Boston Red Sox July 2013Going into this season with so many new faces, including new manager John Farrell, many Boston Red Sox fans considered this to be a rebuilding year.

As it stands, they have more wins than any other major league team and the second-largest first place lead (3.5 games over Tampa Bay). Only the team that used to be based in Boston (Atlanta Braves) commands a larger gap between their squad and the second place Washington Nationals (5.5 games as of this publication).

The Red Sox seem fueled primarily by a sense of consistency and a lack of any serious slumps. Their longest losing streak so far this year is just three games, although they have experienced four skids of that same length.

Early in the season, they put togetherseven straight wins, and they've managed three five-game winning streaks since then. The team's had some concerning, close-shave losses and complete collapses late in games they were winning handily, but they've also enjoyed miraculous comebacks. They have a 4-3 record in extra innings so far this season thanks to a solid relief pitching staff bolstered by new acquisitions like Koji Uehara and Craig Breslow.

New starting pitcher Ryan Dempster might be turning out to be a disappointment with a 5-8 record so far, but he leads the team with 100 strikeouts. Felix Doubront (6-3) and Jon Lester (8-5) continue to shine on the mound in the absence of ace Clay Buchholz (9-0), who is out with a neck injury. The team's gone 18-12 since Buchholz's last outing on June 8th.

Injury bugs that have completely crippled teams like the New York Yankees seem to be something the Red Sox developed an immunity to this year. Just when fans might think the loss of a key player could spell disaster, the batter or pitcher who steps in starts to turn heads.

Even pinch-hitters for the Sox have incredible stats this year, and Mike Carp and Johnny Gomes are becoming particularly adept at hitting game-winning blasts. Gomes has three walk-off home runs so far this year while Carp has one and two other pinch hits with three RBIs in that role.

The Red Sox offense is perhaps the most surprising aspect of the team's success with David Ortiz leading that effort as baseball's all-time leading DH in terms of hits. Even at 37 years old, "Big Papi" leads the team in batting average (.331), home runs (19), RBIs (65) and on-base percentage (.412). The hefty Red Sox hero also has three stolen bases and a pair of triples on the season.

Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury gives the Red Sox their most potent stolen base threat with 36 swipes so far on 39 attempts, and he also currently has the team's longest hitting streak at 18 games.

Second baseman Dustin Pedroia led the team in runs with 55 scored so far -- until Ellsbury surpassed his run total Wednesday night against the Mariners with his 56th and 57th run scored. Pedroia's potency is impressive considering he's been dealing with a thumb injury throughout the season. Pedroia also has a team-leading 114 hits to his credit this season. He's played in 91 games so far, more than any other player on the roster.

Then there's third baseman Jose Iglesias who came out of nowhere to produce a .387 batting average over 48 games played with a home run and 14 RBIs. Iglesias additionally leads the team in infield hits.

The team's multiple talented veterans are all contributing with excellence on both offense and defense, but it's the offensive output that leads the league in runs, on base percentage and slugging percentage. Red Sox batters also have the second best batting average in the league as of Thursday morning.

There are really too many standout players to mention that make the Red Sox "Boston Strong."

Every contributor is key to this team's dominant play this year, and the Red Sox have all the ingredients to make another World Series run in October.


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