Arthur: The Red Sox have come back from the brink

From SABR member Rob Arthur at Baseball Prospectus on June 6, 2019:

On April 23, the Red Sox looked cooked. Coming off a humbling loss to the lowly Tigers, Boston sported a record of 9-15 and a run differential of -43. For a team only a month’s worth of play removed from winning the World Series, it was a stunning reversal.

Since then, the Sox have won 22 games and lost 14 while outscoring their opponents by more than two full runs per game. If their -43 run differential for the first 24 games had continued for a full season, it would have rated as the fifth-worst of all time. If their +79 run differential since April 23 stood up for a full season, it would rate as the best season of all time. Massive fluctuations like this invite narratives to explain them, but at least in the Red Sox’s case, the true cause may be nothing more than chance.

The real Red Sox talent level is undoubtedly somewhere in between the extremes of their first 24 games and their last 36. PECOTA expects them to outscore their opponents by about 90 runs for the full season, consistent with the good-but-not-great squad preseason predictions suspected they would be.

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Originally published: June 6, 2019. Last Updated: June 6, 2019.