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The Rest of the Way

Sorry I haven't been around much the last couple of weeks. Work got crazy, home never stopped being crazy, and since I'm starting grad school next week, it doesn't look like things will change anytime soon.

Selfishly, the Red Sox and Yankees have not put their pennant race on hold to better accomodate my schedule. As Peter Abraham astutely notes this morning, the teams are tied atop the division with 34 and 36 games remaining, respectively. Further, slight difference in winning percentage aside, they are both on pace to win 99 games.

Abraham takes a cursory look at the rest of the schedule for the two teams and concludes:

By virtue of having fewer games and a greater percentage of them at home, the Red Sox would seem to have an advantage in the race. Both teams have aging players in key roles and how they hold up down the stretch could determine the division champion.

He predicts the Sox take it with 97 wins to the Yanks' 95. In either case, one team will face the league's best pitcher twice in a five-game series while the other will face one of the league's best offenses with three games in one of the game's most offense-friendly ballparks. Fun times.

If I can pull anything positive out of the recent spate of injuries and the overall malaise into which the Sox have slumped this month (12-10, +3 run differential, 4.3 runs per game) and in particular the last two weeks (6-7), it's that a slump of this sort was inevitable, and it's better that it happen in August with a nearly impenetrable wild card lead than in September, when you're wanting the club to be getting ready for the playoffs.

That said, here's hoping last night's destruction of Colby Lewis and the Rangers, featuring the electrifying return of Jacoby Ellsbury, heralds a return to health and consistent winning for the Red Sox from now through the end of October.

5 replies on “The Rest of the Way”

The analysis ignores the Yankees huge advantage in run differential. Quite simply, the Red Sox are not a great team against everyone but the Yankees. In those contests, they sport a .586 WPCT, or a 95 win pace over the season. The Yankees, on the other hand, are a great team against everyone but the Sox. In those contests, they sport a .658 WPCT, or a 107 win pace.
What’s more likely to be a fluke: 12 games or 112 games? The answer is obvious.
Still, I’m exactly hoping the teams meet in the playoffs. And I’d expect the Red Sox to win that matchup. They have the much better starting pitching and that means everything in October.
But they both have to get there. And in a weird way, the Sox would do better to see the Tigers and so win the division (5-1 record this year vs. 1-4 against the Rangers). The Yankees would be better to face the Rangers (7-2 record vs. 3-4 against Detroit). Baseball is all about matchups. This true rivalry of the Wild Card Era demands the Yankees and Sox actually play meaningful games. Apart from 1978, that’s only happened in the playoffs ;)

Of their remaining 34 games the Red Sox play teams better then .500 24 times. That’s good news, they are clearly superior in that category in the AL, with a 42-28 record.
The Yankees are superior at getting the job done against the teams they should beat with a 41-18 record. They play those sub .500 teams only 19 times in their remaining 36 games.
So one could argue the Red Sox have 5 more opportunities than the Yankees in situations they have both proven to be superior in.
But as we all know, all these analysis means nothing. That’s why they play the games. May the best team win.

The Red Sox are a combined 42-10 against the A’s, Yankees, Blue Jays and Orioles, teams they will play 23 times over the next 34 games.
They will also play the Rays seven times (5-6 record thus far) and the Rangers five more times (1-4).
We could simply extrapolate their performance to date against those teams forward through the remainder of their games and get a final record of: 101-59.
I doubt that will work out just this way, and I always dread playing the Yankees and Rays, but the Sox have a nice schedule coming up, and this doesn’t account for most of these games taking place at home. They’re in a good spot; now they have to make the most of it.

Isn’t the sample size 139 games, and not 112 or 12? What am I missing?
Compartmentalizing the standings by head-to-heads is kind of like saying “if Barack Obama hadn’t gotten the African American vote, McCain would be President”. It marginalizes that sector, and falsely.

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