Here's what the Red Sox must do to break the all-time wins record for a single season
Can the 2018 Red Sox go from great to historic?
Even after their Thursday loss to the Blue Jays, the Red Sox are winning at a .698 clip in 2018. That puts them on pace for 113 wins, which would be the fourth-most ever. The record, of course, is shared by the 2001 Mariners and the 1906 Cubs, who each won 116 games (although the '06 Cubs did it in just 152 games).
Such proximity to historic greatness raises the matter of whether the 2018 Red Sox can match or even break the all-time record for wins in a season.
As noted above, they're presently in line to come up three wins shy of the record, which means they'd need to improve upon their already blistering pace. Counting their four-game road set against the Orioles that starts Friday, the Red Sox have 46 games remaining. They'd need to go 35-11 over those remaining games in order to get to 116 wins and, of course, 36-10 to get to 117. That means they'd need to win at a sky-scraping .783 clip over the remainder of the regular season in order to tie the record.
Obviously, that's a big ask. The Red Sox have not gone 36-10 or better at any point this season. However, it's worth noting that the Red Sox have presently won 30 of their last 38 games, and that comes to a winning percentage of .789. So they're self-evidently capable of playing .780-.790 baseball over an extended stretch -- albeit not (yet) a 46-game stretch.
A major factor will obviously be Boston's remaining schedule. Here's how that breaks down ...
- @BAL (four games)
- @PHI (2)
- TB (3)
- CLE (4)
- @TB (3)
- MIA (2)
- @CHW (4)
- @ATL (3)
- HOU (3)
- TOR (3)
- NYM (3)
- @NYY (3)
- @CLE (3)
- BAL (3)
- NYY (3)
Of their remaining 46 games, 24 -- a narrow majority -- are at home. Twenty-seven come against teams that currently have a winning record (although this includes six games against the Rays, who are only one game above .500 at this writing). Overall, Boston's remaining opponents current have an average winning percentage of .487. To put that in perspective, the Giants presently check in with a 2018 winning percentage of .491. To date, the Red Sox's opponents have an average winning percentage of .497, so in theory things get ever so slightly easier moving forward.
As for the SportsLine Projection Model, it currently forecasts the Red Sox for 111 wins, rounded off. In part that's probably because the Red Sox have outplayed their run differential to a modest extent (based on runs scored and runs allowed, the Red Sox have played more like a 77-39 team rather than the 81-35 squadron that they are in reality), and in part it's because maintaining that current .698 winning percentage is really, really hard.
The obvious should be noted: The Red Sox's goal is to win the World Series, not to win 116 or more games in the regular season. They currently lead the AL East by eight games over the Yankees and lead the Astros by that same margin in the race for top overall playoff seed. As such, manager Alex Cora may be resting his frontline charges quite a bit as the regular season draws to a close. That, in turn, may make it less likely that the Red Sox win at the level needed to catch up to the 2001 Mariners and the 1906 Cubs.
A more reasonable goal might be catching the 1998 Yankees, who won a franchise-best 114 games. Either way, Sox fans -- while they likely won't have the drama of a tight division race to occupy them down the stretch -- will have something to invest in as the 2018 regular season plays out.
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