Thursday, June 28, 2012

Are the Sox going to catch the Orioles?

In response to the contention, made elsewhere, that someone was "waiting for the Orioles to fall back to Earth" and that it "doesn't seem to be happening."

Sure it does. And it will continue. The Red Sox will finish 5-10 games ahead of the Orioles. Boston's a much better team. And they've made up 6 games on the Orioles in the last 6 weeks. On May 10, Boston was 12-19, 7 1/2 games behind the 20-12 Orioles. Since then, Baltimore is 21-21 (and have been outscored by 25!) while Boston is 28-16 (and have outscored its opposition by 67). Over that stretch, and despite the record numbers of outfielders on the DL, despite the lackluster (at best) performances of the expected superstars1, only the Yankees and Angels have better records than Boston, and no AL team has a better run differential or pythagorean record.

Baltimore is a mediocre team, settling after a hot start. They'll finish the season within 4-6 games of .500. Boston will win 90+. Boston is better than Toronto and Baltimore. Boston is better than Seattle and Oakland. Boston is better than anyone in the Central. The Red Sox need to finish ahead of one of Tampa and LA to make the post-season, and they are already tied with Tampa (on whom they've made up 7 1/5 games over the same stretch.) Barring a 2011-style meltdown (which is obviously a possibility), Boston will be one of the five (and what a bad idea that was, MLB) playoff teams from the AL this year.

1 - Think about this for a moment - on opening day, the offensive stars of the 2012 Boston Red Sox were Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz. Over this seven week stretch, they've made up six games on the Orioles, 7 1/2 on the Rays, and played almost the best baseball in the AL, while those five players hit .255/.330/.444/.774, which, while mediocre, actually looks as if it were better than it was, because David Ortiz was a monster (.272/.390/.626/1.016). What really happened is that Ellsbury didn't play at all and the other three combined to hit only .249/.305/.377/.682, while starting, on average, 34 of the 44 games. And they still went 28-16.

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