The phrase ‘ The whole is greater than the sum of its parts’, often attributed to Aristotle, was explained in iperceptions.com on March 17, 2014 as meaning ‘ when individual parts are connected together to form one entity, they are worth more than if the parts were in silos ‘.
The May 22, 2012 ‘Strategies Newsletter’ produced by T. E. Wealth, related the concept to sports when they said ‘First coined by the philosopher Aristotle, this phrase aptly defines the modern concept of synergy. For anyone who has played team sports, it echoes the T.E.A.M. acronym—together, everyone achieves more.’
The 2018 Boston Red Sox are the perfect example of a whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Mookie Betts, J. D. Martinez, Chris Sale and Company is, for the most part, a collection of mostly average with a few exceptional baseball players none of which, with the possible exception of Betts and Sale, will ever be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Taken separately, there is nothing to distinguish this group of players from others that have had winning seasons.
Yet, they have put together one of the most successful seasons the game has ever seen. It is entirely possible that the team may not be, as Sale said a couple of weeks ago, ‘The greatest team ever to walk the planet’. However, this team has to rank up there with the best of them.
The USA Today, in an article about the best teams in each individual franchise’s history, named the 1927 Yankees, with Murderer’s Row, the best team in Yankee franchise history. That team won 110 and lost 44, and swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series. They had Earl Coombs, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Waite Hoyt, Tony Lazzeri and Herb Pennock all of whom are in the Hall of Fame.
They said the 1976 Cincinnati Reds ‘Big Red Machine’, that won 102 and lost 60 and swept the Yankees in the World Series was the best that franchise had ever produced. Manager Sparky Anderson, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and Tony Perez, from that team, are all in the Hall of Fame and they also had Pete Rose, who everybody knows had the numbers to be there.
The USA Today article picked the 1912 Red Sox as the best team in their franchise history. That team won 105 and lost 47 and beat the New York Giants 4-3 (with one tie) in the World Series. That team had Hall of Famers, Harry Hooper and Tris Speaker and pitcher Smokey Joe Wood won 34 and lost 5 with a 1.91 ERA. USA today also said that the 2004 Red Sox team, which won 98 and lost 64 but swept the Cardinals in the World Series might have been the best of the Red Sox with future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez and probable future Hall of Famer David Ortiz.
This year’s version of the Red Sox, with a day to day lineup, with 12 games left in the season, that included Jackie Bradley, hitting.232, Eduardo Nunez, .262, Sandy Leon,
.182 and Mitch Moreland at .246, certainly doesn’t compare with Murderer’s Row or the Big Red Machine on paper. Of course they also had Mookie Betts at .337, leading the world, J. D. Martinez at .328 with 41 homers and 122 RBI’s, Xander Bogaerts, .288, Andrew Benintendi, .287 and Ian Kinsler at .283.
As a team, they led all of baseball in batting average, .267, runs scored, 799, doubles, 323, on base percentage, .337 and slugging percentage, .450. Their pitching had the fifth best ERA and the third best in the American League at 3.64.
This team was a cohesive unit prior to this year. Betts, Bogaerts, Bradley, the nucleus of the unit, are young players committed to winning and the Sox have done that over the past few years. In addition to their World Series wins in 2004, 2007 and 2013, they have won the Eastern Division the last three years. Alex Cora was exactly the type of leader this group needed.
Much credit belongs with Dave Dombrowski for filling the holes in the roster with players that, for the most part, fit the mold of the nucleus. There have been some mistakes over Dombrowski’s term but there have also been great moves like the additions of Steven Pearce, Ian Kinsler, Eduardo Nunez and the jettisoning of Hanley Ramirez that have strengthened the unit.
The addition of J. D. Martinez, although no one could have anticipated it would have such a wide ranging effect, was a big key to this year’s success. He provided the veteran, stable, committed presence that is more responsible for this year’s success than anything else in addition to improving the offensive production.
The credit for this unbelievable season, belongs with the Ownership Group, led by John Henry. While I have not always agreed with everything they have done, they put Dombrowski and Cora in place and had final approval on the changes made to strengthen this team. Red Sox Nation is a proud place to live this year and their leadership is ultimately responsible for that.
Who knows exactly what it is that makes a group of players as effective as the Red Sox have been this year while, down in New York, the Yankees team, that appeared to be poised to begin another dynasty, falls apart? Aristotle never heard of baseball or the Red Sox but he hit the nail on the head with this one.
Let’s hope that the synergy or chemistry that has made the Red Sox better than the sum of its parts continues through the playoffs and World Series.