I will readily admit that this Red Sox 2013 performance is a surprise to me. I did not hazard a guess in the win prediction thread, but I'd peg my preseason expectations at something just about .500. 84-86 wins maybe. Competitive, but mostly just hanging around. I thought the team would be more likable, but potentially struggle to score runs and have to win a lot of 4-3 or 3-2 kind of games. Which would, of course, put a lot of burden on a pitching staff of which I was skeptical.
But I could see the pitching staff having a great year. Sure, I thought, if Lester and Buchholz return to form (and Clay looked great at the end of last year), Doubront continues to have strikeout stuff, Lackey goes back to pitching the way he did before his elbow was shredded, and Dempster does 200 innings of 4.50 ERA, this staff could be pretty damn good.
And they are. At a 3.76 ERA for the year, they've exceeded my expectations (though in this era of the pitcher, that's not as impressive a team ERA as it has been recently - it's only sixth in the AL).
However, there's no way I saw this offensive output coming.
Currently, the Sox are first in OPS+ (114), first in OPS (.804 - .050 better than #2 Cleveland), and first in runs (326, 13 better than Detroit - they're on pace for 775 runs or so. 808 lead the league last year. In 2011 the Sox lead with 875. Yanks lead with 915 in 2009 - if you need more proof things have swung toward pitching).
As such, the team currently has the best record in the American League.
The question is: Is this sustainable?
There are reasons to think it's not. Is it possible Daniel Nava, Mike Carp, and Jose Iglesias with wind up with respective OPS+es of 135, 165, and 185? Is Ortiz really going to post a 1.000+ OPS at the age of 37?
But the offense in some ways has room for growth. Drew is just starting to consistently hit after a bad start. Ellsbury has heated up considerably and may be getting a feel for his power and break out with some HRs. Middlebrooks may figure something out at AAA and inject some power into the lineup when Iglesias inevitably cools down. Gomes is heating up. Carp might actually be this good when healthy.
So there are reasons to think the Red Sox do, indeed, have the best offense in the AL. Raise your hand if you saw this coming.