Photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor

I projected the Red Sox to finish fourth in the division this season.

To be fair, I am an idiot. I predicted Jason Heyward would win the National League MVP award, and he went on to be only the third-most-valuable player on his own team in terms of fWAR, with a blistering 3.4 on the year.

So I’ve been wrong before.

And it’s not like anybody really disagreed with me. Most people saw this season as an improvement in the sense that they probably – probably – wouldn’t completely hate this team the entire season the way they did in 2012. The most optimistic projections had the Boston win total in the high-80s, not all that much higher than my own low-80s fourth-place projection.

So it’s not like anybody else was right, either.

With all that said, there were moments during the 2013 Boston Red Sox’ playoff run where I was simply staggered by just how wrong I was.

There are plenty of people out there who are going to attribute the 2013 squad’s success to chemistry and team play. Subsequently, there are going to be plenty more people who discount that – teams don’t win because they get along, they win because they have talent (See: Dodgers, Los Angeles). Such is the state of baseball debates today.

The latter is certainly true, to be sure – this team had three players finish with over 5 WAR and a whopping eleven over 3, and that certainly helped their chances – but to me, that’s not the point.

This team put together one of my favorite sports seasons every, and I’d come to this decision well before they finally put away the Cardinals; when Ortiz hit his grand slam against the Tigers, I was sold. Book it. The championship wasn’t really necessary to win me over at that point – although I really, really wanted that championship, don’t get me wrong – and a huge part of that was the simple fact that this team was fun to follow.

The 2012 team was a horrible experience for me as a Red Sox fan. They suffered from injuries, clubhouse drama, an incompetent manager, and lost a lot of games. All of that combined to mean one thing: they just weren’t fun. I didn’t look forward to Red Sox games; I dreaded them. I didn’t seek out Red Sox news; I avoided it. I hated following that team.

When it comes down to it, this year’s Red Sox team could have finished right at my prediction, and I would have been fine with it. Wouldn’t have thought anything of it at all. Instead, they went above and beyond. I’ll remember this team for exactly that: for blowing me away in a season of no expectations.

We’re the champs. It’s a great feeling.

Along the journey towards writing this article, I stumbled across the Fire Brand staff’s preseason predictions. Potential goldmine of comedy as this might have been, I had to take a look through it all and write about it. Here are some highlights:

• Right off the bat, featured in the intro: “10 of the 11 writers picked the Nationals win the NL East.”
• Nobody picked the Red Sox to win the AL East. The only teams chosen to win the division were Tampa Bay (decent) and Toronto (ouch).
• Eight writers picked Mike Trout for AL MVP. The other choices? Jose Bautista, Adrian Beltre, and Robinson Cano. Nobody picked Miguel Cabrera.
• The Los Angeles Angels received seven picks to win the AL West and two picks to take a Wild Card spot. That’s nine playoff predictions for a team that finished 78-84. Yikes.
• Exactly one writer – Dan Podheiser – picked the Pittsburgh Pirates to make the playoffs.
• AL Cy Young votes were split between Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander. Unsurprisingly, Max Scherzer was nowhere to be found.
• Four writers picked Clayton Kershaw for the NY Cy Young, because sometimes, this stuff can be easy.
• AL ROY was unclear even before the season started – picks consisted of Dylan Bundy, Jackie Bradley Jr, Wil Myers, Jurickson Profar, Brandon Maurer, and Aaron Hicks.
• Our own editor, Hunter Golden, picked Jackie Bradley Jr. for AL ROY. You know who else did that? Pete Abraham!
• Fire Brand founder Evan Brunell picked the Chicago White Sox to make the playoffs. The White Sox finished 63-99, three games worse than the Cubs.
Yasiel Puig received only two NL ROY votes. Jose Fernandez received none.
• They were the preseason darlings for a reason: five writers predicted the Nationals would win the World Series, and three predicted the Tigers. Kudos to Brett Cowett for thinking outside the box and choosing the Reds, though.

And last but not least, my own personal preseason predictions, for your mocking pleasure:

• AL East: Tampa Bay Rays (WRONG)
• AL Central: Detroit Tigers (CORRECT)
• AL West: Texas Rangers (WRONG)
• AL Wild Cards: Los Angeles Angels (WRONG), Oakland Athletics (WRONG)
• NL East: Washington Nationals (WRONG)
• NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals (CORRECT)
• NL West: San Francisco Giants (WRONG)
• NL Wild Cards: Cincinatti Reds (CORRECT), Atlanta Braves (WRONG)
• NL ROY: Shelby Miller (LIKELY WRONG)
• AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez (LIKELY WRONG)
• NL Cy Young: Stephen Strasburg (LIKELY WRONG)
• NL MVP: Jason Heyward (VERY, VERY WRONG)
• World Series: Nationals over Tigers (LOL)