Thursday, August 03, 2006

Red Sox Lucky to be in First

Let's talk about the Red Sox' record. They are 22 games over .500, just .002 behind the Yankees (or the Wankees, as my 2 year old son calls them). They are 5 games better than their pythagorean record, which indicates that they've been very lucky this year. Milwaukee is the only other team that has won as many as 5 more games than their pythag record indicates they should have won by now.

They are 25-19 against the AL East, which is 3rd best in their division. They are 10-8 against the Central and 13-13 against the West. So overall, they are a pedestrian 48-40 against the AL. The Yankees are 54-33, the Jays are 48-41. Even the White Sox are 49-39 against the AL. Oakland and the Angels are both 49-41. The Sox padded their record against the Senior Circuit, going 16-2. So this bodes well for them if they make it to the World Series, but they need to get through the AL first.

Scarier still is that the Sox have faced the AL's 10th hardest schedule. 9 AL teams have had more difficult schedules thus far. This is how the Sox have fared against other playoff contenders:
White Sox: 2-1
Detroit: 2-1
Angels: 1-2
Twins: 0-3
Yankees: 5-5
Oakland: 3-4
For a record of 13-16.

But there's good news. Oakland is 21-21, LA is 18-16, and Minnesota is 19-22. The closest team to dominance is Chicago, at 19-14. Tom Caron writes this about the rest of the season:

Adding to the importance of this run is what lies ahead. That noise you hear is the approaching rapids, the white water the Sox must navigate beginning Aug. 14.

That's when they open a three-game series with the Detroit Tigers, the best team (record-wise) in baseball. After that they face the Yankees, Angels, Mariners, A's, Blue Jays, and White Sox.

Those seven teams have a combined record of 420-326, a .563 winning percentage. Six of the seven teams are within 3.5 games of a playoff spot. The seventh, Toronto, has won seven of 11 games against Boston this season.

We've been talking about this stretch -- 22 games in 21 days beginning with a Fenway Park doubleheader against the Yankees -- for months. We've still got two weeks before it starts, making this prelude vital to Boston's postseason hopes.

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