Stats help put it in perspective. Excluding the blip of the 2013 season, the Red Sox have averaged over the past seven seasons just under 15 wins for their first 30 games. They’ve played .493 ball in the early going during that time. Sure enough, in the Championship years of 2004, 2007, and 2013 Boston got off to winning records, besting opponents with 19, 20, and 20 wins, respectively.
After a tough 2014 season, and despite a thrilling win on Opening Day, the first 30 games of 2015 ended with just 13 wins, the fewest since 12 in 2012. It was the 45th time since 1914 that the Sox started the first 30 games of a season with a sub .500 record.
As your correspondent reminded you at the start of last season, just nine teams have won the World Series since 1914 when opening the season with a sub .500 win percentage over the first 30 games.
Since 1914, the Sox most wins over the opening 30 is 24 (.800) in 1946. The nadir was just five (.167) in 1932.
Much is being said and written about the importance of a “win now” approach as the Red Sox enter the 2016 regular season. Manager John Farrell, his job likely on the line, surely feels the importance of getting off to a good start.
Sox offense in Month One of 2015 didn’t foretell the disastrous season to come, save for one anomaly unseen by Red Sox Nation for some time: the absolute paucity of doubles.
The Sox had 22 doubles April of 2015, the fewest since the 1981 club collected 21 in the first month of a season. Contrast that with Boston’s 58 doubles in the first month of the 2013 season, the most doubles by an eventual World Series winner in the first month of a season since 2000.
Despite the doubles drop-off, Boston scored 113 runs that first month of 2015. Only Toronto (122) and Kansas City (119) scored more across baseball.
Starting with the silly t-shirts in spring training camp, the “no ace” Sox pitching strategy, if one can call it that, had trouble written all over it right from the start.
With 12 wins and 10 losses came a bloated 5.04 first month team ERA that rivaled that of another best forgotten season, the Valentine’s massacre of 2012. That year, Boston opened with a 5.54 ERA in April. It turns out that 2015 was just the 11th season since at least 1913 that Boston’s team ERA was 5.00+ in the first month.
The Red Sox never seemed in balance in 2015. Having scored the third most runs in baseball in April is only valuable if you don’t give up so many at the same time. But instead, Red Sox pitchers allowed 119 runs that first month, the most in baseball and more than twice as many as the Cardinals (55).
From third best to the cellar, Boston offense all but disappeared in May. Just 82 runs scored was the fewest by any MLB club that month. Still, offensive production rallied and stayed in the top third of all major league clubs for every remaining month but July.
The damage, of course, was done. By August 1st, in last place at 47-58, even another strong month of offense couldn’t overcome the Sox pitchers’ seeming inability to protect a lead. Time and again, Boston needed to come from behind for a win. In 40 of the club’s 162 games, Boston left the first inning behind in the score.
Time for Predictions
Spring Training isn’t a real indicator of regular season performance. That said, the Sox look solid offensively again this year. There’s no reason to believe Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts won’t have great seasons. Dustin Pedroia says (again) he is healthy. David Ortiz will experience the joys (and perhaps pressures) of his final season. One would expect Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval have something to prove. Travis Shaw has had a monster spring, for whatever that’s worth.
The arrival of David Price, a legitimate ace with a 2.45 ERA last season, at the head Boston’s rotation is unquestionably good news. The early injuries to Eduardo Rodriguez and reliever Carson Smith, on the other hand, are disappointments. Smith, a lights out reliever, is said to be down for at least the first month. Clay Buchholz is not an ace but more of the wild card in the deck. Rick Porcello, with his 12.00 ERA over 3 spring starts is, well, less than inspiring. Joe Kelly and Steven Wright, on the other hand, have made their cases to be in the rotation somewhere.
We’re just a few days to the start of the season. 181 days later, as we turn the calendar to October, the regular season will close with the Blue Jays at Fenway.
Now’s the time when predictions are worth something. Feel free to record and lock in yours in the comments section below. Just where will our Sox be in the standings after 30 games? Where will they be on October 2nd?