These Red Sox Stats Indicate Early-Season Improvement Is Legit

The Red Sox are fighting back after a brutal 2022 season


May 4, 2023

The Red Sox beat the Blue Jays on Wednesday night to improve to 18-14. That is a fine record, for sure, though there are still eight teams in baseball with a higher win percentage, and there are 19 teams with shorter World Series odds at FanDuel Sportsbook right now.

However, coming off a lost 2022 campaign, the Red Sox needed to show improvement early in the 2023 season. A sweep at the hands of the then-undefeated Rays dropped the Red Sox to 5-8 on April 13, but Boston bounced back to win 13 of their next 19, including an 8-3 win over the Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

That win over the Blue Jays was Boston’s third of the season over its divisional rival. That might not seem like much, but viewed through the lens of 2022, it signifies massive improvement. The 2022 Sox went 3-16 against Toronto, so Boston has already equaled the number of wins against their north-of-the-border foes. The three-game winning streak against the Blue Jays — which could move to four if the Sox sweep the series Thursday night — comes on the heels of nine straight losses to Toronto.

It’s not just being able to solve the Blue Jays that inspires reason for optimism and expectations of improvement in 2023. There has been some progress, albeit slight, within the division. The Toronto series win was their second divisional win of the season. That already is more divisional series wins than 2022 when the Sox went 1-11-1 in divisional series against AL East opponents, with their only series win coming in mid-August. Granted, they haven’t played the Yankees yet and the only other series win came in the first week of the season, but it’s progress at least. On top of that, the new balanced schedule means fewer games against the division, which was welcomed news regardless for a team that went 26-50 against the East a year ago.

By winning Wednesday, the Red Sox clinched their seventh series win of the season already. Alex Cora’s club is now 7-3 in its first 10 series of the season. Through the same number of sets last season, they were just 1-7-2, and the club didn’t win its seventh series of the season until June 8. In that regard, they’re a month ahead of last year’s pace.

A big reason for the improvement has been one of the most relentless offenses in baseball paired with a much-improved bullpen. The Red Sox have come from behind in 13 of their 19 wins, which is the most in Major League Baseball, and they now have seven wins when trailing by multiple runs. The offense has been relentless, scoring more runs through their first 31 games than any Red Sox team since 2009, and the bullpen largely has kept them in those comeback attempts. A commitment to strike-throwers appears to be paying dividends in the ‘pen. Last year at this point, Red Sox relievers ranked 22nd in walks per nine innings. This year, they rank third.

No matter how you slice it, the Red Sox are better in 2023 than they were in 2022. It’s still far too early to know whether that’s sustainable for an entire season, and question marks about a volatile starting rotation certainly make it hard to fully buy in, at least at this point. However, nine of the last 10 Red Sox teams to start the season this well reached the playoffs. Early-season success paired with the expanded postseason field are making October baseball a real possibility in Boston this year.

The Red Sox try to sweep the Blue Jays on Thursday at Fenway Park. NESN’s pregame coverage begins at 5 p.m. ET.

Thumbnail photo via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images
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