A movie reboot typically takes characters people are familiar with and re-tells their story. An example is eight years after “Batman and Robin” premiered (and bombed), Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins” rebooted Bruce Wayne’s journey as the Caped Crusader (spoiler alert).
It has also been eight years since the 2013 Boston Red Sox were one of the more unlikely World Series Champions in recent memory.
While not the most talented team ever assembled, the 2013 Sox included a cast of characters that are hard to forget. However, it seems like Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom thinks they are not that difficult to duplicate.
Like in 2013, Bloom’s job has been to construct a team that will try to rebound from a truly embarrassing finish in the previous season. The 2012 team had come in last in the division with a .426 winning percentage and had just traded one of their best players to the Dodgers. The 2020 team came in last in the division with a .400 winning percentage and traded one of the best players in team history to the Dodgers.
Neither of the constructions of the 2013 nor the 2021 team caused Boston fans to pre-order Championship hats or t-shirts. But when you examine each roster closely it’s almost like looking into a mirror, or at least one of those fun house mirrors that makes you look all stretchy and weird.
Did Chaim Bloom look at the 2013 team and think, “Yeah, I’ll just reboot this”? The evidence for this being the case is convincing when you go through the roles on each roster.
The Manager Returning to the Fold
2013 – John Farrell
2021 – Alex Cora
Farrell was the Red Sox pitching coach from 2007-2010 before he left to become the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. When the Sox fired Bobby Valentine after the 2012 season, the Sox traded for Farrell to bring him back to the team, this time as the manager.
Alex Cora was the Sox manager in 2018 and 2019 until he resigned from the position. But then Bloom brought him back!
The Non-Catcher of the Future
2013 – Jarrod Saltalamacchia
2021 – Christian Vazquez
Salty joined the Sox in a trade during the 2010 season and was their everyday catcher for the next three seasons. His 2013 season was by far his best, but his impending free agency and the unlikelihood he’d remain in Boston followed him during the season.
Vazquez was in trade rumors last season and this winter, and only has a $7 million team option for the 2022 season remaining on his contract. He’s a solid player, but for where the Red Sox are going it’s unlikely the soon to be 31-year-old Vazquez is the long-term answer.
The Cornerstone Infielder
2013 – Dustin Pedroia
2021 – Xander Bogaerts
By 2013, Pedroia had won Rookie of the Year, an MVP and been named an All-Star three times. He also had a World Series ring from the 2007 season. He and David Ortiz were the cornerstones of the team.
Xander Bogaerts has two WS rings and has been named to two All-Star teams. He is one of the few spots on this roster that is filled with sure-fire talent and guaranteed production.
The #1 Prospect
2013 – Xander Bogaerts
2021 – Jeter Downs
Before the 2013 season, Bogaerts was ranked as the #8 prospect in the league by Baseball America. He came up for 18 games during the season, then played in 12 postseason games. In Game 6 of the ALCS, he was down 1-2 to Max Scherzer (the Cy Young winner in 2013) twice. The first time he doubled on a 3-2 pitch and later scored on a Jacoby Ellsbury single. The second time he worked a walk and scored on a Shane Victorino Grand Slam.
Downs is ranked the #71 prospect in the league this season by Baseball America, but is still the Sox #1 prospect. Without a clear cut everyday second baseman on the roster, a Downs promotion could be a key X Factor for this team’s second half.
The Homegrown Rebound
2013 – Jacoby Ellsbury
2021 – Rafael Devers
Ellsbury was drafted in the first round by the Red Sox in 2005. Six years later he had his best season, leading the league in total bases with 364, posting a 8.3 WAR and coming in 2nd for the MVP. Then in 2012 he was basically an average player, with a .8 WAR. The 2013 season represented his bounce-back as he had a 5.8 WAR and lead the league with 52 stolen bases.
Devers was signed as an amateur free agent in 2013. Six years later he had his best season (so far), leading the league in total bases with 359, posting a 4.9 WAR and coming in 12th for the MVP. During last year’s shortened season Devers struggled and only posted a .6 WAR. Can he rebound like Ellsbury did?
The Outfield Platoon
2013 – Daniel Nava & Jonny Gomes
2021 – Hunter Renfroe & Franchy Cordero
During the 2013 season Nava had a .894 OPS vs. right-handed pitchers with 10 home runs in 339 at-bats, while Gomes had a .795 OPS vs. left-handed pitchers with 8 home runs in 161 at-bats.
In their careers, Cordero has a .786 OPS vs. right-handed pitchers with 9 home runs in 218 at-bats, while Renfroe has a .912 OPS vs. left-handed pitchers with 36 home runs in 431 at-bats.
The Heavy-hitting DH
2013 – David Ortiz
2021 – J.D. Martinez
Papi put up a typical Papi stat line in 2013. 30 homeruns, 100+ RBIs, .959 OPS, at least one triple.
