Ranking the Red Sox World Series championship teams of the 21st century


On Sunday, the Boston Red Sox won their fourth World Series title in 15 years, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 in Game 5 of the 2018 World Series. This year’s Red Sox team won 108 games during the regular season and were the only team in baseball never to lose four games in a row. They went on to the postseason where they rolled over two exceptionally talented teams in the New York Yankees and 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros to win the American League pennant before topping the Dodgers.

This year’s championship for Boston is part of an era of greatness for this franchise that no one in Boston could have ever thought would be possible before the 86-year long title drought ended in 2004. I took some time to rank each of the last four Red Sox World Series championship teams. But, I’m sure every Red Sox fan out there appreciates each of these teams equally.

Here’s what went into consideration for the rankings:

  • Roster strength
  • Regular season record
  • Path to the World Series

4. 2013

The 2013 Boston Red Sox team went on a bit of an unexpected run, even with their first-place finish in the American League East. The Sox lineup was tough, but not exactly expected to get past the Tigers’ historically good rotation. (Just a quick side note here: current Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello was part of that Tigers’ rotation and current Red Sox President Dave Dombrowski was the general manager of the Tigers in 2013, but I digress…)

Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Koji Uehara quickly became the core of Boston’s pitching staff, and you had veterans like Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, David Ross and Mike Napoli in the lineup. They were centered around Boston legend David Ortiz. Their postseason path past the Rays, Tigers and Cardinals was definitely not the toughest path out of the four championship runs.

The ’13 Sox are ranked here because I believe they were probably the least talented out of the most recent Sox champs, but there’s no denying that this team was perhaps the most determined. The 2013 Red Sox became unifying to the city of Boston with the message of Boston Strong after the Boston Marathon bombings. I mean how can you forget Ortiz’s speech at Fenway Park after the bombings? Oh, and his grand slam game-winner in the eighth inning of ALCS Game 2?

3. 2007

In 2007, Ortiz, Manny Ramirez and Jason Varitek were all vying for their second World Series championship. This squad also was the emergence of young, homegrown players: Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Kevin Youkilis. Plus, a few quality acquisitions along the way: Mike Lowell, Daisuke Matsuzaka, J.D. Drew and Josh Beckett

Beckett had one of the best postseason performances of his career with the ’07 Sox. He went 4-0 in four starts with 30 innings, 35 strikeouts, two walks and four runs allowed. Oh, and the 2007 Red Sox still had Curt Schilling. Although at the end of his career, Schilling still was dominant, going 3-1 in his four starts. While the 2007 Red Sox bullpen depth was better than both the 2004 and 2013 teams, the 2007 team can’t match the depth in starting pitching that the ’04 and ’13 teams had.

These Sox posted an 11-3 postseason record, sweeping the Angels and Rockies and overcoming a 3-1 deficit against the Indians.

2. 2004

  • 98-64, Finished 2nd in AL East
  • ALDS 3-0 over Anaheim Angels
  • ALCS 4-3 over New York Yankees
  • World Series 4-0 over St. Louis Cardinals 

The one to break the curse. The 2004 Red Sox come the closest to challenging the 2018 Red Sox as Boston’s best World Series championship team. In 2004, Boston had the highest level of difficulty in their path to the World Series, mostly due to the three-games-to-none deficit they faced versus the Yankees in the ALCS but also because of the sheer pressure of trying to win a championship for first time in nearly nine decades. After a grueling ALCS, which featured four straight wins (two of which went to extra-innings), over the Yankees, the Sox went on to sweep the 105-win Cardinals in the World Series.

The youngsters of Boston had stars like Big Papi, Manny, Pedro and Johnny Damon to look up to. Honestly what it comes down to, in part, is that without this team, Boston wouldn’t have begun its evolution into one of the most consistently excellent franchises in baseball.

1. 2018

  • 108-54, Finished 1st in AL East
  • ALDS 3-1 over New York Yankees
  • ALCS 4-1 over Houston Astros
  • World Series 4-1 over Los Angeles Dodgers

This Red Sox team, simply put, was unstoppable in 2018. Baseball’s winningest team went 11-3 in the postseason, including an impressive 7-1 record on the road. The Red Sox beat a 100-win Yankees team that was coming off a deep 2017 postseason run, they got past the 2017 World Series champions and 103-win Houston Astros and they beat a talented 92-win Dodgers team. 

These Red Sox were impressive all season long, and they really earned their championship in the postseason. After losing to the Yankees at home in Game 2 of the ALDS, they bounced back by winning Game 3 where they scored 16 runs at Yankee Stadium. (Alex Cora reminded everyone about that at the parade Wednesday.) Then, after losing to the Astros at Fenway in Game 1 of the ALCS, they went on to pull of four wins in a row including three in Houston at Minute Maid Park.

This team’s true greatness was revealed after their 18-inning loss to the Dodgers in Game 3 of the World Series — the longest World Series game in history. It looked like the seven-hour long game had worn out Boston in Game 4, but then the team bounced right back to score nine runs on the Dodgers over the final three innings.

The 2018 Sox were a complete and athletic team, balanced in every facet of the game. They led Major League Baseball in batting average (.268), runs (876), hits (1,509) and ERA (3.75). Stars like Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Chris Sale and Andrew Benintendi were paired with 35-year-old and World Series MVP Steve Pearce and ALCS MVP Jackie Bradley Jr. to make up one of the most relentless Sox teams in history. And maybe even in all of baseball. 

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