Red Sox

Revisiting preseason predictions: Nearly none of the experts picked the Red Sox to get into the playoffs

Mary Schwalm
You'd be hard-pressed to find a member of the baseball media that picked Alex Cora's team to make the playoffs before the season.


Sure, the Red Sox played sub-.500 baseball for the final two months of the regular season, but their strong play for the first four months, along with a dramatic win in their final game, allowed them to squeak into Tuesday’s American League Wild Card Game and exceed the preseason expectations of many of baseball’s prognosticators.

None of the six Globe staffers predicted the Red Sox would reach the postseason at the beginning of the year, although all agreed the team would be better than it was in 2020. That was a low bar though, as the Sox’ 24-36 record in the pandemic shortened season amounted to a .400 season. Chad Finn wrote that he anticipated 83 wins, and he may have been the most optimistic. The Sox finished the season with 92 wins.

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All six staffers from the New York Post picked the Sox to finish fourth in the American League East, ahead of only the Orioles. While they finished just one-game ahead of the fourth-place Blue Jays, they far exceeded the 80.5 wins projected by the Post’s Joel Sherman.

Baseball America predicted a fourth-place finish for the Sox, with Kyle Glaser writing that the best case scenario for the Sox would be third place and a winning record, but far short of the playoffs.

ESPN polled 37 of its leading baseball experts consisting of writers, columnists, researchers, editors, and television commentators. The Yankees received 30 votes to win the AL East, followed by four for the Blue Jays and three for the Rays. Nine teams received votes to reach the wild card. The Red Sox were not one of them.

In their power rankings, ESPN had the Sox listed 19th of the 30-team field, with a projected finish of 79-83 and 14.7 percent playoff odds. The best case scenario had the Sox close to 90 wins and competing for the wild card.

Sports Illustrated pegged the Sox to go 80-82 and finish fourth. Both Stephanie Apstein and Michael Shapiro picked the Sox to be their surprise team of the season, with Shapiro writing that the Sox could challenge for a wild-card spot.

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