The 2013 Boston Red Sox
2012 Record – 69-93, 5th in AL East
2013 Record – 97-65, 1st in AL East
What changed? The Red Sox began their offseason by firing Bobby Valentine and hiring John Farrell as their new manager. Their most significant player acquisition was signing Shane Victorino to a three year, $39 million dollar deal. They inked Mike Napoli for three years, but later ratified the deal to a one-year agreement after a physical revealed that Napoli had a hip problem. They also signed Stephen Drew, David Ross, Koji Uehara, and Johnny Gomes before the new season began.
How did they get there? The Sox marched to the World Series by defeating the Tampa Bay Rays in four games in the ALDS and besting the Detroit Tigers in six games in the ALCS. They took down the St. Louis Cardinals in six games in the World Series to claim their third World Series title in ten years.
What could they have in common with the Texas Rangers? The 2013 Boston Red Sox are an important team on this list because they made the largest single-season improvement of any World Series winner since the Wild Card Era began. In 2012, the Red Sox only won 69 games and finished in last place in the American League East. They stormed back in 2013 to win 28 more games than the season prior, finishing with a 97-65 record and winning the American League East.
However, their pythagorean win-loss record of 74-88 in 2012 hints at the possibility that the team was actually better than what their record indicated. The 2022 Rangers can relate. According to their phtyWL, they should have won nine more games in 2022. A major issue was the team’s 15-35 record in one-run games. If the Rangers could simply go .500 in one-run games in 2023, it’s easy to see how they could make significant improvements just like the Sox did in 2013.