Tuesday, April 10, 2018

How Much Should Red Sox Fans Care About Fast Start?

(Amy: CC BY-ND 2.0)
Through the first few games of the Major League Baseball season, the Boston Red Sox have laid claim to being one of the hottest teams in the league. Winning eight of their first nine games, the Sox have proven that they have the potential to go on long winning streaks that can put some distance between themselves and their competition. But for a number of reasons, there are questions as to whether or not this winning run is as big a deal as many are making it out to be.

The first reason for skepticism is the fact that the Red Sox have played some of the worst teams in Major League Baseball during this stretch of games. In Boston's first seven games, for example, they played five against the Tampa Bay Rays and the other two against the Miami Marlins. While those teams do have Major League players on their rosters, they simply are not on the same level as the Red Sox from a talent perspective or in many other ways.

Both the Rays and Marlins have been fiscally conservative over the years, with their status as teams playing in sparsely populated markets for baseball. With the Rays, that is absolutely the case. The team plays in St. Petersburg rather than in Tampa Bay proper. This makes it more difficult for fans to get to games, as they have to travel well outside of the city to get there. This has helped cause a sharp decline in attendance for the Rays since their American League championship season in 2008.

As for Miami, they may be actively trying to lose games at this point in time. After selling the team to an ownership group led by former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, the Marlins have traded away their most valuable assets in an attempt to cut their payroll expenses. The result has been a team that does not look fit to be on a Major League Baseball field. So, while the Sox have racked up some wins early in the season, they have come at the expense of two of the teams that should finish at or near the bottom of the standings in their respective divisions when all is said and done in the 2018 season.
(Christopher Lynn: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

With that said, there have been a number of positives that the Red Sox and their faithful can look at that can translate to the rest of the season. One of those factors is the resurgence of Hanley Ramirez in the Red Sox lineup. Often used as a designated hitter to make room in the field for the younger, more adept defenders on the roster, Ramirez has been an enigmatic figure for the Sox during his time in Boston. Sometimes great and sometimes lacking in quality, Ramirez has had a nice start to the season that has included a walk-off hit at home against the Rays. If he can continue to play at a high level, it will be a huge boost for the Sox against the more difficult parts of their schedule.

Also working in the favor of the Red Sox has been the fact that they have not had to put too much pressure on their top starters in the early parts of the season. A lot of that has had to do with being risk averse with the cold weather but not using too many innings from their starters now will keep them fresher later in the season. With how much of a grind the Major League Baseball season is, any bit of rest is good. We will see if Boston's aces like Chris Sale and David Price can use it to their advantage in September and October.

Perhaps the biggest thing that Red Sox fans should take confidence from is the fact that the Sox are winning games even when they are not playing their best baseball. The difference between winning the American League East and having to settle for a Wild Card spot could come down to which team is able to grind out a couple of ugly wins this season when the team is not playing its best. So far, the advantage goes to the Sox in that category.

As you can see, there is a lot to consider when it comes to the start of the 2018 Red Sox season. There are a lot of positives to take from the campaign thus far, but also some reasons to take those positives with a grain of salt. For that reason, many will be lining up to use their Boston Red Sox free bet from Oddschecker, as there is an opportunity to get them in before the identity of the team is fully figured out and their odds are adjusted accordingly.

Boston has had to rely heavily on their pitching so far this season, as they wait for their bats to wake up before the season gets more difficult. But if the Sox continue to see the success from their staff that they have so far, they will be in great shape even against elite lineups like that of the Yankees. With those two teams looking likely to battle it out for the AL East crown, having a decided advantage on the mound would be huge for the Sox. But it is early in the season, and things can change quickly in baseball. For now, it is still too early to call this race.