Is the World Series Hangover Real?

With the MLB champion Red Sox slumping badly, it's a question worth asking

The Red Sox look on from the dugout during a loss. (Photo by Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
The Red Sox look on from the dugout during a loss. (Photo by Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Boston Globe via Getty Images

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The Boston Red Sox, who won the World Series last year after winning a franchise-record 108 games during the regular season, are 6-13 to start this season and are currently on pace for 108 losses.

In wins above replacement, the Sox have gone from the third-best team in Major League Baseball last season to the 27th-best so far this year, according to FiveThirtyEight.

So, are the Sox suffering from a wicked pissah World Series hangover?

No, because according to ESPN, they don’t exist.

After analyzing the last eight World Series winners and their subsequent seasons, ESPN found that only one team — the 2017 Cubs — actually suffered from what could be classified as a World Series hangover.

Those Cubs went 12-8 over their first 20 games but stumbled after than and finished May 25-27. Following the All-Star break, the club did right the ship and they finished 92-70 and won the division title.

In the case of six of the other World Series winner, they all finished May over .500 and were clearly playing hangover-free baseball. The last remaining team, the 2014 Red Sox, finished May at 26-29 but it wasn’t due to a hangover.

“Was it a hangover or were they just a bad team that ultimately finished 71-91? I’m more inclined to say bad team,” according to ESPN. “Really, the 2013 group was a veteran team that had a fortunate run to glory bookended by two sub-.500 seasons.”

As for the 2019 Red Sox, they might be another story.

Boston has nearly the same roster as last season and they still play in a division (AL East) with perennial doormats like the Orioles and Blue Jays. But the Sox have been awful in all phases of the game to start the season and have a minus-42 run differential (worst in the American League).

“We’re not really playing very well anywhere,” Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said after their latest loss. “Our starting pitching hasn’t been very good, our defense hasn’t been overly good, our hitting hasn’t been like it’s been capable of being.”

It’s good the Sox are aware of the problem, but they’ll need to find a solution quickly as even earning the AL’s second wild-card spot is going to be difficult given the hole they’ve dug for themselves.

If they don’t, revisiting the World Series hangover question may be on tap.

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