LOS ANGELES — Falling into the trap of thinking the Red Sox were all star power and overly-high-priced talent could happen pretty easily to those who don’t pay attention to the ballclub on a daily basis. After all, just look at who they’ve got.
J.D. Martinez just won an award for being the best hitter in the American League. He’s a top level slugger in baseball on a nine-figure deal that is actually not paying him enough for what he provides.
Mookie Betts might well win the AL MVP this year.
Chris Sale will be toward the top of the AL Cy Young ballot, as he is most years.
David Price has a $200M-plus contract. He’s been the AL Cy Young runner up twice.
Craig Kimbrel is arguably the best closer of his generation — second after Kenley Jansen, if not first, but there’s little reason to carry this debate now — and if he gets a lot more longevity, he could end up in the Hall of Fame.
The next tier down features over-shadowed types that could be stars on other teams like Rick Porcello (who has won a Cy Young), Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts.
Yes, that’s a lot of dollar signs, hardware and star power.
You don’t win 108 games and get to within one win of a World Series with a collection of stars, though. You win with a team. The Red Sox aren’t here without the names listed above. They aren’t even close. How they filled around all this star power is what has them where they are, though, and the also-rans shined in the Game 4 victory over the Dodgers that put them within one win of the World Series championship.
In fact, let’s give another shout-out to Nathan Eovaldi for his unbelievable performance in extra innings in Game 3. Who knows how Game 4 turns out without that. He starts this list. He began the season on the disabled list for the Rays. He’s been a major part of getting a 3-1 lead in the World Series in relief, despite being a starting pitcher.
Steve Pearce started the season with the Blue Jays. He was acquired in late June. He hits third now against lefties. In Game 4, he was probably The hero. He hit a game-tying home run off Jansen in the eighth inning and then put the game out of reach with a bases-clearing double in the ninth. He has a .419 on-base percentage and .500 slugging in the playoffs.
Mitch Moreland is on a two-year, $13 million deal and he’s a platoon player. He absolutely destroyed a Ryan Madson pitch for a three-run shot that made this thing a game again in the sixth.
Brock Holt is a part-time Swiss Army Knife who got 367 regular-season plate appearances. He drew a walk and scored in the seventh before starting the big ninth-inning rally with a double down the left-field line. He scored the go-ahead run.
Rafael Devers is only 22 years old and making the league minimum. He delivered the go-ahead single with one out in the ninth inning as a pinch hitter. He drove home Holt.
Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez last started a game on Sept. 20. He even pitched in relief in Game 3. Yet he took the ball in Game 4 and worked five scoreless innings before his manager left him in too long. He still deserves a lot of credit for holding the Dodgers at bay the first five innings.
Joe Kelly threw two scoreless innings in relief. Matt Barnes has a 1.04 ERA this postseason. Pick your poison. You can find a Red Sox player that has contributed to this run up and down the roster.
Yes, there’s a huge payroll and a lot of stars in that locker room. There are also role players who can beat you. It’s an incredibly well-rounded team and that was in full display throughout the epic comeback in Game 4.
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