We all know that the baseball season is a marathon and not a sprint, but we’re all inevitably going to take some things in April too seriously. Whether it’s good or bad, we have a tendency to treat the one-month sample of the early season differently than any other simply because we don’t have another month on which to look back for context. Still, while the first month of the year may not be quite as important as we have a tendency to make it out to be, it doesn’t mean it’s not important at all. There’s something to be said for getting off to a good start and not digging yourself in an early hole, especially for a team trying to compete in a top-heavy American League with a first-year manager. As they always say (I don’t know who “they” are, but I do know they always say it), you can’t win a division in April but you can lose it. So, with that in mind, let’s look what’s on the docket for Boston in the first month-plus of the season.
The Red Sox don’t have to start the year in the Northeast in late-March and very-early-April, which is nice. They’ll start with a six games in Florida before traveling up to Boston for their home opener on April 5. They’ll stay at Fenway for a ten-game road trip before heading out west for a six-game trip along the coast in the Pacific Time Zone. They’ll travel back east for three more road games before finishing the month with four games at home. Overall, they have 29 games in March/April with 15 of them coming on the road and 14 at Fenway. They’ll have three off days in the month.
In terms of competition, the Red Sox will unsurprisingly be facing a lot of divisional opponents in the first month of the year. This is always the case, and in fact the Red Sox will see all of their division opponents in April. For three of them — the Yankees, Blue Jays and Orioles — they will play one series. Get used to seeing the new-look, Evan Longoria-less Rays, though, as the Red Sox will play Tampa Bay a whopping ten times before the first of May. In addition to the divisional opponents, the Red Sox will also be playing the Marlins, Angels (Ohtani!) and A’s for full series and they have one game against the Royals on the last day of the month. (The rest of the series is, of course, played in May.)
The difficulty of the slate ahead this month largely depends on which projection system you like, or at least how you feel about the respective teams. According to Fangraphs’ projected standings, the Red Sox play 20 of their 29 games against teams projected to finish below .500. (Rays, Marlins, Orioles, A’s, Royals). According to Baseball Prospectus, though, just 13 of the 29 games are against teams projected to finish below .500. The difference is that BP sees Tampa Bay as an above-.500 team while Fangraphs does not. BP also projects the Angels to finish below .500, contrary to Fangraphs. In both of these cases, I lean towards the Fangraphs projection.
So, what kind of start do you think the Red Sox are going to get off to? I’m saying 18-11.