Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The one in which Boston wins 122 games
By Matt Meyers, ESPN The Magazine
For the ESPN The Magazine baseball preview, we used Baseball Think Factory's ZiPS projections to simulate the season 100 times using Diamond Mind Baseball. In addition to producing standings for each season, the software also spits out the stats. Over the next couple of days we'll go inside some of the more eye-opening results.
If you take a look at the AL East standings in the Mag preview, you'll see that in one simulation the Red Sox won 122 games. It was the most wins by any team in any of our simulations. So we asked ourselves, what does a 122-win season for the Red Sox look like? Let's check it out.
The key to the Red Sox that "season" was their outstanding pitching, and we can only assume that the defensive improvements they made this offseason played a major role in the team's run prevention. For starters, Josh Beckett went 27-2 with a 2.76 ERA, 199 strikeouts and 45 walks. Maybe he should reconsider renegotiating that contract before the season starts.
Beckett wasn't the only Boston pitcher who went bananas. Check out the rest of the rotation.
So yeah, if the Red Sox get this kind of performance from their rotation, I'd say there is a shot they win 122 games. It also helps that their offense was quite prolific as well this "season." J.D. Drew had a .928 OPS with 31 homers, while Kevin Youkilis had 32 jacks of his own. Jacoby Ellsbury even stole 73 bags. Are any of these performances possible? Sure. Are they likely to happen in the same season? Umm, no. And that's why this confluence of events occurred just once in 100 simulations. And truth be told, the odds of a 122-win season in Boston are probably slimmer than that. But if every one of the Red Sox's key players has a season at the high end of expectations, it's possible. (Don't worry, Yankees fans, you guys had one 108-win season in which CC Sabathia went 23-4 with a 2.70 ERA. That scenario is probably a little more likely.)
Tomorrow we'll look at a world in which the Pirates win the NL Central. And no, it does not involve a time machine.
Matt Meyers is an associate editor for ESPN The Magazine.