Ninety games into the baseball season, and the Boston Red Sox have won more than two-thirds of them.

They lead the majors in batting average, runs, hits, doubles, extra base hits and a bundle of other offensive categories I don’t study because I’m old and stubborn.

And if you’re anything like me, you still can’t decide if September and October will harbor hallelujahs or heartbreak.

Let’s start with the bad news, because that’s what Red Sox red, blue and pink-hatters alike do, as a rule.

The only two teams in my lifetime with a comparable record at this milepost were 1978 (62-28) and 1986 (57-33). We all know how those stories ended. I was in kindergarten for one, ninth grade for the other, and sobbed like a toddler with skinned knees over both.

It’s also unwise to blindly stack this team’s ledger against the 90-game sample (61-29) against the eventual World Series champions of 2004 (50-40), 2007 (55-35) and 2013 (54-36).

Major League Baseball was in a relative state of post-PED parity then. The luxury tax and every team’s customized version of Moneyball seemed to address the competitive imbalance that sullied century’s end.

Have you looked at the standings lately? Have you tried watching a full, nine-inning game that doesn’t involve the Red Sox, Yankees or Astros? Take the word of someone who could choose to take in all 162 Cincinnati Reds’ games, if he were a retired masochist: The gap between the haves and have-nots is brutal right now.

Baseball has not-so-subtly readopted the NBA’s Warriors, whatever-team-LeBron-is-on-this-year, and everyone else model. Six teams in the American League are 10 or more games under .500 as we type. Both mathematically and practically speaking, Boston’s win total entering Sunday’s merciful series-ender in Kansas City was 61*. You simply can’t compare it to any previous year with a straight face.

What’s to like about the Sox so far?

1. Consistency. It’s a quieter approach than the Yankees’ attempt to bring back the Bash Brothers, but the Sox have two legitimate MVP candidates in J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts.

The rest of the lineup – one gaping, great-glove, no-hit hole notwithstanding – is harder to navigate than the one Boston’s division rival trots out each day. Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Andrew Benintendi and Mitch Moreland all are on pace for 20-plus home runs and 100-or-so RBIs. The first three aren’t quite living up to the absurd level of hype they generated in the minors, but collectively they’re exceptional.

2. Chris Sale. What’s not to love? With any run support at all, you can etch one in the ‘W’ column every fifth day. He has allowed one or zero earned runs in 12 of his 19 starts. Six of Sale’s last seven appearances have ended with double-digit strikeouts, offsetting one, lonely walk in each. And unlike John Farrell’s old-school overreliance on his ace early in the season, Alex Cora has pushed Sale past the seventh inning only three times thus far. He’ll be ready when it matters.

3. Smarts. The Sox are fundamentally sound. They’ve been caught stealing only 14 times all season. Aside from Devers, they don’t make errors. They don’t run into silly outs under the guise of trying to force the other team to make mistakes, as in the Little League tactics popularized league-wide by Joe Maddon and Mike Scioscia. So far, I’m happy to report that any of my concerns about having a rookie manager were unfounded.

What scares me to death?

1, 2 and 3. David Price. But here’s the thing: We can complain about his big-game failures all we want, but the reality is that he’s going to win 15 to 18 games, which is the equivalent of what 20 to 25 used to be before pitching got specialized and squeamish.

And here’s the other thing: Give me your alternative. Nobody’s waiting in the wings. There aren’t enough prospects in the threadbare farm system to trade away and rent a better option for the rest of the season. These days you absolutely need four starters to survive the postseason, so Cora and company best be prepared to squeeze whatever they can out of Price’s Fortnite-and-frostbite-numbed fingers.

4. Overall depth. Saturday night’s good-news, bad-news laugher against the Royals was a prime example of how quickly the fortunes can head south. Let’s all hope and pray Christian Vasquez’s fractured pinky is truly a 10-day deal, and that Joe Kelly’s dizziness was just a matter of dehydration. Much as we all love Sandy Leon, I’m confident that familiarity would breed contempt if he squatted out there every day. And the less we have to see of Brandon Workman, the better.

For all my optimism about the lineup expressed earlier, I’m less giddy about an on-any-given-day nine that includes three stopgaps (Eduardo Nunez, Blake Swihart and Steve Pearce) and a center fielder struggling to hit his weight (Jackie Bradley Jr.)

5. Houston. For all the ESPN-fueled, everyday hype about the Sox and Yankees, I believe the defending champion Astros are baseball’s superior team in a best-of-seven series.

Hope I’m wrong, but history tells me 60-plus wins at this point in the summer are a mirage unless you have pitching such as theirs.

* Kalle Oakes spent 27 years with the Sun Journal sports department. He is now sports editor of the Georgetown (Kentucky) News-Graphic. Keep in touch with him by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @oaksie72.


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