Red Sox

McAdam: A look back at five seasons when the Red Sox turned out to be far better than projected

(Pat Greenhouse/Boston Globe via Getty Images)

If there's a 2020 season -- hardly assured, of course -- the Red Sox will have the luxury of playing without having much much expected from them.

After all, the team traded its best player in February and lost its best pitcher until the middle of 2021 a month or so later. So much for being bullish on the 2020 season.

But as history reminds us, things don't always go according to plan. Sometimes a team woefully underachieves, failing to come close to what was predicted for it. And other times, a team pleasantly exceeds expectations, enjoying the kind of year no expert had forecast.

If the 2020 Sox are to fall into the latter category, they can take their historical cues from these five past Red Sox teams who were far better than anticipated:

1. 1967

This is the gold-standard for "Where did that come from?'' seasons. The 1966 Red Sox had finished ninth in what was then a 10-team league, and when new rookie manager Dick Williams proclaimed in the offseason: "I know one thing -- we'll win more than we'll lose,'' it sounded like the ravings of a madman, or at the very least, more than a bit of wishful thinking.

But a few months into the season, the prediction didn't look nearly as outlandish. Buoyed by the Triple Crown heroics of Carl Yastrzemski -- coming into his peak at 28 -- and Jim Lonborg, the Red Sox morphed into surprise contenders, winning games in dramatic, come-from-behind fashion and gaining confidence along the way.

From a four-team pack, they emerged on the final weekend of the season to claim the franchise's first pennant in 21 years and only the incomparable Bob Gibson -- and Lonborg being forced to start Game 7 on just two days' rest -- derailed their World Series hopes. But no matter: the Impossible Dream season turned a generation of casual fans into Red Sox lifers.

2. 1982