For many reasons, or for whatever reason, the Boston Red Sox hit poorly as a collective unit in 2017, particularly for power.
— BP Boston (@BProBoston) February 2, 2018
A year later, they raked. A year later, the Red Sox raised their True Average by 25 points, they led all of baseball in OPS and they finished fourth in team Isolated Power—hitting 40 more home runs than they did in 2017. Boston’s biggest weakness had become a source of strength.
Not coincidentally, they won 108 games in the regular season and 11 more in the postseason. After beating the Dodgers 5-1 in Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday night, they became champions for the fourth time since 2004 and ninth time in franchise history. All of Boston’s runs in the clincher came via the long ball, with three dingers coming at the expense of Clayton Kershaw. This isn’t a criticism of Kershaw, but instead an appreciation of Boston’s potent power-hitting ability.
It took Steve Pearce all of one pitch to get the Red Sox on the board in the first inning.
Let us tell you about Steve Pearce.
His last 3 AB?
David Freese tried his best to rekindle the magic he tends to deliver in October while simultaneously attempting to keep up with Boston’s power surge. His solo shot brought the Dodgers to within 2-1 and the fireworks were going off early.
Unfortunately for the Dodgers, it was all they would get as David Price delivered a fantastic performance on the mound, pitching into the eighth inning, with Freese’s homer the only blemish on his record. Meanwhile, Boston’s bats returned to prominence in the sixth, when Mookie Betts picked a lovely time to hit his first career postseason home run.
In the seventh, the Red Sox continued to send balls flying over the fence. J.D. Martinez didn’t cover himself in glory earlier when he lost a ball in the dusk and stadium lights, but he made up for it by hitting his third homer of October. He hit one in the ALDS, one in the ALCS and now you can watch him hit one in the World Series:
Boston’s power onslaught continued in the eighth. Pearce crushed another deep shot into the dark sky over Dodger Stadium. All Chris Taylor could do was watch as it flied into the bleachers. Pearce (presumptively at the time) earned himself a new Chevy as the World Series MVP while simultaneously giving the Red Sox a four-run lead. It probably felt like 14 to the Dodgers.
While the Red Sox were mashing, the Dodgers were scuffling. Freese’s homer and the triple he got thanks to Martinez were two of only three Dodgers hits. Price rose to the occasion, shaking off the postseason performance narrative that clung to his back. Joe Kelly kept the Dodgers at bay in his relief appearance and Chris Sale got the ball in the ninth. Sale threw the first and final pitch of the season for the Red Sox. Aside from clinching another title for Boston, the pitch itself was just nasty.
The Red Sox have again won the World Series and, in the process, their relatively feeble hitting from 2017 has become a distant memory. There won’t be any questions next season about where Boston will get its offense.
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