Martinez was great in his first two seasons in Boston before a disappointing performance last year. Martinez is said to be a creature of habit though, so it should be noted the following things happened to his team before a pitch was even thrown:
- The manager beloved by the players resigned amid a cheating scandal
- The best player was traded
- The ace pitcher was shut down for Tommy John surgery
The Struggling Corner Infielder
2013 – Will Middlebrooks
2021 – Michael Chavis
Middlebrooks debuted for the Sox in 2012 and hit 15 home runs with a .835 OPS. In the following season he hit 17 home runs (in nearly 100 more at-bats) and saw his OPS fall to .696. After struggling in the ALDS vs. Tampa Bay he then became a bench player for the rest of the playoff run.
Chavis slugged 18 home runs during his rookie year in 2019 with a .766 OPS. However, like Middlebrooks his OPS saw a steep decline, going to .636 last year. As it currently stands it doesn’t look like Chavis will be a starter this season.
The Bounce Back Lefty
2013 – Jon Lester
2021 – Eduardo Rodriguez
From 2008 through 2011, Lester was a top of the rotation starter for the Sox and averaged 16+ wins. He had an off-year in 2012, going 9-14 with an ERA near 5.00. The bounce back came in 2013 when he went 15-8 with a sub-4.00 ERA and was the ace of the championship team.
Rodriguez had his best year as a starter in 2019, going 19-6 and leading the league in starts. Unfortunately his entire 2020 season was lost due to complications from contracting COVID-19. If Rodriguez’ Spring Training performance so far is any indication, he seems ready to return to his upward trajectory.
The High-Priced Starter Looking for Acceptance
2013 – John Lackey
2021 – Nathan Eovaldi
Lackey signed a five-year $82.5 million contract in December 2009. He was solid in 2010, but then had an ERA near 7.00 in 2011 and missed 2012 after having Tommy John surgery. The fans had pretty much given up on Lackey, but he delivered a better than average 2013 season with an ERA+ of 117. He went on to pitch 6+ innings of shutout baseball in Game 3 of the ALCS, and won the deciding game in the World Series.
Eovaldi will never buy another drink in Boston after his six-inning relief performance in Game 3 of the 2018 World Series. The 4-year $68 million contract he signed after that season has yet to fully pay off though. His 2019 ERA was near 6.00 and while he was much better last year in the shortened season, a solid 2021 would go a long way to help Eovaldi back into the good graces of Sox fans.
The Innings Eater
2013 – Ryan Dempster
2021 – Martin Perez
Dempster threw 170+ innings in 2012 and then did the same for the Red Sox in 2013.
Perez threw 160+ innings in 2019 and projected to do the same last year in a regular length season.
These aren’t all sexy.
The Starter with Potential
2013 – Felix Doubront
2021 – Nick Pivetta
Doubront won 11 games and struck out over a batter an inning in 2012. He won another 11 games for the Sox in 2013 and was a valuable member of the rotation.
In 2018, Pivetta had 188 strikeouts in 164 innings. He hasn’t take the next step forward like the Phillies (his former team) hoped, but maybe the move to Boston will unlock something here.
The Wildcard Starter
2013 – Clay Buchholz
2021 – Chris Sale
Buchholz went 9-0 from April 3rd to June 8th in 2013. He then went down with an injury and didn’t return until September 10th.
Sale had Tommy John surgery in 2020 and won’t return until deep into the season. But if he can give the team two months close to how Buchholz started 2013 then the Sox faithful should be pretty happy.
The Relief Reclamation
2013 – Andrew Bailey
2021 – Adam Ottavino
Bailey was a top closer in the AL from 2009-2011 for the Oakland A’s. Then he was traded to the Sox in 2012 and the wheels fell off as he was injured before the season started. He returned in August, but only pitched 15+ innings for the season. The hope was his 2013 would see a return to dominance. It did not.
Ottavino was one of the top middle relievers in baseball in 2018 and 2019, with an ERA+ of 195 and 237. The shortened season didn’t do Ottavino any favors though as an appearance against Toronto in September saw him give up six earned runs while not recording an out. Ottavino ended the year with an ERA near 6.00, but it would have been under 3.00 if not for that Blue Jays game. Maybe he’ll have better luck returning to form for the Sox than Bailey.
The Direct Connection
2013 – Koji Uehara
2021 – Hirokazu Sawamura
Uehara signed a 2-year deal with the Red Sox before the 2013 season, and was not brought in to be the closer. Then the season happened and he became one of the most dominant closers in franchise history.
Sawamura signed a 2-year deal with the Red Sox this offseason (largely due to Uehara’s history with the team), and will not be the closer this season. Ok, we’ll see.
Will the 2021 Red Sox roster reprise the same roles as their 2013 predecessors? It should be fun to watch, because no matter what happens this season it shouldn’t be worse than last year for Red Sox fans.
I mean it can’t be, right?
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