Friday, April 2, 2010

Will the Red Sox jump ahead of the Yankees in April again?


Fearless prediction: The Red Sox will play better in April than they will the rest of the year, and the Yankees will play worse.  It's pretty much the natural order of things:

                                       Red Sox                                  Yankees
2001                    16-9 (.640); 82-79 (.509)        14-12 (.538); 95-65 (.594)
2002                    16-7 (.696); 93-69 (.574)        17-10 (.630); 103-58 (.640)    
2003                    18-8 (.692); 95-67 (.586)        20-6 (.769); 101-61 (.623)
2004:                   15-6 (.714); 98-64 (.605)        12-10 (.545); 101-61 (.623)
2005:                   12-11(.522); 95-67 (.586)       14-15 (.483); 95-67 (.586)
2006:                   14-11 (.560); 86-75 (.531)      9-14 (.391); 97-65 (.599)
2007:                   16-8 (.667); 96-66 (.593)        13-10 (.565); 94-68 (.580)
2008:                   16-11 (.593); 95-67 (.586)      10-14 (.417); 89-73 (.549)
2009:                   14-8 (.636); 95-67 (.586)        11-10 (.524); 103-59 (.636)

I could probably go further back, but you get the point.  Even if everyone knows what will probably happen after a slow Yankees start, there will be inevitable panic if they're hovering around .500 (or below) at the beginning of May. 

If the Yankees were to sweep the Red Sox in the first series of the year, it would almost represent a cosmic imbalance in the baseball universe.  The most likely result is that the Red Sox will win some games, Rivera will blow a save or two and the Sox will build up a surprising lead over the first few weeks, but it won't last (the only Division Title they've won since 1995 was in 2007, when they built up an 11.5 game lead by the end of May, but ended up barely hanging on).

There's no reason to think this year will be any different.  Last year, the Red Sox jumped out to a good start despite having traded Manny Ramirez the year before, and with David Ortiz having an impossibly slow start. 

The drama of the Yankees getting a slow start is a staple of the baseball season, it would be unfortunate to lose it (watch out for Granderson to struggle, Phil Hughes to adjust poorly to being put back in the rotation, and Chan Ho Park to revert back to 2002-2007 form).  Maybe their talent and momentum from the World Series is so great that they'll start strong, but I wouldn't count on it.     

Update: April 4th: Red Sox battled back from a 5-1 deficit to win 9-7.  C.C. Sabathia pitched poorly, as did Chan Ho Park, taking the loss. 

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