Since the baseball strike ended the 1994 season, the Red Sox have made the playoffs nine times in the subsequent 15 years.
The expansion of the playoff system obviously has had a great deal to do with this, as seven of those nine appearances came via the Wild Card. But not even in the days of the Boston Americans has this club experienced such prolonged success. From 1903 to 1918, the Sox qualified for the postseason just six times (though the '04 Series was canceled), and the early Red Sox dynasty, from 1912-18, featured four postseason appearances in seven years — two fewer than the Sox' continuing run from 2003-09.
For those of us who grew up with the terrible Red Sox teams of the early 1990s, this is truly amazing. For those who go back to the early 1980s or early 1970s or mid 1960s — strings of mediocrity interrupted by flashes of greatness falling just short – I can't believe it's any less stunning.
Consider this, from the Baseball-Reference postseason Play Index:
- Jason Varitek has a whopping 252 postseason plate appearances, and David Ortiz has 248. The most any Sox hitter had achieved before this run was Dwight Evans, with 130.
- Despite never having the opportunity to face the Yankees in the playoffs until 1995, the Sox have faced New York pitchers 774 times in the postseason, more than any other team in baseball. The Indians, whom the Sox faced in 1995, 1998 and 1999, are second. The Cardinals (1946, 1967, 2004) are third.
- The top seven in Sox postseason hits are all names from the past seven years: Ortiz, Varitek, Ramirez, Nixon, Youkilis, Damon, Garciaparra. Wade Boggs, who appeared in what at the time was an incredible three postseasons for the Sox, now ranks eighth.
- After compiling three walk-off hits through 1975 (Duffy Lewis in 1915, Del Gainer in 1916, Carlton Fisk in '75), the Sox have banged out seven since 2003, including three by Ortiz alone, a big-league record.
We've said this numerous times, but we do indeed live in fortunate times as members of Red Sox Nation. Congratulations yet again to the crimson hose, and thank you.