Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez—"Two of the best players at their positions in the game," notes G.M. Theo Epstein—turn a good club into Boston's third championship team of the century.
The 2010 injury plague continues, and is compounded by three rotation veterans (Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka) who fail to lower their combined '10 ERA of 4.84.
Cliff who? The rotation is solid early and extraordinary late, due to a deadline trade for Marlins' ace Josh Johnson and the sensational arrival of 20-year-old minor league lefty Manny Banuelos.
The down 2010s for Derek Jeter (.710 OPS) and Alex Rodriguez (.847) turn out not to be down years reversible by a new swing (Jeter) or a 3% weight loss (A-Rod), but the start of inexorable declines.
"We could win the AL East every year, and the next season we're going to be at least rated third," says manager Joe Maddon. "I love it!" The 2011 AL East champs are picked third again in '12.