No.18: 2001 Red Sox (82-79)
Hopes were high for the 2001 Red Sox after giving the Yankees a run for their money in 2000 and signing slugger Manny Ramirez from Cleveland Indians.
The first sign, however, that this team wasn’t going to live up to expectations was when Nomar Garciaparra hurt his wrist in spring training, and he ended up playing just 23 games. Even though Ramirez hit 41 home runs and posted an outstanding 162 OPS+, the loss of Garciaparra and up-and-coming catcher Jason Varitek (51 games), along with Carl Everett’s decline (98 OPS+), doomed the offense.
The injury bug also bit the team’s top pitcher, as Pedro Martinez started just 18 games before tearing his rotator cuff. So even while Frank Castillo (4.21 ERA), David Cone (4.31 ERA), Hideo Nomo (4.50 ERA, 220 strikeouts), and Tim Wakefield (3.90 ERA) had solid seasons, the loss of Martinez left their rotation short-handed.
The Red Sox were additionally hampered by a poor season from Derek Lowe, who blew six saves in just 30 opportunities.
The Red Sox actually went 51-36 in the first half before a 31-46 second half cost Jimmy Williams his job and left them 13.5 games of the Yankees.