I mean last year, an old topic I know but still fresh to me. I figured the Sox to go .500 in the regular season at best. Once they were in the postseason, I figured the Rays had a good shot at beating us again, but especially the Tigers and especially after their first two starters pitched so well and neither was Verlander. St Louis, not that much of a surprise. At long last I had a little faith.
So what happened? In the regular season we saw the collective strength of the new Sox and their new manager. Ortiz, Pedroia, and Ellsbury all good to very good seasons, but no surprise. Victorino, Napoli (especially fielding), Gomes, Nava, Ross, Bogaerts, Carp, and Drew all had better seasons than expected, and almost all, except Nava, were new in Boston. The bad chemistry of September 2011 and all of 2012 was gone. Farrell did a lot of platooning and it usually worked.
The biggest surprise of course was the pitching, 3.79 ERA for the season, which is great for any team playing half their games at Fenway. Lester, Buchholz, Doubront, and especially Lackey were all better than expected, and finally so was the bullpen. Dempster not so great but OK for a 5th starter. Peavy an OK fill-in for Buchholz.
If you doubt that good pitching beats good hitting, look at the Sox in the 2013 postseason. The Rays, granted, weren't that great at hitting, but the Tigers and Cardinals were. Nevertheless the Sox postseason ERA for 16 games was an insane 2.00. Against good hitting teams. And that ERA can be parsed further because Lester and Lackey were absolutely our best postseason starters. Lester was best, but Lackey beating Verlander 1-0 in game 3 of the ALCS was a gigantic win. The bullpen--Uehara, Breslow, Tazawa, Workman, Doubront, Morales, and Dempster--had an ERA of 1.28 spread over 16 games. This meant that great starts by opposing pitchers did not always result in Sox losses, see especially Ortiz's gigantic, stupendous, never to be forgotten tying grand slam in the 8th inning of game 2 against the Tigers. Before that moment, the Tigers pitching staff, without Verlander even getting near the mound, were dominating our lineup.
In the regular season, the Sox led the majors in runs scored and OPS, which was .795, but in the postseason's 16 games, the Sox OPS was a paltry .664. Nevertheless, the Sox also led all postseason teams in runs scored and did it by and large with clutch hitting--see key dingers by Ortiz, Gomes, and Victorino, and a I probably skipped a couple of other big hits.
So that's how they did it. In the regular season good hitting, much better than expected pitching, and terrific chemistry. In the postseason great pitching and clutch hitting--against three pretty good teams, Rays, Tigers especially, and Cardinals. Latter two teams were #2 and #3 in MLB in runs scored in the regular season, so the Sox pitching was undeniably great in the postseason, especially the bullpen.