Why the Boston Red Sox Might Be the "Odd Team Out" in the AL East

Tom AuSenior Analyst IIApril 19, 2010

BOSTON - APRIL 17:  Kevin Youkilis #20 of the Boston Red Sox hits a home run against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on April 17, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

This New Yorker is by no means a Boston Red Sox fan. But if I were, I'd now be thinking in terms of "wait till next year," Yogi Berra fashion.

Many might say, 'but it's just early in the season, there are almost 150 games to go.' But that's just the point: The Red Sox are already five games behind both the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays.

Which is like giving "rook odds" in chess to such talented players.

The other reason is because of how the Red Sox have done head-to-head against those teams already. They lost two out of three to the Yankees in Fenway Park, at home .

Not counting today's (day) game, they've already lost at least three out of four to the Rays, again at home. This doesn't augur well for the season series against either team, because a majority of the remaining games will take place on the road.

Going into today's game, the Red Sox have outhit their opponents .281 to .274. They've outscored their opponents 35 to 34. That should suggest a .500 record, not a good start for them, but a better platform from which to build than they actually have.

But they've actually won only four games out of 12, and half of those victories have taken place against the Kansas City Royals. That's because their pitching, normally a strong suit, has been below average. Meaning that they can't win the majority of "big games."

It's not like the Red Sox are behind because they lost tough series to say, the Minnesota Twins and the Oakland As in other divisions, while the Yankees and Rays feasted on the likes of the Royals and the Orioles (OK, the Rays did take three from Baltimore on the road, en route to Boston.)

Then, a person might reasonably say, 'let's see how the Red Sox do head to head against the Yankees and the Rays before passing judgment.' Because wins in such games are automatically a loss for the division leaders. Put another way, those games basically count double.

But we have seen how Boston does, (or didn't do), against those two teams. Meaning that Boston has already lost a large number of the games it needs to win.

Last year, Boston didn't do so well (only 41-36) against teams outside their division. But they won the wildcard because of their 45-25 record in the American League East.

This year, they've started off so poorly against division rivals (other than the Toronto Blue Jays and the Orioles) that they would need to do a lot better than the Yankees and Rays outside the division to be in the running.

Later in the season, the Yankees and Rays will race each other for the division title, with the wildcard possibly being a consolation to the loser. But the Red Sox probably won't be in that race.

Under ordinary circumstances, I wouldn't be calling a race this early. The reason I'm doing so now is because of the early results in the "double"-valued games.