A.L. East

Red Sox finish first in consecutive seasons for third time in their history

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Red Sox finish first in consecutive seasons for third time in their history

So what do John Farrell, Bill Carrigan and Jimmy Collins have in common?

The same thing Cy Young, Babe Ruth and Mookie Betts have in common.

They're all members of the only three Red Sox teams to ever -- as in ever -- finish first in two consecutive seasons.

It's true: In their 117-year history, the Red Sox have finished first in back-to-back seasons only three times -- 1903-04 (that was the team managed by Collins, with Young as the ace pitcher), 1915-16 (managed by Carrigan, with The Babe as a budding star) and, now, 2016-17. (No need to mention Farrell and Betts, since you're probably familiar with them.)

The 1903 Red Sox won the World Series -- the first Series ever played -- but didn't get a chance to defend their title: In 1904, the National League champion New York Giants refused to participate. The American League was only four years old at the time and there was no umbrella organization known as Major League Baseball. The A.L. champ would challenge the N.L. champ at the end of each season, and '03 was the first time the N.L. champ -- the Pittsburgh Pirates -- picked up the gauntlet. After the Sox beat Pittsburgh, the Giants said no thanks the following season. (From 1905 forward, however, there was a World Series every year . . . except for 1994, when it was canceled by a strike.)

In 1915 and '16 the Sox also won back-to-back World Series for the only time in their history, beating the Phillies in '15 and the Brooklyn Dodgers in '16.

They won't get the chance to do that this year because, obviously, they didn't win the World Series in 2016. But this season's already notable: After all, it's been more than 100 years since they've finished first for two straight years.

However: 

Thanks to the expanded postseason field, they've made the playoffs in consecutive seasons three other times: 1998-99, 2003-05 and 2007-09. The only division title in that span was in 2007; every other year, they were the A.L. wild card.