A little more than a year ago with the worst Red Sox season in almost half a century winding down it became apparent that John Farrell was the team's first choice to become its new manager.

In turn that led some to ask: Why?

What they wondered was the fascination with a manager whose own team was kept out of the American League basement only by the presence of the Bobby Valentine-plagued Red Sox? What was the attraction of a manager who had never finished with a winning record?

A year later those questions seem foolish with the benefit of hindsight.

Farrell has overseen a turnaround that has the Red Sox improving by a minimum of 25 wins -- and counting. And Friday night it was capped with the clinching of the American League East the franchise's first in six seasons.

The division wasn't won by default or some flukish second-half winning streak either. The Sox broke from gate 20-8 and never were more than three games out of first place at any one time during the season.

From Memorial Day forward the Red Sox spent a grand total of seven days out of first place and were never more than a half-game out of the top spot in the division.

One of the reasons the Sox sought Farrell last fall -- as they had the autumn before only to be put off by the Blue Jays' asking price -- was his pitching acumen and more specifically his familiarity with key Red Sox pitchers Jon Lester Clay Buchholz and others many of whom enjoyed their best big league seasons when Farrell was the team's pitching coach from 2007-2010.

Sure enough by early June Lester and Buchholz were a combined 15-2 and the Red Sox were off and running.

But Farrell's real contributions can't be measured in the standings or on a stat sheet.

Following the disastrous September of 2011 during which the Sox sputtered to a 7-20 finish and fired Terry Francona the Sox doubled down on disaster and hired Valentine who divided the clubhouse and the organization within months.