Why the Red Sox have a tougher road in October than you might think

Yahoo Sports

Things can change between now and October, but there’s a good chance that no team in baseball is going to finish with a better record than the Boston Red Sox — whose 98 wins lead Major League Baseball and who could be the first team to clinch a postseason spot with a win Tuesday night.

These are all things the Red Sox can be proud about and celebrate. But it also means when October does come around, they’ll have the toughest job in the postseason: Not being a big ol’ disappointment. Because if there’s anything we know about baseball, it’s that being the best team in the regular season doesn’t mean the World Series is just yours for the taking.

This isn’t a knock on the Red Sox or fear about Chris Sale’s health or David Price’s postseason record or even anything to do with their recent postseason failures. This is all about the way October baseball seems to spit up and chew out just about anybody — no matter how many games you’ve won.

Being the team that wins the most games in the regular season? That doesn’t promise a team anything beyond home-field advantage. That’s the subject of my this week’s video in my Open Mike video series right here on The Spin on Yahoo Sports.

October will be tough for the Boston Red Sox, but not just because of Chris Sale’s health. (AP)
October will be tough for the Boston Red Sox, but not just because of Chris Sale’s health. (AP)

There are really two goals when you’re the best regular season team:

1. Win the World Series … but if you can’t do that …

2. Don’t get embarrassed.

The last thing the Red Sox want to do is join the 98-win Los Angeles Angels of 2014 who were swept out of the postseason, the 98-win Washington Nationals of 2012 who were also bounced right away or the most famous disappointment ever — the 2001 Seattle Mariners, who won 116 games in the regular season and then folded in the playoffs.

Again, this has nothing to do with the 2018 Red Sox as much as it has to do with history, and that’s not on Boston’s side. Only two teams in the past 10 years have won the most games in the regular season AND won the World Series — the 2016 Chicago Cubs and the 2009 New York Yankees. In that same time, two wild-card teams have won the World Series, so the chances are just as good the Oakland A’s win it all this year.

Perhaps the Red Sox are the team that can buck this baseball norm — after all, they’ve been far and away the best team this season. October just might be their biggest challenge.

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Mike Oz is a writer at Yahoo Sports. Contact him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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