One year ago, the Boston Red Sox were licking their wounds after a 69-win, last-place season. Two months prior, they had jettisoned three big-time players with larger contracts (Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett) to the Dodgers for a package of players that, while talented, would provide no immediate help. What appeared to be the beginnings of a full demolition instead began a simple retooling.
General manager Ben Cherington, seeing that a solid foundation of Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester was already in place, used the money he freed up in the Dodgers trade to sign mid-tier free agents like Shane Victorino, Ryan Dempster and Stephen Drew along with a few bargain-basement gems: Jonny Gomes, Koji Uehara and Mike Napoli.
Still, not much was expected. Vegas put the over/under at 82.5 wins and experts picked the Rays or Blue Jays to win the division. Instead, the Red Sox went from last to first, improving by a whopping 28 games.
With the Red Sox in the World Series, let's look ahead to 2014 to see which teams have the best chance to improve by at least 20 wins next season. Based on Steamer player projections and 10,000 simulations of the season, the following three teams were determined to have best chances to become the "Red Sox" of 2014.