"Statistics can be tortured to the point at which they will confess anything." -George Will
Lip, I think these seasons can be looked at as being mutually exclusive.
Take 2010 for example. Did you ever think that their poor start (24-33 on June 8 of that year) had more to do with their eventual downfall?
Or 2006. The pitching just ran out of gas. Plain and simple. Making the playoffs takes a little bit of luck too, and ****, the Sox were just unlucky during the 2nd half. Who the hell saw Detroit coming that year? Besides, you mention 94 wins as being right there for a playoff spot. They would have still went home with 94 wins that year, so what's the difference between winning 90 and winning 94, when it means you're still going home anyway?
It's also unfair to point out how the '08 team finished because they were already without their MVP (Quentin) and their all-star third baseman (Crede). Plus, they still made the damn playoffs anyway. Close, sure, but they still got in. End of story.
You also point out the 2009 team. Have you ever thought that the team wasn't all that great to begin with?
Games 1-81: 42-39 .518
Games 82-162: 37-44 .456
Before All Star Break: 45-43 .511
After All Star Break: 34-40 .459
I mean, come on. They played like an average team before the All-Star break, and guess what? They finished with a slightly below average record (79-83).
"You can't sit on a lead and run a few plays into the line and just kill the clock. You've got to throw the ball over the damn plate and give the other man his chance. That's why baseball is the greatest game of them all."- Former Orioles Manager Earl Weaver
Go Sox and Go Bearcats!