BOSTON (CBS) — The baseball season is long, and there are still 144 games left on the schedule for the Boston Red Sox. A lot can happen over the next five months.
But holy smokes, these Red Sox are really, really, really great to start the 2018 season. Historically great.
Boston just wrapped up a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels, who were supposed to be a formidable foe to these red-hot Red Sox. Instead, Boston outscoring their counterparts 27-3 in the series, crushing 11 homers. Those 11 round-trippers were the third most in a three-game series in Red Sox history.
More importantly, the Red Sox are now a franchise-best 16-2 on the season, the first team to do that in over 30 years. And better than that record or all those dingers and all this Ws is the fact that the team isn’t letting their early season success go to their heads.
“Whatever the record is, and you read about it and think, ‘Wow, this is impressive,’ they aren’t getting caught up in it,” Red Sox skipper Alex Cora said after Thursday’s win. “They show up every day and play. We go to Oakland, and it’s the same goal: try to win the series.”
Here’s a look at some of the most interesting stats from Boston historic start to the season:
– The Red Sox are just the fifth team to start a season with 16 wins in their first 18 games since 1920 (the start of the Live-Ball Era).
The 1987 Milwaukee Brewers and 1981 Oakland Athletics both started their seasons 17-1, while the 1984 Detroit Tigers and 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers also got off to 16-2 starts. The ’84 Tigers and ’55 Dodgers both went on to win the World Series, so get the duck boats ready?
– The Red Sox have gone 16-1 since their Opening Day loss. The last team to go on such a tear over a 17-game stretch was the 2004 Red Sox, who won 16 of 17 from mid August to early September. And we all know how that season ended.
– Alex Cora is off to an incredible start in his first year as a big league manager. Per Elias, the only other rookie manager to tally 16 wins in his first 18 games was Joe Morgan with the 1988 Red Sox. Morgan did it as a mid-season replacement for John McNamara, while Cora is doing it to open a season.
– The Boston offense is the best in baseball, owning a plus-66 run differential through 18 games. The Toronto Blue Jays have the next-best run differential at plus-37.
According to Elias, Boston’s 66 run differential is the second-best for any team through 18 games in the Live Ball Era, trailing only the 1993 Tigers (plus-67).
The Red Sox also lead the Majors with a .292 batting average, a .362 slugging percentage, an .859 OPS and 116 runs scored. They’re currently on pace to score 1,044 runs, which would come up just 23 runs shy of the record set by the 1935 New York Yankees.
– After not hitting a single grand slam all of last season, the Red Sox already have four in 2018. They’re on pace to blast 36 salamis this season, which would shatter the MLB record of 14 set by the 2006 Cleveland Indians and 2000 Oakland Athletics.
– The Red Sox offense begins with Mookie Betts, who is hitting .391, slugging .797 and owns a 1.277 OPS — which lead all of baseball. He also leads MLB with 22 runs scored and is tied for the AL-lead with six homers.
– Having an offense that scores a lot of runs is great, but the Boston pitching has lived up to their end of the bargain too. Red Sox starters are 12-1 with a 1.98 ERA — the best of any rotation in the Majors. The bullpen, meanwhile, has allowed just one run in their last 20 innings pitched.
Again, there is a long, long, long, long way to go. But the Red Sox are living up to their preseason hype and then some to start the season. While their success will ultimately be measure by what they do in October, we shouldn’t overlook this historic start to the season.