A funny thing happened after the Red Sox traded Manny Ramirez: they started to win. Since Jason Bay came over on August 1st, the Sox have gone 20-9. Offense has been the key factor here: our pitching has allowed 124 runs (for a 4.18 ERA), but has received 191 runs in support. That's an average of 6.59 runs per game.
The Sox run of success is not a result of adding Bay or subtracting Manny, but of an overall offensive rejuvenation. The entire team is batting .305 / .390 / .481 over 1209 plate appearances, with 114 extra base hits (35 HR). That's wicked good. Some of the guys we love to hate deserve serious props.
Coco Crisp. Jason Varitek. Jacoby Ellsbury. Their names alone will cause many Sox fans to shudder in terror, as the images of unforgivable strike outs, anti-clutch double plays, and botched Hit and Run plays dance through their minds. But look at their numbers over the past 29 games:
Crisp: .324 / .377 / .382, 78 PA, 1 HR
Varitek: .272 / .372 / .457, 94 PA, 4 HR
Ells: .282 / .339 / .388, 112 PA, 2 HR, 9 SB to 1 CS
Some of those numbers might not look too impressive, but you need to consider context. In June and July, Ellsbury was barely getting on at all; he put up on-base percentages of .265 and .277, respectively, in those months. Coco had a .167 / .300 / .238 line in July. Varitek was basically 0 for June (.380 OPS!), and only marginally better in July (.293 OBP). So to get improved production out of these guys is a real step forward.
To this hitting renaissance we can add the solid production from Jason Bay, an MVP-worthy August from Dustin Pedroia (1.060 OPS!!?), Mark Kotsay's awesomeness (5 doubles in 20 AB), and Papi's return to form (1.064 OPS over the last 23 games). Unsurprisingly, for the last couple weeks, the Red Sox offense has looked a lot like this:
Red and unstoppable, like Boston's hitting. via media.ebaumsworld.com
To be sure, the Sox have been aided by the opposing pitching staffs. In particular the Orioles, Royals, and Rangers have padded our stats. But good teams need to beat up on bad pitchers, as even a bad major league pitcher can sometimes shut us down.
All this is to say, my fellow Sox fans, the state of our momentum is strong. It is running free and unimpeded, not held back by teen pregnancy, nor held in a VC prison, nor waiting in an overcrowded FEMA center for the go-ahead to return home. And much of the credit for this renewed momentum is due to the trio of Ellsbury, Crisp and Varitek.
Be sure to leave your thoughts (and vehement disagreements) in the comments below. Also, I'll post a game thread shortly, if Randy or Allen haven't already scheduled one.
Bonus: THT's Josh Kalk has an interesting piece on Josh Beckett's year, and his mechanics. Kalk believes that injury played a role in Beckett's poor performances.
Extra bonus tangent: JuggerNotPC.