Why have the Red Sox won almost 20 games more than the Indians?

Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports

Going into the season, I thought the Cleveland Indians would be better than the Boston Red Sox. Not a lot better, a little better. But better.

My opinion on this matter was based on numbers. and it should be acknowledged that numbers, even carefully chosen ones, aren't always right. That's especially true when you're using numbers to forecast things that haven't happened, as opposed to making sense of things that have already occurred. Every year I create an objective forecast of the coming baseball season. Every year, there are hits and misses. When it comes to a comparison of the Indians and Red Sox, that was clearly a miss.

The thing is, after the Indians beat the Red Sox on Saturday, Cleveland sits 18½ games behind Boston in the American League standings. That's fine. If I were to do a comparison of every possible combination of two teams in the majors, I could easily find bigger misses. Heck, I'm 20 games off of the projected Baltimore Orioles against the reality Baltimore Orioles, because even though I thought they'd be bad (74 wins), it was impossible to foresee them being a team that might win fewer than 50 games.

What's disconcerting about the Red Sox-versus-Indians miss is that despite what the standings show, I'm still not entirely convinced that I'd pick Boston in a postseason matchup between the two teams. We could get that matchup in a few weeks, in the American League Championship Series, so maybe it would be instructive to look at some questions regarding these teams. Would a Boston-Cleveland matchup in October be more even than the standings suggest?