The Red Sox are going to win 100 games this year.
Probably more than 100. Possibly more than they ever have in a single season in their 118-year history.
Spare me any suggestion that acknowledging this could bring a jinx. The Red Sox aren’t jinxed, or cursed, and if you ever believed that they were, you should have gotten over it during the great exorcism of October 2004.
Math should be your comforting friend here. The Red Sox take the best record in baseball — 68-30 — into the All-Star break. They have 64 games after the break. If they split those — meaning they go 32-32 — they will finish 100-62.
The Red Sox could replace manager Alex Cora with Bobby Valentine while naming the ghost of Don Zimmer as bench coach and they’d still go better than 32-32.
That would be — this will be — the franchise’s first 100-win season since 1946, which is remarkable given how competitive they have been annually pretty much since The Impossible Dream of ’67. (They won 99 games in ’78, when the collective heart broke, and 98 in ’04, when it swelled full with joy and fulfillment.)
They are on pace to win 112 games, which would shatter the franchise record of 105 wins set in 19-freaking-12.
It’s hard to win 100 games; only three Red Sox teams have done it, the last coming when Ted Williams was two years older than Mookie Betts is now.
The 2018 Red Sox are going to make it look easy, and it doing so, they will join — probably even surpass — this company:
1912 RED SOX
After 98 games: 67-31.
Did they win the World Series? Yes, 4-3-1 over the New York Giants.
I’m hearing many notes of caterwauled resistance to the changes in baseball lately. I’m not here to dismiss gripes about shifts or launch angles or the length of games — we all find satisfaction in the game in different ways, and our individual likes and dislikes deserve validity. (Though you’ve got to admit, exit velocity is a cool number to know.) I am curious, however, if there is a significant number of fans who prefer how baseball was played 100-plus years ago to how it is now. Tris Speaker led the 1912 Red Sox with 10 home runs. Smoky Joe Wood had more decisions (he was 34-5) than he had starts (he started 38 of his 43 appearances). They stole 185 bases as a team . . . and got caught stealing 182 times, or 36 more times than Tim Raines was caught in his 808-steal MLB career. Efficient! If you’re one of those filbert-nut brained types who wanted David Ortiz to bunt once in a while, you’d have loved this team – they had 191 sacrifice hits. Exciting! Oh, and Tim Wakefield ate a lot of innings while going 15-12 with a 4.38 ERA. (I’ll never stop making that joke).
Seems to me this version of baseball — one in which skin and not skill fundamentally determined who got to play — pales in comparison in every way to the current game. It’s one reason I hope the 2018 Red Sox break their wins record. Baseball is better now. The Red Sox should be too.
1946 RED SOX
After 98 games: 70-28.
Did they win the World Series? No. They lost to the Cardinals, 4-3.
Yeah, yeah, Pesky held the ball, blah-blah-blah whatever. I’m just going to use this space to offer what is hopefully a wholly unnecessary reminder on how awesome Ted Williams was. In 150 games, Williams hit 38 homers, drove in 123 runs, scored 142 runs, and walked 156 times while striking out just 44. He slashed .342/.497/.667 with a 215 adjusted OPS. That would be a career year for many Hall of Famers. For Williams, the .342 average was his 10th best in a season in which he played at least 100 games. The .497 OBP tied for his eighth best, while the .667 slugging percentage was his third-best under the same criteria. He did this after spending the previous three years serving his country as a Marine in World War II. Ted Williams made John Wayne look like some ordinary dude named Marion.
1915 RED SOX
After 98 games: 63-35.
Did they win the World Series? Yes, they beat the Phillies, 4-1, and all the greased poles on Philly streets went unclimbed.
Speaker was still their featured star, leading the regulars — which still included fellow ’12 outfield holdovers Duffy Lewis and Harry Hooper —with an .827 OPS and 151 adjusted OPS. And Wood led the league with a 1.49 ERA, though it would his last season with the Red Sox, the nickname Smoky now presumably no longer in reference to his fastball but his smoldering overworked right arm. You know what’s really weird now, though? Their home run leader was actually a pitcher. No lineup regular had more than two homers, the baseballs and biceps utterly lacking in juice. But 20-year-old second-year lefthander Babe Ruth managed to hit four homers in just 92 at-bats, while also batting .315. Ruth was pretty good in his primary job, too, going 18-8 with a 2.44 ERA on the mound. So far as I can tell on the trusty internet — I looked it up on Bing, honest — he spent his entire career pitching for the Red Sox. The Red Sox, however, did sell Tim Wakefield to the Yankees, where he converted to outfield and reinvented the home run.