Outside of the treason, almost nothing has surprised me more this year than FanGraphs’s projected win-loss records for the upcoming season. The Red Sox are ranked extremely high and I don’t know what to do:
Highest projected team W-L% for 2021 per FanGraphs— Max Goldstein (@MaxSportsStudio) January 7, 2021
1. San Diego Padres (.590)
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (.580)
3. New York Mets (.558)
4. Houston Astros (.545)
5. Boston Red Sox (.542)
6. New York Yankees (.541)
7. Atlanta Braves (.538)
8. Oakland Athletics (.530)
Let’s go through some stages of disbelief together, y’all.
Denial: This can’t be right
This one is easy. Obviously, there has to be some sort of mistake! Last year was a giant nothingburger and the Sox haven’t made that many moves since then. Sure, Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez are coming back, J.D. Martinez and Andrew Benintendi couldn’t be worse, and Jeter Downs and Triston Casas will be here sooner rather than later, but first place in the A.L. East, over the red-hot Rays, ascendant Blue Jays and bulky Yankees? I don’t think so. Or at least I didn’t before I saw that tweet. Now I’m just confused.
Anger: Quit playing games with my heart
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The Sox are supposed to struggle through this year as a further testament to the folly of trading Mookie Betts, and because the pitching staff is held together by rubber bands. This year is supposed to be an expectations-free romp through the back half of big-brained rebuilding, not some sort of World Series chase. For FanGraphs to do this math and overturn all that, well, that’s not something I’m gonna forget. I am smoldering.
Bargaining: It’s still pretty tenuous
First off, there’s no guarantee Sale stays healthy. I think every right-thinking Sox fan has The Fear of his imminent self-destruction, but I’m definitely projecting there. I’m sure afraid. I also hope E-Rod is fine, because he’s in legitimate unknown territory after his prolonged battle with COVID. The umbrella trend tucked into these projected standings might be that starting pitching doesn’t matter too much, because it’s difficult to otherwise parse them, but maybe the spreadsheets just believe in Boston’s top guys that much. You can’t reason with Excel. I’ve tried, and it never responds.
The other part of this depends on Martinez and Benintendi, should he still be around in April, turning their games around. I’m pretty confident J.D. will be better. I’m less sure I of Beni, though he’s gonna bounce back a little bit for certain due to positive regression and an acceptable sample size. He might do it somewhere else though, is the thing. Still: Nome of this is set in stone! A lot of games to play.
Sadness: No more complaints about The Trade
For almost a full year now I’ve made whining about the Betts deal the centerpiece of my identity on this site, and I thought for sure I had another year left to exploit it. Now I need to get back on the optimistic side of things, and that makes me upset. Happiness? In this economy? No thank you.
I do not want to admit that Chaim Bloom has done a great job in turning the team around, and I will never admit that he had to turn it around, but it appears the math has pretty well screwed me on this one. I have to look forward now, to good things, instead of complaining about bad things fixed in the past. I will miss them terribly.
Acceptance: I like wins wins are fun
Oh right! It’s much better to watch a good team than a bad one, because of the wins. Perhaps the experience of watching and rooting for the Sox is something... bigger than myself? Maybe we can have a neat, winning adventure... together? I don’t know what to say, because I wasn’t planning to get to say it until a year from now. I’m reeling, but it’s not a bad feeling. I like being caught up in something bigger than myself, especially now. Whatever our differences, whatever the fate of the nation, we can join together to do all this nonsense again, with bright eyes. It’s been a while. It cannot start soon enough,