Monday, June 18, 2007

Inevitable Swoon? Don't Believe The Hype

My friend Adam is great when it comes to putting together numbers regarding the Red Sox. When the Red Sox started losing ground to the Yankees last week and cut the Red Sox lead down to 7 1/2, you started hearing things about the "inevitable" Red Sox "swoon," crap about 1978, and how it always happens to them, especially in August and September.

This led Adam to do so some research about the Red Sox numbers each month since 1970. This past weekend, he sent me the numbers, and I thought they were rather illuminating, so I thought it was definitely deserving its own post.

Here are the Red Sox' winning percentages by month, with the first category being the overall percentage since 1970, and the second since 1995 (the last time the Sox won the AL East):

Month- Overall- 1995-2006
April--- .549---- .581
May---.551----- .568
June-- .534----.525
July--- .531---- .539
August-- .541---- .573
Sept/Oct.- .540-- .545

This model just shows you that the Red Sox have been pretty damn good over the last four decades overall. It shows that their toughest months have been June and July, not August and September. After April, August has been the Sox' best month since 1995, and the August numbers are even MORE impressive if you consider they went 9-21 last year (when they got hit with that incredible wave of injuries that nearly crippled the team). Their winning percentage would be .599 since 1995 if you removed last year's numbers.

And since 1995, the Red Sox have had only one really miserable September, and that was in 2001, when the Sox went 6-15 under the dubious leadership of Joe Kerrigan, when Pedro Martinez, Nomar Garciaparra and Jason Varitek were all lost to injuries. That season removed brings the Red Sox winning percentage since '95 to .563. Not bad at all.

And, as Adam points out, the Red Sox winning percentage in June/July 2004 was .490 (remember they played .500 ball a good part of the middle of that season), before going .696 in August/September 2004, on their way to a World Series championship.

The naysayers also seem to forget the Red Sox successes in the last few decades as far as the regular season goes: division titles in 1975, 1986, 1988, 1990, and 1995, as well as Wild Card wins in 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004 and 2005. In those seasons, they had to either hold off or pass teams late in order to make the playoffs. (Of course, they never get credit for that.) That's ten postseason appearances in just over 30 years, and only the Yankees and Braves can say that.

I guess people choose to believe what they want to believe. But the numbers of this recent generation don't bare out that a Red Sox "swoon" or "collapse" is inevitable. They've actually been one of the more successful regular season teams, especially in the dog days of August and coming down the stretch in September.


Dave said...

Great post! Especially since it's "common wisdom" that the Sox swoon in August. Also a nice reminder of just how much this team has accomplished in the past decade.

The Omnipotent Q said...

Thanks, Dave. Because of what happened in 1978, the Sox have worn that rap, and very unfairly. The numbers clearly show they play better the later the season goes on, especially over the last decade.

Just another reason to hate some sportswriters.

Michael Leggett said...

Dubious Joe Kerrigan:

Beer-Drinking Bud of Dan Duquette, both in Boston & Montreal;

I recall reports of Revolt, as well as injuries