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42 Years of Red Sox Baseball: Team Batting WAR

I was born 42 years ago this summer and although I didn't really start following the Red Sox until about 1983, I'd like to think I was born a Red Sox Fan thus my Red Sox "existence" started in July of 1972. The number 42 is special to me in many ways: It's double 21 (the age I met the woman who was to become my wife), Jackie Robinson wore it, and of course, it's the answer to that proverbial question "What is the meaning of life?" (at least according to Douglas Adams).

This leads into my first piece on Red Sox History over the past 42 years where we will take a look at Team Batting WAR (B-Ref WAR). Here is the Chart with the raw data of Team Batting WAR by Year.

Top 5 Season by Team Batting WAR

  1. 2013 (39.9): 2013 was a unique season by many accounts. The Sox eschewed the big-time FA contracts instead opting to sign a slew veterans to short term deals to fill gaps while waiting on younger players to develop. This "bridge year" saw just about everything fall right for the Sox on the way to a most improbable World Series win and by far the highest WAR total of the past 42 years.
  2. 2011 (36.7): If 2013 was odd in its outcome nothing can compare to 2011 in terms of overall oddity. The Sox started out of the gate going 2-10 then proceeded to go on a major run that ran their record to 62-37 on July 24th to lead the East by 3 games. At minimum the playoffs looked assured if not an AL East title, yet the Sox then took a nose dive in a September choke-fest for the ages.
  3. 2003 (35.2): The 2003 Red Sox squad is considered by many to be one of the best Sox teams to not win the World Series. They got close, of course, losing the ALCS in 7 in dramatic fashion to the Yankees (thanks in large part to Grady Little). The starting 9 all played at least 128 games or more and every regular hit double-digit homers including 6 with 25 or more. All of that offense helped to offset a very mediocre pitching staff.
  4. 2002 (33.3): Another group here that misses the playoffs despite a high WAR total. This group won 93 games which was not enough to make it into the post-season thanks to 2 teams with 103 wins (NY, OAK) and another with 99 wins (ANH). This was hard-luck squad with a Pythag record of 100-62. Both Pedro and Derek Lowe notched 20 win seasons.
  5. 2010 (32.6): How this team only won 89 games is beyond my comprehension but they did. V-Mart & Beltre had very good seasons, but it was injuries and the lack of a supporting cast that did this team in)

Bottom 5 Seasons by Team Batting WAR

  1. 1992 (4.4): No that is not a typo there! For many of the younger generation who have experienced what it is like to be a Sox fan in the 2000s the late 80s/early 90s era is lost upon you and for that you are blessed. This squad managed to put up a cumulative offensive/defensive WAR that is the equivalent to one very good player. What is impressive is they managed to win 73 games as a mostly replacement level squad. Tom Brunansky led the team with 15 homers......
  2. 1983 (14.8): I like to remember this as Wade Boggs rookie year. Boggs was awesome (7.6) as was Rice (5.6) but the rest.....not so much. Boggs + Rice 13.4 WAR, the rest 1.4 WAR. Hard to win with two players...even two very good ones.
  3. 2001 (15.7): Welcome to the mediocrity of the early 2000 Sox. Heck they even had a 82-79 record....only one win/loss from the master record of the middle. Manny did his part (5.2) but Nomar was hurt and yeah......
  4. 2000 (15.7): 85 wins yes, but such a bland team. Carl Everett was the top power source with 34 bombs and Nomar of course was doing his thing but O'Leary/Daubach/Offerman/Frye....you get the picture.
  5. 1990 (16.6): Arguably the weakest hitting team to make the playoffs. The Sox ran into the A's and poof that was over quickly. Ellis Burks led the team with 21 HR/89 RBI and OPS 0.835. This was one of the few Pitching/Defense teams that we've seen from the Sox

Making the Least with the Most

1997 (31.1 WAR, 78 Wins): Vaughn/Valentin/Nomar and company posted a solid 31.1 WAR yet the team managed only 78 wins.....how? Oh you have pitch as well? The 97 staff ran up a total of 7.0 WAR. Aaron Sele/Steve Avery and the ghost of Bret Saberhagen.

Making the Most with the Least

1982 (17.4 WAR, 89 Wins): Dewey, Rice a 42 year old Yaz and not much else on the offensive side. The pitching doesn't exactly inspire confidence either with Eckersley/Tudor at the top of the rotation but a solid and oft-used bullpen (3 relievers with over 100 IP) must have been the difference? no-one will ever know how this mess won 89 games.

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