Analytics show that there is no team in Major League Baseball better than the Red Sox. By analytics, of course, we mean wins and losses.
With their 11-6 win over the Orioles Saturday night, the Sox keep the best record in all of MLB, sitting at 21-3, 1/2-game better than the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's.
“Amazing, man. Absolutely amazing," said Garrett Richards, who claimed the win Saturday night. "I mean, these guys, this team in general, you guys have seen it for a month and a half now, it’s a really good team, man. We’re not weak in very many areas and I think it’s still early. I don’t even think we’ve peaked yet. It’s encouraging, man. We just show up every day with the mindset that we’re going to win today. We’re worried about the game today and we’re worried about tomorrow, tomorrow. It’s really fun to watch. It’s really cool to be a part of on a daily basis just the way everybody’s going about their business and knowing where we stand in this league, we have a very, very, very good baseball team and we’re trying to make it all the way to the end.”
So, there you have it. Best team in baseball. Or are they?
Put it this way, a case can be made. And heading into the 2021 season, with the likes of the Dodgers, Padres, Cardinals, Mets, White Sox, Yankees and Blue Jays seemingly getting fat in the offseason, such a notion wouldn't seem plausible by the time he hit Mother's Day.
But here we are, watching a Red Sox team that is just not flawed enough to be in a conversation few saw coming.
How is this happening. Well ...
- The Red Sox carry the kind of middle-of-the-order foundation even Chaim Bloom and Co. probably didn't see coming. They are one of two teams with three regulars (J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers) owning OPS over .900, with No. 2 hitter, Alex Verdugo not far behind what a .311 batting average and .856 OPS. That has been, undoubtedly, the biggest separator when it comes to this first-place team.
- The starting rotation has been good enough from top to bottom. That might not sound sexy, but understand the importance of feeling as though you actually have a chance each time one of your five starters pitch. The Red Sox' starters have more wins (15) than any team in baseball, eight more than the shock-and-awe group put together by the Padres.
- They have one of the game's best closers in Matt Barnes. And while getting to him might sometimes seem dicey, at least there are the kind of pieces -- particularly when it comes to multi-inning options (Garrett Whitlock, Matt Andriese) -- that are simply a must when looking to function at a high level.
- It is a team that fights back. This seems like a small thing, but it is also an element that can define success or failure.
- And, perhaps most importantly, there simply aren't any teams in big league baseball that are going to blow your socks off. The Dodgers were supposed to be the fail-safe when it comes to that line of thinking, but they have been trudging to an 18-16 record while fending off injuries. Everyone else? They all have their own unique problems.
There will be some of these teams that start to separate themselves, figuring things out while keeping a keen eye on the trade deadline. But who is to say one of those clubs isn't this current best team in baseball?
The Red Sox, for instance, have the best team batting average in baseball while scoring the most runs of any team. Yet, by the time they left Camden Yards after their latest win it was a club that owned five players who were hitting .239 or worse while playing the majority of the time.
That would seem to be something that might get a bit better. As, most likely, will other corners of concern on this roster.
It is undoubtedly much more of a work-in-progress-type team than the one Alex Cora guided in 2018. (And, believe or not, that club was actually in second-place behind the Yankees on May 9 that season.)
But make not mistake about it: It sure is easier to fix any of those leaks while you're riding this kind of wave.