Friday, September 14, 2007

That Magic Time Of Year (Edited)

With my Sox commentary pretty low this season, and the Sox-Yanks series going a long way towards defining the last 2 weeks of the season, it's time to examine the various magic numbers that will determine the Sox position in the playoffs. Keep in mind that the Sox have 15 games left at the time of this writing.

A magic number represents the combination of Sox wins and opponents losses that ensures a better seeding.

Making the Playoffs
Magic Number: 7 (currently held over Detroit)
For the Sox to make the playoffs, they must at least clinch the wild card. This means that the play of the Angels, Indians, and Yankees is somewhat irrelevant to the Sox playoff chances. As such, the only teams that could knock the Sox out of the playoffs are the Tigers, Mariners, and Blue Jays. That said, even if one of those teams goes undefeated the rest of the way, the Sox can make the post-season by going 7-8 down the stretch. The following record ensure the Sox make the playoffs:
Eliminates Toronto: 1-14
Eliminates Seattle: 6-9
Eliminates Detroit: 7-8

Winning the Division
Magic Number: 11 (currently held over the Yankees)
Obviously, a lot depends on this weekend. If the Sox sweep this weekend, the magic number will be 4, based on their winning the season series against the Yanks (thus, if they finish the season with the same record, the Sox get the division crown, essentially eliminating need for an additional win). So, if the sox win their next 7 games, they will clinch. For the Sox to eliminate the division no matter how the Yanks play after Sunday:
If Sox sweep the Yanks: 4-8 (7-8 total)
If Sox take 2: 7-5* or 6-6* (9-6 or 8-7 total)
If Sox take 1: 9-3 (10-5 total)
Sox swept: 11-1 (11-4 total)

*Please note, if the Sox are able to win 2 of the 6 games against Toronto and Tampa, they need only go 6-6 after the Yankees series, as they will have a better winning percentage than the Yanks in the AL East, giving them the division crown. Again, this assumes the Yanks win all 13 remaining games against the rest of the AL East.

Home Field Throughout the Playoffs
Magic Number: 13 (over Angels)
The Sox would have to go 13-2 to ensure HFA if the Angels won out, as the Sox 6-4 record against the Angels provides them the tie-breaker if records end up being equal.

Summing it up
The Sox need only play .500 baseball from here on out to make the playoffs even if other teams run the table. Obviously, this is unlikely to happen. As to the AL East, the Sox are still in pretty good shape as long as they avoid the sweep and the Yanks drop a few games final weeks.

For example, if the Sox take 1 from the Yanks and the Yanks go 10-3 after they leave Boston (which is still a pretty blistering pace considering their pitching) , the Sox can still go 6-6 to win the division.

The one thing that would really hurt the Sox is getting swept. If the Sox are swept, the Yanks go 10-3, then the Sox need to go 8-4 to take the division. Still very doable, but not a sure thing by any means.

2 or 3 wins this weekend means the Yanks basically need to win out their remaining games to get the division. If they finished 10-3, the Sox would clinch going 3-9 (or 1-11 if they sweep the Yanks).


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