COMMENTARY| Well, this start was a bit unexpected.
The 2013 Boston Red Sox were picked by many to finish either fourth or fifth in the AL East this season. As May nears, the Red Sox have the best record in baseball at 18-7. To go along with that, Boston has the best road record at 7-2. Not a bad start for a team that was expected to battle it out in the basement all season long.
The question now becomes why are the Red Sox doing so well? For one thing, Boston has the sixth best fielding percentages (.989) in the majors. The Red Sox have committed 10 errors; however, nobody on the team has committed more than one. David Ross has also been outstanding at throwing runners out. Through 25 games, Ross has thrown out 30 percent of would-be base stealers.
It's not unexpected that the Red Sox would be solid in the field. Dustin Pedroia is a gold glove talent, there is tremendous speed in the outfield, and the pitching staff was expected to be smooth. Additionally, Will Middlebrooks and Mike Napoli have performed much better than expected. The play from Stephen Drew at shortstop has also shored up the middle quite well.
The bats have also been an asset for the Red Sox in the early season. Boston is third in the league in scoring with 128 runs. While they haven't blown the doors off anyone with homerun totals so far this year, the teams is collectively hitting .272 with a baseball best .347 OBP (tied with Detroit) and second best in OPS (.789).
One of the major stories continues to be David Ortiz at the plate. As a result of his Achilles injury, Big Papi has only played the last eight games, but he has made his presence felt. The 37 year old already has two HRs and 11 RBIs, with a team best OPS of 1.400. Not bad for someone who hasn't played a game since last August.
The Sox are also getting great starts from unexpected sources like Mike Carp (.455 BA), Daniel Nava (16 RBIs), and David Ross (3 HRs in 9 games). It has certainly been a team effort at the plate for Boston.
While the fielding remains solid and bats continue to produce, the real story is on the mound. The bullpen has lived up to the expectations that it would be effective early in the season. However, the starting pitching has been nearly flawless, and continues to be one of the best units in the league. The Red Sox have been the toughest team to hit (.221 BAA) in the majors this season, while posting the third best ERA (3.39) in the American League.
Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz have been exactly what Boston has needed. The two have acted like aces on a staff that couldn't find a decent pitcher in 2012. They are a combined 9-0, and have allowed just 13 earned runs in just over 69 innings. There is a sense of invisibility when either of the two is starting a game.
Meanwhile, Ryan Dempster pitching much more efficiently than many expected. Felix Dubront is 3-0 and John Lackey picked up a win in his first outing since suffering a bicep strain in his first start. And most importantly, the team managed to stay afloat while Lackey was injured. Allen Webster and Alfredo Aceves filled in, proving the Sox may be able to sustain an injury or two to the rotation.
This has been the first month to remember for the Red Sox since Sept 2011. Of course that month will be remembered for the collapse, while this April will be remembered in a much more positive light. There's still plenty of baseball to be played, but Boston should be more than satisfied of the performance they have given their fans so far.
Chris Sedenka is a Yahoo! Contributor in Sports covering the Boston Red Sox.You can listen to his daily radio show on 96.3FM in Portland, ME or at thebigjab.com. He is also the voice of the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League.
You can follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisSedenka.
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