Chasing a Championship: The 2023 Red Sox Season

Oliver Henke, Contributing Writer

The Red Sox are a real championship contender this year, just months removed from the end of their disastrous last-place campaign in 2022. Contenders for the Spring Training Grapefruit League championship, that is. The Red Sox hit the ground running and were the final undefeated team in all of Major League Baseball, with an 9-0-3 record. As NESN’s Tom Caron pointed out during the broadcast of the 4-4 tie with the Astros on March 4th, the last time the Red Sox won the Grapefruit League was 2018. They then went on to win 108 games in the regular season and steamroll their way to a World Series championship.

Even though the odds are stacked against them, the vibe within the club appears to be strong.

Beyond that, there is not much hope for the upcoming season. The only remaining Red Sox members from the 2018 team are Rafael Devers, Ryan Brasier, and Chris Sale, and projections for the team predict a fourth or fifth place finish in the AL East. While the Red Sox did lock up Devers to an 11-year contract over the offseason and committed $105 million to Japanese star Masataka Yoshida, the Sox also lost the face of the franchise, Xander Bogaerts, to the Padres. On top of that, Trevor Story, the presumptive replacement for Bogaerts at shortstop, had elbow surgery, sending the middle of the diamond into chaos. The Red Sox’ rotation is anchored by Sale, Corey Kluber, and James Paxton. These top three would have amounted to baseball’s best rotation—five years ago

Although projections may look bleak for the Red Sox, at least the time spent between pitcheswhich is the normal time to ponder why you are watching the Red Sox in the first placewill be shorter. With the new pitch clock instituted into the MLB, games will be shorter and more action-packed, a change that has been applauded in the early days of spring training. In addition, the new schedule will have the Red Sox playing every single team this season, seeing the AL East only 52 times, as opposed to 76 in previous years. This is a welcome change as the Sox went 26-50 within the division last year. 

Early in spring training, some intriguing players include up-and-coming prospect Ceddanne Rafaela, along with Raimel Tapiainfamous for his inside-the-park grand slam against the Red Sox as a member of the Blue Jays, Jorge Alfaro—who allegedly has been nicknamed “Aquaman” (look up a picture, and you will see it), and Ryan Fitzgerald—who will have a bobblehead day with the WooSox on September 16th. 

Even though the odds are stacked against them, the vibe within the club appears to be strong. While pundits love talking down the importance of spring training success, building confidence before the season can make a substantial difference. In addition, spring training games are played by high-level prospects along with major-league talent, and winning these games is promising for the prospects coming up through the system. According to one-time ace Chris Sale, who is poised to return to prominence after undergoing Tommy John Surgery, a rib fracture, a broken pinky, and a broken wrist, “We’re here to make some noise.”

This article also appears in our March 2023 print edition.