Are the 2018 Red Sox the best team in franchise history?
No team remaining in the 2018 postseason has won more World Series titles than the Red Sox. That's saying something when you also consider that at one point, their loyal fans had to wait a painful 86 years between championships.
The Red Sox have done a better job at helping the fanbase avoid similar heartache by winning three World Series titles in the past 15 seasons. For the first time in franchise history, they've also won three AL East Division titles in a row, and as they prepare to take on the Astros in the ALCS on Saturday, the juggernaut 2018 bunch has a case to be their greatest club ever. How do they stack up?
2018: The Record Holders (108-54; ???)
It had been 72 years since the Red Sox last topped 100 wins, but the 2018 club blew right past the 1946 AL pennant winners to set a new franchise-best with 108 victories. That last 100-win club featured a Triple Crown performance by Ted Williams, and newcomer J.D. Martinez nearly matched the Splendid Splinter in his first season in Beantown by hitting .330/.402/.629 with 43 dingers and a league-leading 130 RBIs.
The only AL player to beat Martinez in batting average was none other than his superb teammate, Mookie Betts, who led Major League Baseball with a .346 mark and a ridiculous 10.9 WAR. Add in excellent seasons from Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts as well as a Cy Young-caliber campaign from unhittable ace Chris Sale, and it's not difficult to figure out how the Red Sox outlasted their archrival Yankees (another 100-win club) in both the regular season and the Division Series.
2007: The Game's Unquestioned Best (96-66, won World Series)
Sure, the "Boston Strong" championship club of 2013 won one more game than the 2007 iteration, but if you ask Red Sox fans, the '07 team was more dominant. They ended the Yankees' 9-year run atop the AL East by tying the Indians for the best record in the game.
There were the typically great seasons from the likes of David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Kevin Youkilis, Curt Schilling and new ace Josh Beckett, but they found talent from surprising sources, too. Veteran Mike Lowell had been a throw-in in the deal with the Marlins for Beckett -- Lowell proceeded to pepper the Green Monster with doubles and became the World Series MVP. Small second baseman Dustin Pedroia won the Opening Day job and rewarded manager Terry Francona with an .823 OPS en route to AL Rookie of the Year honors.
It didn't seem like anyone could stop them ... until the Indians took a 3-1 lead in the ALCS. Behind Beckett, the Red Sox roared to life:
Seven wins in a row later against Cleveland and Colorado, and the Red Sox were champions once again.
2004: Curse Breakers (98-64, won World Series)
Once upon a time, there was a small part of Red Sox lore known as "The Curse of the Bambino." No one really talked about it, and it flew under the radar for most Boston fans. It's generally forgotten.
All kidding aside, the difficulty of the task at hand for Francona's 2004 Red Sox cannot be overstated. Yeah, they won 98 games, but thanks to the Yankees, that was only good enough for a Wild Card berth. Yeah, there were standout performances from Ortiz, Ramirez, Schilling and Pedro Martinez (just to name a few), but they still found themselves trailing the ALCS, three games to none. Their opponents were -- of course -- those very same Yankees who broke their hearts in Game 7 of the previous ALCS. New York was ready to sweep away Boston's magical season with a 4-3 ninth-inning lead in Game 4 and nonpareil closer Mariano Rivera on the mound.
Simply put, the unthinkable happened:
Not even a dominant 105-win team like the Cardinals could stop Boston at that point. The Red Sox never trailed once in any game during their four-game sweep. The Curse was over.
1912: Fenway's First Heroes (105-47, won World Series)
Though there was a long wait before 2004, in the early years of the Fall Classic, the Red Sox were the greatest team. They won five of the first fifteen World Series, and no club was better than the 1912 squad.
The 1912 season would have been important for the Red Sox anyway because that was the year that Fenway Park opened. They beat New York, 5-3, on Opening Day and never looked back. Hall of Famer center fielder Tris Speaker won the AL MVP with an absurd .383/.464/.567 batting line. Of his 222 hits, a league-best 53 were doubles.
Duffy Lewis, Larry Gardner and player-manager Jake Stahl all turned in fine seasons as well, but the real star of the show was a 22-year-old kid from Kansas named Smoky Joe Wood. The flamethrower dominated and led the AL with 34 wins, 35 complete games and 10 shutouts with a minuscule 1.91 ERA.
Wood went 3-1 and Speaker had an .849 OPS in the Fred Snodgrass-aided World Series victory over the Giants. The 1912 team's 105 wins were surpassed by the 2018 Red Sox, but that .691 winning percentage remains the best in team history -- the 2018 edition would have needed 112 wins to pass them there.
That's the tale of the tape. So which was the best Red Sox team in history? You decide: