Friday, August 26, 2011

Remaining schedule analysis - Boston vs. New York - 8/26



It's a strange and different schedule that Major League Baseball has put together this year, a season that started on a Friday and finishes on a Wednesday. There are just under five weeks left, and the AL East is "too close to call." (Not that it seems to matter much, as, again, the Red Sox and Yankees are both going to the playoffs [barring some miraculous intervention].) So, as we head down the home stretch, it's time to start looking at the remaining schedules.

First, a look at the overall home/away schedules.

Red Sox/Yankees Schedule Comparison - 8/26/2011
BostonNew York

total remaining3233

home1913

away1320

The Red Sox have a clear advantage here. They've got one more off-day than the Yankees do in the last month, and they've got many more home games, and many fewer away games, than the Yankees. [Note: The Yankees also have one more home game against the Tampa Bay Rays that was post-poned and has not been re-scheduled. It will likely not be played until and unless it becomes necessary for resolving the standings.]

Head-to-head:
3 in Boston, 3 in New York

Common games:
3 in Baltimore, 3 in Toronto, 3 in Tampa

3 hosting Baltimore, 2 hosting Toronto, 3 hosting Tampa

As division rivals, a lot of the schedule actually looks pretty similar. They've got six left head-to-head, three in each stadium, so there's no advantage there. And they've each got home and away series remaining with each of the other teams in the AL East, so that part all looks the same.

Differences:
BostonNew York

Away

Toronto (1)LAAngels (3)

Seattle (3)

Baltimore (2)


Home

Oakland (3)Minnesota (1)

Texas (3)Toronto (1)

Baltimore (1)

Tampa (1)

And there we see the real differences. Take away the head-to-head and common games, and the Yankees have eight on the road, six on the West Coast, where Boston only has one in Toronto. (Note - most of the 1-game series listed in this section aren't actually 1-game series - they're just differences between the length of series that the two teams are playing at the various sites. Boston isn't going to Toronto for one game - they're going for four, but New York's only going for three.) Boston has eight home games, New York has only two.

Advantage - BIG advantage - Boston.

In the last five weeks, New York's got to travel ~8500 miles on seven flights, Boston's got to travel ~3500 on five. Boston has two extended homestands (nine and 10 games, respectively) where they don't have any travel at all. New York's two home stands are (obviously) shorter (six and seven). Unless you believe that six at home vs. Texas and Oakland is worse than six on the road against LAA and Seattle, there's no aspect of the schedule that doesn't favor the Red Sox right now.

Not that this means that the Red Sox are going to win the East. Given the remaining schedules, and the fact that they've already got a lead, the Red Sox have got to be favored, but it's not a foregone conclusion. It would make for a very interesting September, I suspect, if it mattered. Were it not for the Wild Card, we might be looking at a re-play of 1978, the two best teams in the league battling down the stretch for the division. As it is, the battle's not particularly interesting, because the real question is whether or not they're both going to win in the first round and play in the ALCS...




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