The Red Sox are in somewhat of a gray area entering the 2021 season
A famous sports quote that echoes, “we are who we thought they were!” was once exclaimed by Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green, describing their opponent that week, the Chicago Bears, to be quite literally, exactly who they thought they were. Interpretation of that infamous quote is up to your discretion, but one question facing the Boston Red Sox this season is, does anyone really know who or what this team will be like? Will anyone come away from a game or a series and say “they are who we thought they were” about these Red Sox?
As it stands right now with Opening Day just three days away, for the first time in a long time, we don’t have a clue what this team will or won’t be able to accomplish.
Are they an offensive team that was number two in MLB in hits and top 15 in runs as they were last year? That’s right, bet you forgot about that. For as bad as the Red Sox were in 2020, the offense was always pertinent in any success they did have. Will we see that kind of production again under the guidance of Alex Cora?
Are they a team that wins games in between the lines with their defense and ‘SC Top 10’ nominees? If that’s going to be the case, they’ll need to be much more refined than they were last year when they committed the third-most errors across the league ahead of only the Pirates and Yankees.
Will they be a team that wins games on the base paths with blaring speed? Finishing in the top third of the league in stolen bases, Boston has never really been a team known for swiping bags since the days of Coco Crisp and Jacoby Ellsbury, but they can be aggressive when necessary, and you probably should expect it with Cora calling the shots.
However, no matter what this team’s identity is, a strong start is a must to keep pace in the division. You know as well as I do that New York will be strong once again, Toronto has a chance to make some noise thanks to the additions of Hyun-Jin Ryu and George Springer, and despite dumping some star power out of Tampa, the Rays could be in the mix as well.
The Red Sox begin their season at Fenway Park for the second consecutive year, where they’ll host two divisional foes in the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays before heading out on the road.
In addition to seeing Baltimore once more after opening week, Boston will also match up with the Twins, White Sox, Blue Jays, Mariners, and Mets before ending the month with a series in Texas at the new Globe Life Field. Out of eight opponents that Boston will face in April, just two of them were playoff clubs in 2020.
So the fact remains, we indeed don’t truly know how the 2021 version of the Red Sox will perform considering Cora will need to work in a bunch of new faces across the diamond in addition to on the hill.
But one last question desires an answer more than any other; is this a playoff team?
I’ll answer with this: they could be. Perhaps many fans are in the same boat as I am, believing there could be a bit of a surprise factor built into this season but not wanting to fully commit to a guaranteed trip to October. I get it.
If Spring Training has shown us anything this year though, it’s that there’s plenty of room for optimism. The emergence of Bobby Dalbec has fans buzzing, as well as the strong performances from arms like Eduardo Rodriguez, who came off a frustrating year in 2020 filled with injury recovery and a battle with COVID-19. Moreover, youngsters like Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock have been catching the eye of not only the fans but the organization as well, and are making strides towards landing a spot on the opening day roster.
So, would I go out on a limb and say the Red Sox are destined for the postseason, no I wouldn’t. Would I tell you they certainly have a chance to make some noise and turn some heads? Absolutely.
We won’t know all the answers to these questions on April 1, but it’s almost a guarantee that this team, good or bad, will give you a reason to watch on a nightly basis.