanco single brought home Rollins in the sixth. But heading into the ninth, Boston led by a count of 3-2. Yet down to their last out, Ruiz lined a single to center off Lester to tie the game.
Nevertheless, the Sox would get the last laugh on this night, as hits from Marco Scutaro and Jacoby Ellsbury gave Pedroia a chance to be a hero. The former MVP obliged, sending a ground ball into right field as Boston came back to win the ball game 4-3.
|WP: Cliff Lee LP: Clay Buchholz SV: Brad Lidge|
|Player of the Game: Cliff Lee (7.2 IP, 2 ER, 10 K)|
|Team||Total Series Wins (255 simulations)|
There’s much rejoicing in the City of Brotherly Love, as Lee delivered another postseason masterpiece on the way to a 3-2 win, clinching the series for Philadelphia. Lee whiffed 10 batters in 7.2 innings of work, holding Boston to four hits and two runs. Making his first appearance of the series, Brad “Lights Out” Lidge worked an eventful ninth, surrendering a walk to the tying run Gonzalez before striking out Ortiz and Jed Lowrie.
Chase Utley paced the Philadelphia offense with a two-run single in the third, while Scutaro smacked a solo shot in the losing effort for Boston. Lee earned series MVP honors with 16 strikeouts in 16.2 innings to go along with an ERA of 1.08.
Create your own World Series Dream Team from WhatIfSports.com.