Four major professional teams, four playoff appearances, two trips to the finals, one championship and a city that despite being attacked, rallied around their own and their teams during a year that no New Englander will ever forget.
Here’s a look at the athletes whose statistics made them Boston’s 2013’s sports statistics heroes.
15. Jordan Crawford
Acquired from the Wizards for Leandro Barbosa and Jason Collins on Feb. 21 as little more than a spare part off the bench, Crawford ascended into the starting point guard role in Rajon Rondo’s absence, and is one of the main reasons Boston finds itself in the hunt for first place in the Atlantic Division.
Since donning the shamrock, Crawford has played in every game, leads all Celtics in assists, has one of the teams’ two triple-doubles (along with Paul Pierce) and places third in steals (38) and total points (641). In a conference that features the likes of LeBron James, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony, it was Crawford who earned Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors for December 2-8 when he averaged 23.3 points and 6.7 assists in leading his team to a 3-0 record.
14. Mike Napoli
Red Sox first baseman
The inspiration of the Red Sox’ beard brigade that swept a nation, Napoli, signed twice as a free agent by Boston in 2013, put up big numbers in between. Fears of hip issues that delayed his original signing never materialized and a healthy Napoli placed second to David Ortiz on the team in home runs (23), runs batted in (92), slugging percentage (.482) and OPS (.842).
He shared American League Player of the Week honors twice with a teammate, first with Andrew Bailey during the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing and then with Will Middlebrooks at the start of September, making him one of only two Red Sox players (joining Adrian Gonzalez in 2012) to take home two such weekly honors in a season since 2006.
13. Julian Edelman
Patriots wide receiver
Where would offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and quarterback Tom Brady be without the former Kent State quarterback who entered the season in the unlikely role of the most experienced receiver on the Patriots roster? The fifth-year man responded to being asked to replace the production lost by Wes Welker’s defection by more than doubling his previous career totals across the board while placing fourth in the league in receptions (96), or 23 more than Welker’s total in Denver.
12. Jose Iglesias
Former Red Sox shortstop/third baseman
Based on his 2012 season, it would’ve been hard to imagine a more unlikely stats hero than Iglesias, but for the first part of 2013 the previously light-hitting shortstop put up some incredible offensive numbers. A seemingly permanent resident below the Mendoza line prior to 2013 with a career .135 batting average, Iglesias didn’t see his 2013 average dip below the Williams line (.400) until July 7, reaching heights not seen in a century.
Best of all, his hot streak raised his value to the point where Ben Cherington was able to trade him for Jake Peavy, who solidified the starting staff that ultimately won the World Series.
11. Shane Victorino
Red Sox outfielder
Nobody tore up late August like the Flyin’ Hawaiian. From the 17th to the 31st of the month Victorino played 13 games, collected multiple hits in nine, with five home runs, 14 RBIs, a .434 batting average and .811 slugging percentage. He had an amazing .474 clip on balls he put in play over that span while helping lead the Red Sox to a 9-4 record and raising his slash line .020/.022/.054 in the span of just two weeks.
10. Paul Pierce
Former Celtics forward
The Truth went out with a bang in his Celtics career, posting three triple-doubles in 2013 prior to being traded to the Brooklyn Nets. Pierce’s biggest game came on Feb. 10 against the Nuggets when he scored 27 points to go along with 14 assists and 14 boards in a 118-114 double overtime win.
Since the ABA-NBA merger, the only other Celtic to reach all of those figures in a single game was Larry Bird who had 30-15-17 against the Bullets in 1987.
9. Rob Gronkowski
Patriots tight end
The validity of the saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder’’ couldn’t be any clearer than the case of Gronkowski, who proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s the keystone of New England’s offensive attack. In the seven games he played between lengthy absences for surgeries on his forearm and back at the start of the year and now while awaiting knee reconstruction surgery to end it, Gronk showed what a beast he is when reasonably healthy, adding nearly two touchdowns to the Patriots scoring average, placing among the league leaders in first down receptions, and amassing a four-game touchdown scoring streak.
8. Clay Buchholz
Red Sox starting pitcher
In modern major league baseball history, only seven men have ever won at least 90 percent of their games with at least 10 decisions in a season in which their earned run average was below 2.00. Of those, only Buchholz and likely Hall of Fame shoo-in Greg Maddux (1.63 ERA, .905 winning percentage in 21 decisions in 1995) started as many as a quarter of their appearances. Sure, Buchholz missed a bulk of the season due to injury, leading many in Red Sox Nation to question his durability, but when he was on the mound he was the AL Pitcher of the Month of April.
His 12-1 mark, 1.74 ERA and 1.03 WHIP and 234 ERA+ makes him more than worthy of inclusion on this list no matter how much time he missed.
