For Orioles fans, the only thing more painful than watching an October without their favorite team this season was probably seeing the Red Sox win the World Series.
And the fact that the Orioles won 11 games against Boston this year, most of any team, and won the season series against the Red Sox probably doesn't provide much solace.
The Red Sox showed they are the best team in baseball, completing the best turnaround in baseball history. No team has had a lower winning percentage the year before winning a World Series title. The Red Sox won just 69 games and had a .426 winning percentage in 2012 before winning 97 (.599) this season.
And David Ortiz became the first non-New York Yankees player to win three World Series titles with the same team since Orioles Hall of Famer Jim Palmer was a member of three title teams in 1966, 1970 and 1983.
I wasn’t the only one, but before the season began, I predicted the Red Sox to finish dead last in the American League East. I honestly thought Boston overpaid by signing Shane Victorino (three years, $39 million), Jonny Gomes (two years, $10 million) and Mike Napoli (one year, $5 million, plus incentives) in the offseason, additions I didn’t think made them that much better.
Well, I guess I was wrong. Each played large roles in Boston's success in the regular season and the postseason.
The Red Sox got a deal in signing former Orioles pitcher Koji Uehara for $4.25 millon (performance bonuses will bump that to $5 million, and he also qualified for a $4.25 million vesting option for 2014). The contributions of backup catcher David Ross -- who made four starts in the World Series, handled Boston’s staff well under pressure and had a huge run-scoring hit in Game 5 -- will likely go unnoticed. Boston gave Ross two years, $6.2 million to be a reserve last offseason.
The Orioles were interested in both Uehara and Ross last offseason, but were outbid by the Red Sox. Granted, Boston's Opening Day payroll was more than $62 million higher than the Orioles', even despite the late-2012 salary-purge trade of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett.
The Red Sox weren’t exactly raking during the World Series -- just four players hit over .200 and just one hit over .250. Red Sox hitters not named David Ortiz hit a combined .169.
But Boston figured out how to get on base, just like they did during the regular season and throughout the postseason. They posted a better postseason on-base percentage (.313) than the St. Louis Cardinals (.281), drew more walks (59 to 48) and stole more bases (12 to 6). In the World Series, Boston also had a better average with runners in scoring position (.250 to .214).
All year long, the Red Sox have been dangerous because of their tablesetters. The top three hitters in their lineup -- Jacoby Ellsbury, Victorino and Dustin Pedroia -- get on base often. And when they do, they wreak havoc on the bases, creating opportunities for the middle-of-the-order boppers Ortiz, Napoli and Gomes.
The Orioles hit 34 more home runs than the Red Sox this season, but Boston scored 108 more runs. The Red Sox hit .278 on the season with runners in scoring position, compared to the Orioles’ .266.
The Orioles were one of the few teams that outplayed the Red Sox in head-to-head matchups. They were the only AL East team with a winning record against Boston, going 11-8 against the Red Sox. They were one of just four teams to have a winning record against the Red Sox in 2013.
Minutes after the final out of Game 6, Las Vegas oddsmaker R.J. Bell released the odds to win the 2014 World Series. The Orioles have 28-to-1 odds, according to Bell.
Too soon? Or just on time?
The Los Angeles Dodgers are the favorites at 5-to-1, followed by the Detroit Tigers (8-to-1), Washington Nationals (9-to-1), Cardinals (10-to-1) and Red Sox (12-to-1).
The Yankees are listed at 15-to-1 and the Tampa Bay Rays are 29-to-1. The Toronto Blue Jays have 45-to-1 odds.
The Houston Astros are the biggest long shot, according to Bell, at 250-to-1.
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