Road wins are great, mostly because they're historically harder to come by for the Red Sox, who tend to be a .500 team away from Fenway Park (as we've discussed before). Road wins against tough AL East opponents are even better. Going 8-1 in New York, Toronto and Tampa? That's inconceivable.
The Sox are now 22-14 on the road, a .611 winning percentage, higher than the .594 they've posted at home. Using the same, totally unscientific method we used back in April, we should expect a Sox team playing 36 road games and 32 home games to go 18-18 away from Fenway and 22-10 in the home confines for a total record of 40-28, a 95-win pace. The Sox are three games off the mark at home but four games ahead of it on the road, and so are 41-27, one game better than the goal.
Though they've been in first place for a week, this really marks the point at which the Sox have dug out of their season-opening hole. The Red Sox are no longer taking advantage of what appears to be an unusually weak division to stay in the race; they are legitimately on pace for a season on par with the playoff-contending teams they have fielded for the better part of a decade.
The best part, however, is that they have done this while playing more games on the road than at home. For the rest of the season, they have more home games than road games to play overall, as well as against all of their AL East rivals, including two-thirds of their remaining nine games against the Yankees. They also have the vast majority of their interleague schedule left to play, something the Sox have dominated with at least a .611 winning percentage in each of the past six seasons.
If the Sox simply play to their recent norms at home and on the road, they would go 23-22 on the road and 33-16 at home, finishing the season with 97 wins.
Of course, that's no guarantee. Jed Lowrie, a big part of the team's early success in climbing back from the 2-10 start, is likely headed to the DL. Clay Buchholz, a huge part of providing stability to the starting rotation, has had back problems linger through four starts. John Lackey remains a huge question mark, and relying on the likes of Alfredo Aceves, Tim Wakefield and Andrew Miller for anything more than the occasional start is a scary prospect. The bullpen, despite Theo Epstein's best efforts, remains a big question mark. And the team could simply slump again and fall off the 95-97-win pace again.
But right now, with eight road wins against division opponents in the bag and 15 games against National League opponents coming up, the Red Sox have put themselves in the ideal position moving toward the season's halfway mark.
4 replies on “Money In the Bank”
Jekyll and Hyde coming up – Brewers, one of the better NL teams, then the Padres, one of the lesser ones. I am not nervous about the Brewers, per se, but am curious to see how the NL’s best stacks up against the AL’s best.
Buchholz’ injury, however, does make me nervous. He’s been fantastic lately, and the Sox can ill afford to lose him.
Baseball-Reference has a fun little stat they put on their front-page standings called SRS, or Simple Rating System. It’s how many runs per game better or worse than average the team is, based on their Pythagorean record and adjusted for strength of schedule.
The Brewers are at 0.1. Not very good, but still tied for third-best in the NL. The Sox are at 1.4, second-best in the major leagues to the Yankees (1.7), who have the better Pythag record.
Every National League team has a negative strength of schedule ranking, which strikes me as problematic, either for the stat or the league. Not sure which, but it’s interesting anyway.
I really hate being right. Especially in this case. The Sox are scary good, no matter where they play, home or away.
Fear the Brew Crew SF, that’s a good team…Not Sox good, but they can hit and occasionally pitch (When Greinke, Marcum or Gallardo are on the bump). Plus Axford has that magical mustache…Beware!
I don’t mean that I am sure that the Sox will manhandle the Brewers, not at all. I meant more that I am unsure if they are a good squad, a great squad, or just a good NL team. I honestly don’t know about them so therefore I am not particularly nervous going into the series.
Certainly the Sox could get flummoxed by this crew.