The really fun thing about the World Series for me was watching the Red Sox’ young players have their own “coming out party”. While the veterans on the club (Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett, and World Series MVP Mike Lowell) all had fine series, the younger players were equally impressive:
- Jacoby Ellsbury (CF, rookie, age 23) went from playing in AA to hitting 438/500/688 in the World Series, with 4 doubles and a stolen base. It would be a stretch to say that he won Game 3 all by himself, but he was certainly the highlight of the game.
- Dustin Pedroia (2B, rookie, age 23) hit 278/350/500 with a double and a home run. The potential 2007 Rookie of the Year was even better in the ALCS.
- Kevin Youkilis (1B, age 28) actually was a rookie back in 2004, but didn’t play in the 2004 World Series. He only batted 222/417/444 in the World Series and missed out on most of the games in Colorado because of the lack of a DH, but he was a total monster in the ALCS, batting 500/576/929 (!) with 3 (!!!) home runs. He also went the whole 2007 regular season without committing an error (and then committed 3 in the playoffs). He’ll probably never be a star, but he’s put to rest speculation that the “Greek God of Walks” wouldn’t be very valuable because of a lack of power. He might have a better career than John Kruk did, even if he is already 28.
- Jon Lester (SP, age 23) came all the way back from chemotherapy for cancer to pitch 5.2 shutout innings and become the winning pitcher in the series clincher. He’ll likely be the Red Sox’ 4th or 5th starter next year, assuming either or both of Curt Schilling and Tim Wakefield head elsewhere.
- Jonathan Papelbon (RP, age 26) didn’t allow a run in the Series and saved 3 games.
- Daisuke Matsuzaka (SP, rookie, age 26) isn’t a true rookie, as he was a big free agent pickup from Japan last off-season, but he was nearly the Sox’ “forgotten star” as he faded down the stretch, possibly because he threw more innings in 2007 than he ever had in Japan and just got tired. But he picked up his game in the ALCS and World Series, throwing two good games and getting a key base hit in Game 3 of the World Series. Japanese players often seem to do better in their second year in the Majors, so I fully expect Matsuzaka will be better next year than he was this year. Other than fatigue, I think there’s nothing to worry about here.
I love seeing young players do well, and it’s additionally encouraging that the Sox have a solid core of young players to build around for the next 2-3 years (if not longer). This doesn’t even count other “under-30-somethings” on the roster, like Beckett, Clay Buchholz, and Manny Delcarmen.
The Red Sox’ future is already here, and it just won a World Series.