Red Sox win AL pennant: Six things to know about Boston's latest World Series appearance
From Alex Cora to Dave Dombrowski, there's a lot of history on the line
The Boston Red Sox defeated the Houston Astros in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Thursday night, thus winning the best-of-seven series by a 4-1 margin. The Red Sox as a result are the 2018 AL champions and will advance to play either the Los Angeles Dodgers or Milwaukee Brewers in the World Series. The Dodgers currently lead the Brewers by a 3-2 margin in the NLCS, with Game 6 going down Friday.
As such, here are six things you should know about Boston's latest pennant victory.
1. The 14th in franchise history
This represents the Red Sox's first pennant since winning the World Series since 2013 -- that was their eighth world title. Technically, it was the seventh for "Red Sox," who won a championship and two pennants as the Boston Americans. But Baseball-Reference counts those and so then will we.
This will mark the eighth time the Red Sox have made the World Series since 1918. It's also the fourth time they've reached since Bill Buckner's infamous gaffe in the 1986 World Series.
2. Regular-season performance in context
The Red Sox won 108 games this season. You might wonder what other teams won the pennant after such a brilliant regular season. The answer is not too many recently.
The Red Sox were just the third team since that last round of expansion to win 108 or more games. The others, the 2001 Seattle Mariners and 1998 Yankees, had mixed postseason outcomes: The Mariners lost in the ALCS, the Yankees won the World Series.
Of the 11 total teams to win at least 108 games, 10 reached the Fall Classic. Eight won it. There's nothing inherently predictive in that statistic, but it's a nifty piece of history.
It's perhaps worth noting the Red Sox would have the most regular-season wins among World Series winners since the 1986 Mets -- yes, the same team that beat the 1986 Red Sox, and who also won 108.
Conversely, these Red Sox would have the most wins among World Series losers since the 1969 Baltimore Orioles, who won 109 games.
3. A dominant presence in the modern era
As hinted at above, the Red Sox have made a habit of reaching the Fall Classic. They're now tied for the second-most World Series appearances since the last round of expansion (1998) alongside the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals with four each.
Naturally the New York Yankees, with six, still lead the majors in this category.
4. First trip to the World Series for many stars
While the Red Sox as a franchise have been to the World Series a lot in the past 20 years, a large number of their current players are about to make their first trips.
Put another way, just three of the Red Sox's top 12 performers (per Baseball-Reference's WAR) have performed in the World Series before. Those three: Xander Bogaerts, who was a 20-year-old contributor on Boston's 2013 title team, plus David Price and Rick Porcello, who have about four combined innings of World Series experience.
Obviously the number of players to appear in the World Series increases when the entire roster is taken into account. But the players people think about when they conjure up images of this club -- Mookie Betts, Chris Sale, Andrew Benintendi, J.D. Martinez, Craig Kimbrel and so on -- are all going to be debuting in the Fall Classic in a few days' time. That's pretty cool.
5. Cora makes history
To state the obvious, this will also be rookie manager Alex Cora's first World Series as a skipper. (He was the Astros' bench coach last season, so it's not his first as a coach overall.)
Cora could become the first rookie manager to win the World Series since Bob Brenly did it in 2001 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Whatever happens, he's the first Latin-born skipper to reach the World Series in his rookie year.
6. Dombrowski chases ring, two decades later
Red Sox executive Dave Dombrowski has sufficient World Series experience.
Dombrowski, then, has spent the past two-plus decades seeking another World Series win. He might just get it this year.
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