With just a couple of days left in the season, we pretty have the full 2020 Red Sox experience in the bank. Gotta say, I hated it a lot! There are still a couple of games to be played, and to be fair they both will be started by pitchers who are at least mildly interesting in terms of the near-future of the franchise. But, for the most part, we’re just trying to get to the end of this road. And for today’s SB Nation Reacts, we’re looking at confidence polls regarding the direction of the organization.
Red Sox Confidence
The good news here, for the Red Sox at least, is that things are trending in the right direction. In this latest poll, 41 percent of respondents indicated confidence in where things are headed, and eight percentage point increase over the week before. The bad news is that is still a pretty low number! Things peaked right after the trade deadline, and even then it was just a clean 50 percent. So, the arrow is pointing in the right direction, but there’s still a long way to go to win over a significant number of fans.
And I think that is a good representation for where things stand with this team. While recent wins have been seen as a bad thing, and for good reason given the draft position, there are some positives here. Inherently, wins mean some players are doing good things. And a lot of the players doing good things are likely to either be part of the 2021 roster and potentially trade pieces to help the 2021 roster. The rotation specifically has come more into focus of late with Tanner Houck looking good in two starts and Nick Pivetta looking good in one, along with Martín Pérez putting together a formidable year and Nathan Eovaldi looking as good as ever.
All of that being said, I hope the Red Sox don’t read too much into those numbers. As the confidence poll suggests, there is still work to be done. Neither Pérez nor Eovaldi should be a top two pitcher in a contending rotation. Houck and Pivetta are probably better off as six and seventh options to start next season. In the lineup, Chrisitan Arroyo has been impressive, but it’s been a few weeks in a weird season. Handing him the second base spot would be aggressive. There is a lot to be happy about, but 41 percent confidence is a good number. Now it’s time to put in the necessary work to get that number about twice as large.
Keep the expanded playoffs?
I’m not surprised by how lopsided these results are, nor do I disagree. I hate this year’s playoff format, though I can live with it for this year because *gestures at the world.* Moving forward, though, it can’t be this. I’m not really concerned with fairness or anything like that, because I’m of the opinion that the postseason has never been some sort of optimally fair enterprise to determine the best team in any given season. It’s a rush of entertainment at the end of a year, and I am not against that. I love the postseason.
That said, there does need to be incentive to be as good as possible in the regular season. Baseball is an everyday grind for 162 games. Most fans aren’t going to sit down and watch every game — though some of us obviously do — but there should be a desire from the league to get as many people to at least be interested for six months. To do that, teams need to want to win as many games as they can. With this current format, there is hardly an advantage for top seeds. Home field is something, but not enough for most modern owners to want to spend what it requires to jump from an 83-win team to a 95-win team.
I love the ten-team format we’ve been using, but I assume that’s not coming back. At the very least, there needs to be a major incentive for division winners. I think a bye works best, but any advantage they can find is vital. It’s a basic tenet of professional sports that is being lost in baseball: Teams should try to be as good as possible. Every decision should be made with this in mind. Everything else is secondary.