The Red Sox enter September coming off their best month of the season, in the driver’s seat for the Wild Card and hopefully about to see the return of three top bats, a key backup and their top starter just in time for the stretch run. Not shabby.
Cool Standings has the Sox at a just under 90 percent chance of making the postseason. No team other than the Rays has better than a 5.2 percent chance of winning the Wild Card, and if the Rays win the WC, it’ll be because of a collapse they won’t soon forget.
Baseball Prospectus’ playoff odds put the Sox as even more of a sure thing — nearly 97 percent chance of making the playoffs and a better chance of winning the division (24 percent, vs. 17 percent for Cool Standings). The Sox’ excellent last week of August — in which they took series from two potential contenders — boosted their playoff odds by better than 15 percent, according to BP. Even yesterday, the Sox gained more than they lost by simply being in first place while another raft of games ticked off the calendar — nearly 3 percent, as a matter of fact.
History is also on the Sox’ side. The 2008 club is the 27th in Red Sox history to post better than a .580 winning percentage after 136 games. Six of the other 26 won the World Series, another five won the AL pennant, and a total of 13 went to the playoffs. That number climbs to 15 when you count the two teams that played a 163rd game to determine postseason attendance before the Wild Card made such games nearly obsolete. In fact, the Red Sox would have won the Wild Card or better under the present rules in 21 of the 26 seasons in which they made it this far with a record this good. That’s a success rate of nearly 81 percent.
I’m not ready to break out the champagne just yet, but things are looking mighty fine in Beantown. Let’s hope we’re saying the same at the end of September.