The 2023 Boston Red Sox season certainly isn't going to be remembered fondly by fans anytime soon. This iteration of the team constantly went through stretches of highs and lows throughout the year, any improvement immediately getting followed up by a fallow period where it felt like the team didn't deserve to stay in the Major Leagues. The Red Sox were the physical manifestation of the "We're so back/It's so over" meme for all of 2023, and we've finally been put out of our misery of watching this stress-inducing team.
However, just because the end product didn't result in nabbing one of the Wild Card spots like many of us hoped for throughout the summer, that doesn't mean there weren't any positives that the team can take with them into the offseason. While there's plenty to be disappointed about in this team (looking at you, Alex Verdugo ... and Tanner Houck ... and post-injury Trevor Story ... and Corey Kluber ... where was I?), there's also plenty to be pleasantly surprised in with this team, so let's briefly look at the highlights of this lowlight of a season.
Most surprising Red Sox player of 2023 -- No. 1: Justin Turner
It really feels like Justin Turner big time turned back the clock this season. WhenJustin Turner joined the Red Sox this year, I tried to temper my expectations as much as I possibly could. Sure, Turner had been very good in Los Angeles the past few years, but he had turned 38, and I was worried that Father Time was finally going to catch up with him and he'd end up a failed replacement for J.D. Martinez in the lineup.
I'm very happy to admit that I was wrong on this thought process. Turner proved to be a constant presence in the Red Sox lineup throughout the entire season, being able to fill in at both infield corners (and some second base, a position he last played in 2019), while consistently being one of the best bats on the Red Sox this season. Fun fact: Justin Turner set a new career-high with 95 runs batted in this season.
At 38 years old!
I had expected him to be an okay bat, maybe he could end up around 75 RBI, but to be closing in on 100 shows 1) just how wrong I was, and 2) just how good of a season Justin Turner had. While he'll most likely decline his player option and test his market value this offseason, I think Red Sox fans should remember nothing but positives from Turner's stint with the team, and the positive veteran presence he was able to bring to the locker room while absolutely raking.