By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — There’s this odd thought that tends to permeate the baseball world, and it pushes a belief that games late in the season are more important than games at the beginning of the season. Sure, it helps for a team to know where it stands and what’s at stake when they take the field, and games in September in the midst of a pennant race do take on a different feel than those in early April. Or March.

But the fact remains that the bean counters who monitor the league standings count those victories in April equally with the wins in September. One win is one win, and each contributes to a team’s ultimate playoff position.

And in the effort to pick up some of those early-season victories, the Boston Red Sox and rookie manager Alex Cora could not have asked for a better road.

The schedule makers can’t and don’t account for quality of opponent when drawing up a team’s schedule, but in the case of the Red Sox, they basically rolled out a red carpet to start the 2018 season.

Here’s a look at the Red Sox’ opponents for the month of April. The number of games in each series is in parentheses.

@ Tampa Bay Rays (4)
@ Miami Marlins (2)
Tampa Bay Rays (3)
New York Yankees (3)
Baltimore Orioles (4)
@ Los Angeles Angels (3)
@ Oakland A’s (3)
@ Toronto Blue Jays (3)
Tampa Bay Rays (3)
Kansas City Royals (3)

Now, power rankings are just opinions. They’re not indicative of absolute truths. Often, power rankings in April look nothing like power rankings in July. But for now, power rankings are what we have. And here’s a look at where those teams stand on some power rankings from around the ol’ internet. (Their 2017 records, along with where that ranked them last year, are also listed.)

BOSTON (93-69, T-5th)
CBS Local: 7th
The Ringer: 7th
CBS Sports: 4th 7th
Bleacher Report: 7th
ESPN: 7th
Boston Herald: 7th
USA Today: 7th

Red Sox Average Ranking: 7th

TAMPA BAY (80-82, T-13th)
CBS Local: 17th
The Ringer: 20th
CBS Sports: 23rd (Worse than 20th, as didn’t list 21-30)
Bleacher Report: 21st
ESPN: 22nd
Boston Herald: 20th
USA Today: 19th

Rays Average Ranking: 20th

MIAMI (77-85, 18th)
CBS Local: 30th
The Ringer: 30th
CBS Sports: 30th (Worse than 20th, probably 30th)
Bleacher Report: 30th
ESPN: 30th
Boston Herald: 30th
USA Today: 30th

Marlins Average Ranking: 30th

NEW YORK YANKEES (91-71, 8th)
CBS Local: 3rd
The Ringer: 2nd
CBS Sports: 3rd 3rd
Bleacher Report: 5th
ESPN: 3rd
Boston Herald: 4th
USA Today: 5th

Yankees Average Ranking: 4th

BALTIMORE (75-87, T-20th)
CBS Local: 21st
The Ringer: 24th
CBS Sports: 20th (Worse than 20th)
Bleacher Report: 18th
ESPN: 20th
Boston Herald: 16th
USA Today: 22nd

Orioles Average Ranking: 20th

LOS ANGELES ANGELS (80-82, T-13th)
CBS Local: 13th
The Ringer: 11th
CBS Sports: 9th 11th
Bleacher Report: 10th
ESPN: 9th
Boston Herald: 12th
USA Today: T-10th

Angels Average Ranking: 11th

OAKLAND (75-87, T-20th)
CBS Local: 18th
The Ringer: 22nd
CBS Sports: 19th 20th
Bleacher Report: 20th
ESPN: 23rd
Boston Herald: 21st
USA Today: 26th

Athletics Average Ranking: 21st

TORONTO (76-86, 19th)
CBS Local: 19th
The Ringer: 18th
CBS Sports: 11th 9th
Bleacher Report: 15th
ESPN: 19th
Boston Herald: 14th
USA Today: 16th

Blue Jays Average Ranking: 15th

KANSAS CITY (80-82, T-13th)
CBS Local: 16th
The Ringer: 28th
CBS Sports: 27th (Worse than 20th)
Bleacher Report: 27th
ESPN: 25th
Boston Herald: 26th
USA Today: 27th

Royals Average Ranking: 25th

Some quick thoughts to unpack: Did all the power rankers get together and decide the Red Sox are firmly the seventh-best team in baseball? Should the Marlins even show up this season? What do the CBS Local people know about the Royals that nobody else does?

Anyway, the sum result of that exercise is that in the Red Sox’ first 31 games, they will play 10 games against the 20th-best team in baseball. They’ll get a pair of games against the very worst team in baseball, three games against the sixth-worst team in MLB, and seven more games against two teams that rank in the bottom third of the league. That’s (counting fingers … ) 22 games against very bad competition right out of the chute.

This all comes with the usual caveats. Nothing is ever guaranteed. You can’t predict baseball. Bad teams beat good teams every day. Yada yada yada. You know all that. But the bottom line is this: It’s a pretty soft landing for the Red Sox in April.

If the Red Sox can handle their business against the bad teams — call it a .700 winning percentage, which is aggressive but doable — and play .500 against the Yankees and Angels, they can emerge from their first 31 games with something like a 20-11 record. There will be a long way to go after that, but for a team that could really use a fast start, the road has been paved.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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