7. Chandler Jones
Patriots defensive end
Despite seeing a constant stream of his star defensive teammates heading to the sideline and injured reserve due to injuries, the second-year man is tied for fifth in the NFL in sacks (11.5) while also being responsible for 5.5 tackles of runners behind the line of scrimmage.
In the entire NFL, only St. Louis’ Robert Quinn (27), Indianapolis’ Robert Mathis (22), Houston’s J.J. Watt (20), Tampa Bay’s Lavonte David (19.5), and Buffalo’s Kyle Williams (17.5) have dropped more opponents for losses. Jones’ 11.5 sacks are the second-most for a Patriot in the Belichick era (Mike Vrabel, 12.5 in 2007) and fifth most for the franchise since sacks became an official statistic in 1982 (Andre Tippett, 18.5 in 1984, 16.5 in 1985, 12.5 in 1987)
6. David Krejci
The Bruins fell just short of their second Stanley Cup in three years, but it was no fault of Krejci, who led the league in the playoffs with 26 points and 17 assists while placing behind only Chicago’s Patrick Sharp (10) in goals with nine, although Sharp took 35 more shots.
The Bruins scored 13 more goals than their opposition with Krejci on the ice during the playoff run, second-best among all skaters to teammate Nathan Horton’s +20 rating.
5. Tom Brady
There are few quarterbacks who wouldn’t give anything they owned to have an “off’’ year like Tom Brady has had in 2013. Despite playing without his favorite pitch and catch partner (Rob Gronkowski) for all but seven games, and with a green receiving corps, Brady has thrown for more yards (4,885) during January’s playoffs and the ‘13 regular season than everyone not named Peyton Manning. Most importantly, he led all of the league’s passers in comeback victories and game-winning drives (five apiece).
4. Tuukka Rask
There’s no Boston athlete currently better at his position in his respective sport than the Bruins netminder, who since New Year’s Day 2013 (including the postseason) leads the NHL in shutouts (11), goals-against average (1.92), and save percentage (.934), while tying Chicago’s Corey Crawford in wins with 52.
Tasked with replacing Tim Thomas between the pipes in 2012, in the 2013 postseason he matched Thomas’ otherworldly .940 goals-against from the 2011 Stanley Cup run and bested his goals-against average 1.88 to 1.98, falling just 76 seconds short of forcing a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals. (minimum 40 games played for the averages)
3. Andre Williams
Boston College running back
Normally the numbers examined for Boston.com’s Stats Driven are contained to professional sports, but based on his incredible 2013, the NCAA’s leading rusher will soon be among those playing on Sundays and deserves recognition for the greatest college football season anyone in this area has seen since Doug Flutie won the Heisman Trophy.
Williams placed fourth in Heisman voting, yet became just one of three players this millenium to rush for at least 2,000 yards and average at least six yards per carry. His 2,102 rushing yards not only led the FBS in 2013, he placed second in total yards from scrimmage behind Western Kentucky’s Antonio Andrews despite not catching a pass all season.
2. David Ortiz
Red Sox designated hitter
Becoming the alltime leader in hits as a designated hitter, as he did in July, was enough to qualify Big Papi, already the recepient of Boston.com’s quote of the year, for the No. 2 spot on this list. But when coupled with his insanely great postseason when he led everyone with on-base and slugging percentages of .500 and .706 respectively, Ortiz shoots up the list. His ridiculous World Series slash line of .688/.760/1.188 rank second/second/tied for eighth alltime in the Fall Classic — the first two of which rank as the highest in any Series that lasted more than four games — and earned him runaway World Series MVP honors.
1. Koji Uehara
Red Sox closer
Uehara wasn’t only the greatest local stats story of the year, he was the top Boston newcomer of 2013 by far. A nondescript free agent signed in December 2012 to bolster what appeared to be a team strength, Uehara pulled the Sox season out of the fire, ascending to the role of closer after Andrew Bailey, Joel Hanrahan, and Junichi Tazawa all were given opportunities before him.
All he did was respond with one of the greatest seasons for a closer. His 38 straight batters retired amounted to a perfect game plus 3 2/3 innings and flirted with the major league record of 41. He was virtually spotless in save opportunities during the regular season, allowing just three runs (two earned) on nine hits and one walk in 25 innings of work with a save at stake, converting 21 of his chances, while raising his alltime strikeout-to-walk ratio to 8.74, the best, by far, among all major league pitchers with at least 20 career innings of experience.
He was just as good in the 2013 playoffs, saving all seven chances he received to tie the alltime postseason record. He allowed just one run in 13 2/3 innings and claimed ALCS MVP honors en route to winning his first World Series ring.