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Any time a team finishes the regular season with an eight-game lead over the second place team in their division, the word “dominant” gets entered into play. When that second place team finished with 100 wins and still came up eight games short, the phrase “utterly dominant” becomes closer to the truth.
This is the case for the 2018 Boston Red Sox, a team that finished with a sterling 108-54 record in a division that pits them against two other teams that also topped 90 wins (and the Orioles). The fact that no other division had three teams win at least 90 games speaks volumes to the Red Sox ability to play meaningful baseball from the start of the season to its conclusion. Had the Tampa Bay Rays – the team that finished a full 18 games behind the Sox – played in the NL East, they’d have tied for first place.
If you’re looking for more evidence that the Sox are not only the best version of themselves of all time – look here: they finished first overall in runs scored, hits, doubles, batting average, on-base percentage and (therefore) OPS. They finished first in the ballpark-adjusted OPS+, had the highest starting pitcher Wins Above Average of any team and finished in the top six teams in ERA+, strikeouts, and FIP. Their Elo rating (FiveThirtyEight’s means of assigning a single number to measure team strength based on hundreds of thousands of simulations run each season) tops the league, just edging out the World Series favorite Houston Astros.
But the Astros aren’t in the World Series – the Red Sox are. They not only finished this season with the best record in baseball and the highest win total in franchise history, but they’re also one of only two teams to finish each of the last three seasons with at least 93 wins (the other is the Cubs). And not only is the Sox reign of terror on the AL East not limited to just this year – it’s only getting started.
With an average age of 28.8, the team is a far cry from the “veteran leadership first” approach that former General Manager Theo Epstein took. And while Epstein’s time as Boston’s GM saw them secure their first World Series victory in quite some time, the new look Red Sox feature players like Mookie Betts – the de facto best player in baseball – who is an astonishing 26 years old and won’t be a free agent until 2021. Slugger JD Martinez and incredible athlete Andrew Benintendi are under control until 2023, Xander Bogaertz until 2020, Chris Sale (who is still on the right side of 30) until the same year.
The Red Sox are young (enough) and plenty dominant, and they aren’t looking to stop any time soon.