Red Sox fell short of expectations in disappointing 2019 season

BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 20: Xander Bogaerts #2 and Rafael Devers #11 of the Boston Red Sox celebrate after scoring during the fourth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 20, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 20: Xander Bogaerts #2 and Rafael Devers #11 of the Boston Red Sox celebrate after scoring during the fourth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 20, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /

As the Boston Red Sox season comes to a close, it’s time to reflect on what has happened and what is to come in the future of the team.

“Red Sox win the World Series! Five to one the final tonight! And the best team in baseball wins it all in two thousand eighteen!”

That was the final out call of the 2018 World Series narrated by Joe Buck. And as Chris Sale sent Manny Machado down to his knees on that 1-2 slider with Buck on the call, I felt numb with excitement and happiness.

When your favorite team wins the World Series, it’s hard to describe what that feeling is like, especially when you live and die by that team every day of your life. The 2018 Boston Red Sox were special, a team for the ages, and one that will never be forgotten; but although it may have felt like a fairy tale in the moment, it certainly wasn’t.

The 2018 Red Sox, unfortunately, did not live happily ever after, because no World Series team ever does. Championship teams are always broken, pulled, and ripped apart eventually, whether it happens the very next season or 5-10 years after the fact. It always happens.

The Red Sox went into the 2019 season with almost exactly the same team as 2018, minus Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel. So this clearly meant they were going back-to-back for the first time in franchise history, right? Sadly, baseball doesn’t work that way.

The 2019 Red Sox were doomed from the start, going 3-8 on their 11-game west coast road trip to open the season. It was so bad that it got to the point where some questioned whether the team would get booed or not during the home opener introductions at Fenway. Pretty awkward if you ask me.

The Red Sox finally reached the .500 mark in May. However, they weren’t able to do much after that to get on a roll. The division race was all but over by the time July rolled around, and most of us just fell back on the “well, at least we’ll be in the Wild Card game” talk. It’s funny to say that now, because of where the team ended up in the standings at seasons end. However, there was indeed a time where that Wild Card spot was a serious possibility.

That time was July 27, when the Red Sox had just finished beating up on the Yankees for the third straight game at Fenway, going for the four-game sweep on Sunday Night Baseball. Sale would get the start against Domingo German of the Yankees, and off they’d go. Sale would get roughed up for six runs, giving up two homers and taking the loss. And so it would begin, the downfall of the 2019 Red Sox season.

Boston would go on to get swept at home by the Rays, falling to an abysmal 1-8 record against Tampa at Fenway in 2019. They’d follow that by getting swept in the Bronx, losing eight in a row, and dropping six games back in the Wild Card race.

The Red Sox would fight to stay alive for the next month and a half, but it was one of those things where even though they theoretically had a shot at October baseball, you didn’t really feel like it was going to happen at all. The final straw was September 3 when Rafael Devers was gunned down at the plate to not only end the game but to lose a much-needed series win against Minnesota at home.

It would only get worse from that point on, and finally, on September 20, the Red Sox were eliminated from postseason contention.

Everything that happened in a positive light this season was overshadowed by the negative, as the 2019 Red Sox would just not let you ever enjoy anything. As Mitch Moreland hit a game-tying two-run home run during the ninth inning in Tampa, the Indians were just getting done with winning their game, meaning the Red Sox were officially out of postseason contention. With this bad news just being revealed, the least this team could do would be to end up winning the game they had just tied, right? Nope. The Rays would walk it off in the bottom of the ninth. If that’s not a punch right in the gut, I don’t know what is.

The 2019 Red Sox are not going to be a team we look back fondly on, as it was full of negatives. Missing the playoffs, Dustin Pedroia pretty much announcing his retirement, the starting rotation stinking it up when it was supposed to be one of the strongest rotations in baseball, Andrew Benintendi‘s down year, Steve Pearce ceasing to exist, all of the blown leads in the late innings, Dave Dombrowski being fired, and Mookie Betts being rumored to be traded this offseason, just to name a few.

However, amidst all of the negatives, I’d like to think of myself as a glass half full kind of guy. Devers took a huge leap forward in showing what he can do at the plate, hitting .307 with a .916 OPS along with getting over 200 hits and improving his defense drastically. Coming off of a career year in 2018, Xander Bogaerts was even better in 2019, hitting .309 with a .939 OPS. Christian Vazquez also improved a hell of a lot this year, hitting with an OPS around .800 and knocking 23 out of the yard, which are extremely solid numbers for a catcher. Michael Chavis is an up and coming star. Eduardo Rodriguez is also someone who took a huge step forward, proving he can be an ace type pitcher in the rotation.

Betts, along with J.D. Martinez, didn’t quite have the seasons they had in 2018, but still had incredibly productive years, as did most of the lineup as a whole.

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Looking back on this season, it certainly was an extreme let down compared to 2018. It was set up that way from the start, as we all knew some regression was coming after 108 wins and a World Series title. However, being in third place along with sitting 19 games back of the first-place Yankees is definitely not something to smile about.

This offseason will definitely be one to keep a close eye on. J.D. might be gone, same with Rick Porcello, Brock Holt, Moreland, and maybe even Betts.

With Dave Dombrowski fired less than a year after winning the World Series, it’s clear that whoever runs the ship from this point on will have a whole lot on his plate to deal with. This winter could go many different ways, and we’re about to find out what direction this organization wants to take.

But as of right now, focus on the positives. Bogaerts and Devers are locked up for years to come, Chavis, Marco Hernandez, along with some of the guys in the minors are the future of this team. The Red Sox should still be contenders come 2020 and beyond.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the happily ever after ending that came last year, but that’s just baseball. And when you’re a diehard baseball fan like me, you’re going to have to deal with years like this.

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I will always remember the very end of this overall incredibly weird season. As Betts would go from first to home on a single to right field, sliding in at home just in time to give the Red Sox the walk-off win to end the season, all I could think was “wow, what an odd year.” We’ll Get em in 2020.