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Evaluating Strength of Schedule: Rays, Red Sox, Yankees


Who you play is just as important as how you play. Through the first half of the season, the top three teams in the American League East have played very different schedules. 

The Tampa Bay Rays have been quite a surprise this season, having posted a 51-32 record through yesterday. Even more impressive, though, is the fact that they have played an incredibly difficult schedule. The Rays have played 68 of their 83 games against teams who currently have records of .500 or better. The Rays have played extremely well in these games, going 42-26, while going 9-6 in their games against teams with records below .500. The Rays have yet to play the Cleveland Indians or Kansas City Royals this season, and have played the Seattle Mariners only three times.

Fellow contenders Boston Red Sox have played a difficult schedule as well, with 65 games against teams with records of .500 or better. The Red Sox have not fared as well as the Rays in these games, going 36-29; but they have played well in 21 games against bad teams, posting a 14-7 record against teams with records under .500.

The New York Yankees, on the other hand, have played a relatively easy schedule and have had a difficult time in their games against good teams. Of their 84 games, only 41 have come against teams with records of .500 or better. The Yankees have struggled in these games, posting an 18-23 record. The Yankees have feasted on weaker opponents, compiling a 26-17 record against teams with records under .500. Unfortunately for the Yankees, they have already completed their season series with the Indians, Royals, and Mariners. 

All three of these teams have performed well against teams with records under .500, which makes sense, considering that the Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees are quality teams. Both the Rays and Red Sox have performed well against good teams, too, although the Rays have been even better than the Red Sox.

What does this mean for the second half of the season? Well, the schedules are going to even out, for the most part. This means that the Rays are going to have a relatively easy schedule and the Yankees a very difficult schedule, with the Red Sox somewhere in between. The Rays will play Cleveland six times, Seattle four times, and Kansas City eight times in the second half of the season. The Rays are in prime position to maintain their division lead, whereas the Yankees will need to play significantly better if they hope to overcome their deficit while.