The Boston Red Sox are world champions for the fourth time in 15 years. Chris Sale’s nasty 1-2 slider brought Manny Machado and the Dodgers to their knees (literally), ending Game 5 and sealing the Red Sox’s 2018 World Series title, their first since 2013. After dominating the regular season, the Red Sox cruised through the postseason, dropping only a total of three contests and dispatching the Dodgers in five games in the Fall Classic.
With the exception of the record-setting, 18-inning marathon that was Game 3, the Red Sox looked to be in control most of the series, continuing their pattern of postseason dominance. As always seems to be the case in the MLB, the stars led the team to the postseason, but unlikely heroes propelled them to the title.
AL MVP candidates Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez powered the potent Red Sox lineup in the 2018 season, while longtime ace Sale anchored the rotation. However, it was mid-season acquisition first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce who came away with the World Series MVP trophy after hitting .333 with three home runs in World Series. Eduardo Núñez, who was a below-replacement level player during the regular season, sealed Game 1 with a three-run bomb over the Monster in left. David Price, who was on a run of 12 postseason starts without a win, vanquished his playoff demons, limiting the Dodgers to 3 runs in 13.2 innings of work.
While it may not seem like it has been a long time since the Red Sox won the championship in 2013, the five years that have since passed were enough for an almost complete overhaul of the organization. After a disappointing pair of seasons following their 2013 triumph, ownership made significant changes at the top of the totem pole, placing experienced executive Dave Dombrowski in charge of the front office.
Notorious for his willingness to dish out big contracts and deal prospects for proven talent, Dombrowski orchestrated a series of moves early in his tenure which would shape the 2018 ball club. In late 2015, the Red Sox acquired closer Craig Kimbrel from San Diego for a quartet of prospects. Boston also signed starting pitcher David Price, who would overcome his postseason woes in 2018, to a massive seven-year, $217 million contract. Five years later, only one player from the 2013 squad remains on the active roster: shortstop Xander Bogaerts.
The 2018 Red Sox did not accumulate 108 wins by accident. This was a really good ballclub last year, and an even better one this year, mainly because of changes made by ownership and the front office, but also because of players elevating their own games. Following their 3-1 loss to the Astros in the 2016 ALDS, Boston fired manager John Farrell and replaced him with Alex Cora, a relatively young, former player with no managing experience. The gamble would eventually pay off, as Cora effectively captured the heart of the clubhouse and Red Sox fans alike, leading them to the most wins ever in franchise history.
During that offseason, Boston also countered the Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton deal by signing slugger J.D. Martinez to a five-year, $110 million contract. Along with continued excellence from players such as Mookie Betts and Chris Sale, the Red Sox were also boosted by a rebound year from David Price as well as a breakout season from outfielder Andrew Benintendi, setting the stage for a remarkable year.
For Los Angeles, it is the second consecutive year losing in the World Series, and the accompanying feelings are probably a bit worse the second time around. At times, the Dodgers kept games close, but it often looked like the Red Sox were simply the better team. Los Angeles’ starting pitching was solid, but not remarkable, and while the bullpen had flashes of brilliance (the extra innings of Game 3), the complete meltdown in Game 4 was the turning point of the series, wiping out any momentum that L.A. may have garnered from their only November victory.
The Dodgers lineup also couldn’t get anything going, particularly with men on base, scoring a little over three runs per game. While Dave Roberts will likely serve as the scapegoat for Dodgers fans due to some particularly baffling calls regarding pitching changes, the holes in the roster which plagued the Dodgers all season, namely a lack of offense and surefire pieces in the bullpen, are more to blame for the loss.
The Dodgers’ front office made the biggest splash of all at the trade deadline, landing Orioles shortstop/third baseman Manny Machado. And while Machado was certainly good in the regular season for the Dodgers, the deadline darling’s lackluster postseason will likely leave Dodger fans wondering what could have been if the front office had been willing to make more in-season moves.
After such a remarkable run of regular- and postseason success, there is little doubt that the 2018 World Series champion Boston Red Sox are the best team in baseball. Outstanding leadership and play in all three facets of the game combined to produce one of the most dominating seasons by any club in recent memory.
While many baseball fans may not be happy about a franchise winning its fourth title in 15 years (particularly such a historically wealthy one), credit must be given where credit is due. The Red Sox are world champions, and they did it in impressive fashion.