The Red Sox currently sport a winning percentage of .595, good for third in the majors, second in the AL East and first in the wild card.
How on Earth are they managing that?
It's obvious that the Red Sox have been very unlucky when it comes to injuries, but man, the sheer scope of the injuries is hard to comprehend.
Jacoby Ellsbury, the Sox' starting left fielder entering the season, has missed 70 games with rib injuries. Mike Cameron tacked on 34 missed games, with another 14 mixed in due to his need for increased rest. Victor Martinez already missed a couple due to a toe injury, and will now miss probably about 10 more games thanks to his fractured thumb. Dustin Pedroia is due out for up to six weeks--let's call that 25 games or so. This isn't including the games J.D. Drew has lost to his random injuries (though, at 69 games played, he has been one of the more durable guys).
Even the backups have, remarkably, fallen to injury. Jeremy Hermida has played only one game since June 5 thanks to a rib injury of his own--another 20 games downgraded from a backup outfielder to a backup backup outfielder. How about Bill Hall playing fourteen games at middle infield positions? You've got Jed Lowrie's debilitating case of Mono to blame for that. And, of course, Jason Varitek will now be ceding the starts he would have gotten during Victor Martinez' injury to Kevin Cash--only because AAA backups Dusty Brown and Mark Wagner are also hurt--who will be giving up his starts to Gustavo Molina. Does it never end?
No, it doesn't. Because that's just the lineup. Setting the 16 starts of Lester and Lackey as the baseline, the Sox have lost six starts from Daisuke Matsuzaka, and eight starts from Josh Beckett, which were split up between Tim Wakefield, Felix Doubront and Scott Atchison. I could even bring up injuries to guys like Manny Delcarmen, or Papelbon's trip to the bereavement list, but let's be honest-the way things have gone, we weren't missing much.
Of the 2754 at bats the Red Sox have taken this year, 26% have been taken by backups. Of those, almost 40% were taken by players that weren't even on the roster to start the year. Somehow, improbably, they would still make the playoffs if the season ended right now.
So as much as Sox fans might despair that the next two or three weeks could spell the end of the Red Sox, we have to remember just how good this team could be at full strength. We may never know, but if we see it close within a month or so, then how close do we have to be to consider ourselves in contention? What lead can't be overcome if the team plays like it can play with everyone healthy?