The 2021 Boston Red Sox have been a pleasant surprise to date, winning 12 of their first 19 games with a group that was expected to hover around .500 after a disastrous 2020 campaign.
But Christian Vazquez doesn't seem surprised by Boston's early success.
Prior to Wednesday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Red Sox catcher drew a parallel between these Red Sox and the 2018 team that won 108 games en route to a World Series title.
"I’m going to tell you the truth,” Vazquez said, via MLB.com. "In spring training, everybody was talking about the right language. It’s the same language we talked in 2018 and we won [the World Series] that year.
"I’m not telling you we’re going to win this year, but we’re going to go on the same track. It’s fun to see the [guys] in the dugout and the clubhouse in spring training all together talking about everything, and about getting better every day. I feel like it’s a family here. We’re together and it’s fun to see this."
The COVID pandemic may play a role in Vazquez's observation: Last year's Red Sox were literally separated, with two players occupying each luxury suite at home games instead of everyone being in the clubhouse together. Now that the team can finally share a clubhouse, it makes sense that they feel a strong sense of camaraderie.
"Some days [last year] I didn’t see my teammates that day until we were in the dugout or when they’re coming in from the bullpen, so it’s tough to have fun like that,” Vazquez admitted.
Boston also added a number of fresh faces this offseason, though -- Alex Verdugo, Kike Hernandez, Marwin Gonzalez, Franchy Cordero, Hunter Renfroe, Garrett Richards, Matt Andriese, Adam Ottavino, Garrett Whitlock and Hirokazu Sawamura -- so the fact that they're getting along well this early in the season is an encouraging sign.
There's a good chance the Red Sox flaws catch up to them, and that their shaky pitching depth and inconsistent defense cause them to fall back closer to .500. They're certainly not the juggernaut that was the 2018 Red Sox.
But chemistry goes a long way toward team success, and with Alex Cora back at the manager helm, that appears to be a strength of the 2021 Red Sox.