Mazz: The Red Sox’ prospects for 2023 just got better
August 25th, 2022
Let’s start with the obvious truth that baseball doesn’t really have that many truly good teams. The sport always has been a collection of haves and have-nots, and the Red Sox always have been part of the former.
That said, their chances for 2023 have already improved and the Red Sox haven’t done a darned thing in the process.
Here’s why: Major League Baseball will be going to a more balanced schedule next season, which means fewer games inside the division. Does that guarantee anything for the Red Sox? Hardly. But it’s at least a small, fortunate development that might give the Sox more wiggle room to get back to real competitiveness.
Consider the math:
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – AUGUST 23: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees celebrates his fourth inning home run against the New York Mets with teammate Anthony Rizzo #48 at Yankee Stadium on August 23, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Yes, it’s only one season, but that’s the Red Sox’ record inside the division this year. The Sox don’t have a winning record against any AL East opponent, going 6-7 against New York, 5-7 vs. Baltimore, 2-8 against Tampa Bay and 3-12 against Toronto. Obviously, rosters change from year to year. But the Blue Jays have some of the best young talent in baseball, the Rays have built a time-tested model and the Orioles have turned a corner with one of the highest-rated minor league systems in the game. The Yankees, meanwhile, haven’t had a losing season since 1992. In the long term, there’s no telling what the AL East will be. But in the short term, this should give Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox more time to rebuild their operation and play more games against mediocre and downright bad competition.
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – AUGUST 24: George Springer #4 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates after a RBI double during the tenth inning at Fenway Park on August 24, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Blue Jays defeat the Red Sox 3-2. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
The Red Sox’ record this year outside the division, a winning percentage that would translate into 96 wins over a full season. As a result of the scheduling changes that will go into effect next season, the Sox will now play 24 more games against teams beyond the high-powered American League East. The number of divisional games will drop from 76 to 52, which means that Sox will play the Yankees, Jays, Rays and O’s 13 times each instead of 19 times each. That’s a big benefit. The bad news? New York, Toronto, Baltimore and Tampa will have the same advantage.
BOSTON, MA – JULY 5: Wander Franco #5 of the Tampa Bay Rays scores a run in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 5, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
Where the AL East collectively stands this year relative to .500. That’s right, if you add up the records of all five teams in the division, the AL East teams are an aggregate 54 games over .500, easily the highest margin in baseball. Every other division in the game has at least two clubs that are 10 or more games below .500; the AL East has zero. Nobody should cry for the Sox this year because the division was a known issue entering the season, but you get the idea. More creampuffs on the schedule should keep the Red Sox in the hunt longer in 2023, though it hardly guarantees anything if the Sox don’t improve their roster and overall play.