Wednesday, September 01, 2010
THIS IS THE END
Even after losing 2 of 3 to Tampa, there were some overly optimistic sunshine lovers out there who thought the Sox had a realistic shot at a playoff spot. "All they have to do is go 26-6." That was the refrain. My favorite part of that sentence is the "all they have to do" part. As if prolonged stretches of .800+ baseball were common.
The optimist would then go into the schedule, pointing out games with the likes of Baltimore. But it's been the likes of Baltimore that have kept the Red Sox well in check this season. After last night's loss, the Sox are 6-7 against the O's. The Yankees are 10-2 against Baltimore. The Rays are 9-3. The Blue Jays are 12-0.
The Sox' struggled against mediocre and bad teams have been well documented. And I've tried to think of why this might be. But I realized something last night: with a few exceptions, the Red Sox are only slightly better than a .500 team.
The Angels, the Blue Jays, and interleague play have boosted the Sox. Those are the exceptions. The norm is to be average. The Sox have winning records against 5 teams. And three of those are by only a game (4-3 against Kansas City, 3-2 against Minnesota, 4-3 against Seattle). They're .500 against 3 teams (Cleveland, Detroit, Oakland). They have a losing record against 4 teams. Let me reiterate that. Winning record against 5 opponents. Split with 3. Losing record against 4.
The Sox were 9-1 against the Angels, 11-4 against the Blue Jays, and 13-5 against NL competition. Overall, the Red Sox are 74-58 (.561). But take out the games against the afore-mentioned opponents, and they're 41-48 (.461). I had to triple check that number. 45% of the Sox' wins have come from 33% of their games. They've crushed the Angels. They've owned Toronto. And they rolled through the NL. But the norm for this team is actually below average.
This is not a good team. And the struggles against weaker opponents like Baltimore is just normal.
Why are the Sox not good? The short answer is: injuries, mediocre defense, a shabby bullpen, John Lackey's and Josh Beckett's disappointing seasons. It's not rocket science.