The Final Month

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.

39 comments… add one

  • what scares me is that the twins have 6 home games against the royals this month. they do face tampa bay 4 times in tampa and have a 3 game series at home with the white sox. i would have figured the white sox and twins would have faced each other a few more times heading down the home stretch. the white sox still have series left with the angeles and yanks. they also have a 10 day home stand followed by an 11 day road trip. both central teams face the blue jays, and those may be the deciding games.
    regardless of the other teams schedules, the red sox just need to win games. it’s alot nicer to be in the position of controlling your own destiny.

    sf rod September 1, 2008, 4:17 pm
  • F*CKING PAUL BYRD! He puts away Roberts on 3 strikes but gives up a solo homer to Jones.

    Atheose September 1, 2008, 7:07 pm
  • Other than Lowell and Drew, who is the other “top bat” coming back?

    Sam-YF September 1, 2008, 7:12 pm
  • I think he means Sean Casey, Sam.
    Olsen walks the bases loaded. Is it bad that I feel dread when we have the bases loaded, but am confident when Daisuke is in the same situation?

    Atheose September 1, 2008, 7:19 pm
  • ah, thanks ath. I didnt realize Casey was considered a top bat

    Sam-YF September 1, 2008, 7:26 pm
  • VARITEK TIES IT!

    Atheose September 1, 2008, 7:29 pm
  • He may not be a “top bat” but he’s been filling in a lot for Lowell (playing first, with Youk moving over to 3rd), and he’s hitting like .350 so that’s a tough bat to lose. Jeff Bailey is good, but he’s not that good.
    And RIGHT as I type that he hits a homer too! 2-1 Sox.

    Atheose September 1, 2008, 7:30 pm
  • It’s a goddamn homerun derby. 2-2.

    Atheose September 1, 2008, 7:39 pm
  • paul byrd is homerun machine. i guess it’s good he doesn’t walk people or these solo shots would 2 and 3 run jobs.

    sf rod September 1, 2008, 7:41 pm
  • I was actually referring to Youkilis, who’s been sick. Casey is the key backup.
    Home run derby today. Juan Castro ties it. So Adam Jones, Jeff Bailey, Jason Varitek and Castro now have a combined 24 home runs. They increased their combined production by 20 percent today…

    Paul SF September 1, 2008, 7:42 pm
  • homeruns to jones and castro. they had 8 collectively on the season going into this game.

    sf rod September 1, 2008, 7:43 pm
  • Paul Byrd = Clay Buchholz with better luck and better control. An upgrade, in other words, but not exactly a fun one to watch.

    Paul SF September 1, 2008, 7:44 pm
  • The good thing about Byrd is that he throws strikes–30 pitches through 3 innings, despite giving up 3 hits already.

    Atheose September 1, 2008, 7:50 pm
  • 40 pitches through 4. Big improvement over Buchholz.

    Atheose September 1, 2008, 7:54 pm
  • Just 10 pitches that inning. Byrd actually seems better this start than previous performances. Hopefully he’s reached his homer quota for the day..

    Paul SF September 1, 2008, 7:55 pm
  • The home runs aside, I am less than impressed by the bottom third of our lineup.

    Paul SF September 1, 2008, 8:02 pm
  • Youk makes a nice play to end the inning. 51 pitches through 5, and we’re halfway through the game after less than an hour. Wow.

    Atheose September 1, 2008, 8:09 pm
  • Another terrific, efficient inning from Byrd. The bats need to back him up…

    Paul SF September 1, 2008, 8:09 pm
  • Are the Red Sox unaware that Garrett Olson has an ERA over 6??

    Paul SF September 1, 2008, 8:12 pm
  • Pedroia has been hitting the ball hard, but hasn’t gotten much luck.

    Atheose September 1, 2008, 8:12 pm
  • A bloop single, sacrifice and then a line drive up the middle and the O’s have the lead. Bah.

    Atheose September 1, 2008, 8:19 pm
  • Surely three runs won’t be enough to win this thing, right?

    Paul SF September 1, 2008, 8:19 pm
  • Despite getting in trouble this inning (bases loaded now) Byrd has only thrown 14 pitches. Please get an out here.

    Atheose September 1, 2008, 8:24 pm
  • Ugh, Byrd now having all sorts of problems. Bases loaded. Get the out, please…

    Paul SF September 1, 2008, 8:24 pm
  • Whew… Maybe we can start teeing off a guy who hasn’t thrown a quality start since June 28.

    Paul SF September 1, 2008, 8:30 pm
  • There we go, Jason Bay! Drive him in, Jed!

    Paul SF September 1, 2008, 8:31 pm
  • Lowrie drives him home!! Jay (Jerkface) Payton tries to deke out Bay and misplays the ball… Awesome.

    Paul SF September 1, 2008, 8:32 pm
  • HAHA Lowrie tattoo’s a ball towards the monster, and Jay Payton completely loses the ball in the lights… unless he was trying to bluff out the runner. Tie game.

    Atheose September 1, 2008, 8:32 pm
  • I know Crisp has been hot lately, but I am not eager to see him here with two men on. He’s Kd twice tonight…

    Paul SF September 1, 2008, 8:37 pm
  • Crisp proves me wrong! The Sox take the lead!

    Paul SF September 1, 2008, 8:39 pm
  • GOD BLESS COCO! Two out single takes the lead!
    5-9 hitters all with hits… 1-4 hitters are 0 for 10.

    Atheose September 1, 2008, 8:39 pm
  • Infield single by Ellsbury keeps it going. Laser show time.

    Atheose September 1, 2008, 8:41 pm
  • MVP.

    Atheose September 1, 2008, 8:45 pm
  • Not an easy save for Paps but he gets it done. We gained half a game on the Rays at least.

    Atheose September 1, 2008, 9:54 pm
  • Gagne’s ERA is 6.81. HA! Hope you enjoyed your last payday, useless.

    Devine September 1, 2008, 10:31 pm
  • Gained a game on Chicago, and half on Minnesota (they’re both tied for Central now, 3 GB of Red Sox).
    I’ve just about given up on the division, but it’s not quite impossible yet. Win both these next two series and see how it goes with the Rays next week.

    Devine September 2, 2008, 12:10 am
  • Not sure why you’d say that “the Wild Card made such [163rd] games nearly obsolete” when that’s exactly how the Rockies won the Wild Card last year.
    Also, what the 1948 Red Sox played was a 155th game, not a 163rd; regular seasons were a bit shorter then.

    Ron Newman September 2, 2008, 10:02 am
  • Maybe that’s why I said “nearly.” You need to tie for the Wild Card to need a 163rd. Ties for the division or league lead no longer require playoff games, so 1948 and 1978 would not have taken place under today’s rules.
    Point taken on 1948/155th game.

    Paul SF September 2, 2008, 10:36 am
  • Ties for the division lead still require playoffs if the teams don’t have a good enough record to qualify for the Wild Card. We had one of those in 1995. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-game_playoff
    We’ve all gotten so used to the Wild Card winner coming out of our division, we forget it doesn’t always happen.

    Ron Newman September 2, 2008, 10:58 am

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