For the 19th consecutive year in Major League Baseball, the defending World Series champions will not be retaining their title the following year.
After winning a franchise-record 108 games in 2018 and blowing past the Yankees, Astros and Dodgers in the playoffs, the Red Sox in 2019 were a completely different team.
With a rough start to the season, it didn’t seem as if the Red Sox were carrying their momentum into the next year.
Their ace Chris Sale, who Boston just signed to a contract extension, struggled early and lost his first four starts. In addition to Sale, the Red Sox starting rotation was the main problem in 2019. Former Cy Young winner Rick Porcello has had a very disappointing year, and $217 million dollar lefty David Price had a very rocky year, battling injury. Eduardo Rodriguez has been their most consistent starter and his ERA is close to four.
The first sign of this failure to defend their title was letting Craig Kimbrel go. Thinking they can trust their back end of the bullpen with Ryan Brasier, Matt Barnes and Nathan Eovaldi was a mistake for Alex Cora and general manager Dave Dombrowski. It clearly didn’t work, and after signing with the Cubs halfway through the year, Craig Kimbrel had his worst season yet. However, it could have gone another way if he stuck with Boston.
The Red Sox will win around 85–88 games this year but they didn’t even come close to the Yankees at all this season. They also have a sub-.500 record at Fenway Park.
in the middle of September, the Red Sox showed the last of the 2019 season when they fired their general manager Dave Dombrowski, who has been a huge part of the success of the last years, including the championship run in 2018.
The Red Sox also have some questions going into the offseason, leading with the future of Mookie Betts. Do they re-sign him after a one year deal and give him a huge contract that the former MVP could also get elsewhere or do they let him walk? J.D. Martinez is another question mark with an option to opt out of his contract. He is a full-time designated hitter for the Red Sox and they may feel they are paying too much for a DH.
This sort of story is usually called a championship hangover, but it just shows how long a baseball season is for the 30 clubs that have won in the past two decades. There hasn’t been one to repeat as World Series Champions. With 162 games in the regular season, including a month and a half of spring training and a month of playoffs, anything can happen.
The Red Sox had a rough season and it goes to show that dynasties are tough to come by in the nation’s pastime.