Baseball All-Star Break

July 15, 2018

In part, I was attracted to a lifetime career as a currency market watcher and analyst because of an earlier passion for major league baseball. Both fields yield reams of data that evolve on a daily basis. Following day to day changes in the rankings of the European Monetary System felt similar to monitoring day to day changes in the standings of baseball teams in pursuit of an eventual ticket to post-season play. Perennial victory in both cases is limited. Old champions fade, and new ones emerge. It’s all a matter of time. And it takes times to discern mere success from extraordinary success.

A regular baseball season covers half a calendar year and involves 162 games. No other major U.S. sport comes close to that number. The traditional middle of the baseball season, although not its mathematical midpoint, happens at the all-star break in July, which has now arrived. The first half of the 2018 season has seen one team post an incredibly successful record — the Boston Red Sox.

How good? The Red Sox won three American League pennants between 2004 and 2013 and went on to defeat the National League pennant-winner in the October World Series (a best 4 of 7 contest) in each of those instances. This year’s version of the Red Sox has recorded a much better win-loss record than any of those earlier teams through this point of the season. The Sox at the all-star break has 68 wins against just 30 losses. The 2004 Red Sox lost 52 games before winning its 68th. The 2007 and 2013 Sox, by further comparison, had 42 and 45 losses before winning 68 games.

Only the very best teams win over 100 games in a regular season. Many teams have won world series from a regular season victory total well short of the that yardstick — for instance the 1992 Yankees (92) and the 2000 Yankees (87). Only an historic collapse in the rest of this season will deprive the Red Sox of at least 100 wins, and it’s possible that the total could be well above 100. Four previous teams that cleared 100 by a sizable margin were the 1954 Indians (111), the 1961 Yankees (109), the 1998 Yankees (114), and the 2001 Mariners (116). The 1954 and 1961 Yankees were even more impressive than those totals imply because they played in an era when the regular season had just 154 games.

If the Red Sox are as successful in the rest of the season as they’ve been so far, they will join those four powerhouses. The 30 losses prior to a 68th win is less than the 1961 Yankees, who had lost 37 games at such a point, and it is the same number as the loss total of the 1954 Indians when that team earned its 68th win. Both the 1998 Yankees, which had only 23 losses prior to a  68th win, and 2001 Mariners with 26 losses at that point, were even more impressive than this year’s Red Sox but only slightly so.

The Red Sox went into the all-star game break with six more wins than any of the other 29 teams in the major leagues. Only two others have as many as 60 wins, the Houston Astros with 64 and New York Yankees with 62. The most wins by any National League teams are 55 by the Chicago Cubs. And yet, there is no guarantee that the Sox will win the World Series. The 1954 Indians were defeated by a margin of 4-0, and the 2001 Mariners failed to negotiate the American League playoffs successfully and didn’t even play in that year’s World Series.

With global politics providing no encouraging news, at least baseball is offering some worthy entertainment.  More to follow…

Copyright 2018, Larry Greenberg. All rights reserved. No secondary distribution without express permission. 



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