The first place Red Sox of 2013 have seemingly exorcised the demons of a 69 win 2012.
It wasn't compelled by the power of prayer or sacrifices to the voodoo god Jo-bu.
While it would be fun to say this incarnation of Sox have done it with their Bunyan beards, enthusiastic high fives, Zolton-like helmet punts and FCC violations, the question remains - how much does chemistry actually have to do with this teams success?
Buster Olney of ESPN wrote last week, “the Red Sox team that seemed to hate coming to work in 2012 now appears to relish each day... to hang out and live and work and breathe baseball.”
For sure they are a likable bunch and it would be so much easier to say that team dinners at Uno's and a few fresh-cut sunflowers have led to the best record in the American League and duck boats at the ready in Boston Harbor. But how much does it actually have to do with moving a runner over, turning a double play, hitting a walk-off or actually winning a game? Not much really.
While baseball sabermetricians can huddle in their basements and measure stats like BABIP, WAR and UZR, they have yet to come up with a neat little acronym for team chemistry. It's beyond Bill James and the measureable. Some stat geeks head just exploded.
There is no stat for just "getting along". Guys that grab chicken and beer together get along just fine, too. They also go 7-20 in September.
The success of this years Red Sox team can be found, not in the periodic table, but in the box score.
The Red Sox currently lead all of baseball in runs scored, total bases, runs batted in, on-base percentage and OPS. The 2013 Red Sox have also dropped their team ERA from 4.72 last season to a seventh best in the AL 3.91 this year. They are also second in quality starts (57), second in strike outs (819), fourth in batting average against (.250) and they lead all of baseball in wins (58).
While I'm no sabermetric swami (I'm a Guru, dammit), I'd go out on a pretty long limb and say the team that scores the most runs and gives up the fewest is going to win. 100% of the time. Scoreboard. Chemistry or no chemistry.
"It's not really a secret with what we're doing," Dustin Pedroia said. "We're playing the game better. It's not like we're trying to do anything everybody else doesn't do."
Winning is the secret to this teams chemistry, not the other way around. With 10 games in two weeks against AL East rivals the Yankees, Rays and Orioles the true chemistry test will begin. Win, and it's smiles and high fives. Lose, and it's frowns and finger pointing.
Winners get A's in chemistry. Losers get F's and shipped to the Dodgers.
Thoughts on team chemistry? Overrated, underrated? Comment below.