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It's Getting to be Historically Bad for the 2014 Red Sox

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With a 4-0 loss to the White Sox on Monday night, the Red Sox fell to 11 games below .500, which is as submerged as they've been all year, and is a low point it took them until Sept. 2 to reach during the disastrous season they spent under Bobby Valentine.

To place that juncture on the landscape of that particular campaign, consider that it came with a loss on the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, which was also eight days after Ben Cherington pushed the reset button by pulling the trigger on a memorable trade with the Dodgers. While Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and (lest we forget) Nick Punto were with the club, the Sox never had greater than seven more losses than wins. And, in fact, at this same point in that ill-fated exercise, Boston was only 1 1/2 games out of the second wild-card berth, with a record of 45-44.

Now, however, Boston is a brutal 39-50, so they've joined the 1997 outfit in becoming the only Red Sox teams since 1966 to lose 50 times before playing the 90th game of the season -- and they've also invited more historical comparisons as we attempt to contextualize exactly how bad it's become for a club barely eight months removed from a World Series championship.

Here are a half-dozen looks at where the 2014 team fits in to history, starting with a look at the four Sox teams to lose at least 50 of their first 89 games since the American League shifted to a 162-game schedule back in 1961:

SOX TEAMS WITH 50 LOSSES BEFORE PLAYING 90 GAMES

YEARSTARTRSRA+/-FINISH IN AL
196533-56364436-7262-100, 8th of 10
196637-52385435-5072-90, 9th of 10
199739-50483508-2578-84, 9th of 14
201439-50334384-50Currently 14th

The '65 and '66 teams were young clubs that preceded the Impossible Dream run of 1967, while 1997 was Jimy Williams' first year at the helm, so the early struggles suggest it may have taken the team some time to adjust to his unique style. Maybe an even bigger factor might've been that '97 was the bridge year between the Boston careers of Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez -- leaving Tim Wakefield as the ace-by-default.

WORST SOX RUN DIFFERENTIALS SINCE 1961

YEARSTARTRSRA+/-FINISH IN AL
196533-56364436-7262-100, 8th of 10
196142-46389448-5976-86, 6th of 10
196637-52385435-5072-90, 9th of 10
201439-50334384-50Currently 14th
199444-45436472-3654-61 (strike)

After being shut out for the ninth time, the 2014 Sox have a run differential of negative-50 on the year, which ties 1966 for Boston's third-worst scoring margin through 89 games during the expansion era. Those hoping or thinking these Sox might still have a run in them may want to note that the scoring margin proved telling of the team's talent, as each of the teams on this list played losing ball over the final 73 games, too.

YEARSTARTRSRA+/-FINISH
201439-50334384-50Currently 5th
201354-354583669243-30, 1st
201245-444453984724-49, 5th
201154-3547436510935-38, 3rd
201051-384693818844-29, 2nd
200952-374483707843-30, 2nd

Restricting the comparison to recent history helps reveal just how disappointing this team has been. Remember, the Red Sox hadn't won a playoff game since 2008 before last season, and hadn't even made the postseason since 2009. So none of these teams were exactly juggernauts -- yet every one had scored at least 111 more runs than the 2014 team has to this point. Furthermore, Valentine's group was the only team that had allowed more runs, and also the only team that wasn't at least 12 wins better by now.

BOSTON'S WORST 89-GAME STRETCH IN EACH OF THE LAST 10 YEARS

YEARSTRETCHDURATION
201350-395x between 4/18 and 8/9
201231-582x between 6/25 and 10/3
201146-434x between 6/28 and 9/28
201044-456/22 - 10/2
200948-414/30 - 8/9
200848-413x between 4/21 and 8/2
200748-415/30 - 9/5
200641-482x between 6/26 and 10/1
200549-406x between 4/8 and 7/29
200445-445/1 - 8/9

Other than the end of 2012, this current stretch represents the organization's worst 89-game stretch at any point in any season since 2001. In the past decade, the Red Sox have had three campaigns in which they've had a losing record over some 89-game period; those represent three of the four seasons the club has missed the playoffs during that span.

FEWEST RUNS SCORED BY THE SOX THROUGH 89 GAMES IN THE LAST 75 YEARS

YEARSTARTRSRUNS/GMAL AVG
194341-463083.463.89
196847-423303.713.41
199243-463313.724.32
201439-503343.754.27
194545-423483.913.90

Since 1939, only three Red Sox teams have scored fewer runs to this point than has the 2014 team -- and one of those was still actually outscoring the league average in a dead-ball era. That's true of 1968 and 1945, while the current Sox lag about half a run behind the typical AL team, which was also true in 1992, when Tom Brunansky finished as the club's only above-average offensive player. The 1943 team, meanwhile, had an excuse: Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, and Johnny Pesky were all off fighting in World War II.

THE WORST STARTS TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS SINCE 2004

YEARGM 1-89TEAM+/-GM 90-162
201344-45Dodgers-2148-25, .658
201246-43Tigers1342-31, .575
201147-42Brewers149-24, .671
201046-43Twins3548-25, .658
200945-44Twins2942-31, .575
200844-45Dodgers1240-33, .548
200745-44Yankees7549-24, .671
200646-43Dodgers5442-31, .575
200544-45Astros145-28, .616
200444-45Astros1348-25, .658

Ultimately, a bad start can be overwritten by a good finish. If the Sox were to somehow claw their way back into contention, and steal a playoff spot, the first three months would likely be largely forgotten. But history doesn't bode well for Boston's hopes of overcoming this bad a start. Looking at the last decade, four teams have made the postseason despite sitting at 44-45 through 89 games, but no team has made it with a record worse than that at this stage. Further, every team needed to play at a clip of .575 or better during its final 73 games to make a run, and that's the minimum required of the Red Sox just to finish the year at an even .500.

What's also worth noting is the run differentials on this list. Except for last year's Dodgers, every team had scored more runs than they'd allowed -- suggesting that there was an element of misfortune at play during their less-than-stellar start, and when it evened itself out over 162, they were indeed proven to be a decent team. Boston's present-day negative-50 makes no such assertion.

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