This is a first in my lifetime, and probably the lifetimes of most Sox fans. The crimson hose are essentially the unanimous World Series favorites.
And when I say unanimous, I'm not exaggerating much:
- Sports Illustrated's baseball preview has the Sox winning 100 games and a championship.
- Jayson Stark picks the Sox to win it all — as do 32 of his 44 colleagues. The final ESPN tally: Red Sox 33, Phillies 7, Braves 2, White Sox 1, Giants 1, Rockies 1 (Yankees 0? Really?). All 45 ESPN analysts picked the Red Sox to win the AL East, and 42 picked them to win the AL championship (the Yankees, Rays and Chisox each had one vote).
- The ESPN consensus was more split on postseason awards, but Adrian Gonzalez took home a comfortable plurality for predicted AL MVP, with 15 of the 45 votes. Robinson Cano won 12 votes, while Miguel Cabrera and Evan Longoria finished well behind with four. Alex Rodriguez and Carl Crawford took three votes apiece, while Kevin Youkilis grabbed two. Josh Hamilton and Mark Teixeira received one vote each.
- Jon Lester, meanwhile, nearly claimed a majority of predicted Cy Young votes, with 22, well ahead of second-place Justin Verlander (7) and third-place CC Sabathia (5). David Price received four votes, and Clay Buchholz and Gio Gonzalez were each named once.
- Ken Rosenthal also has joined the ranks of the Red Sox believers.
- And even the 10-man staff of the Yankee Analysts (almost) unanimously picks the Sox to win the division, with six of them also putting Boston in the World Series (though only three of them give them the crown. The Phillies get five votes, with the Yanks and Rockies each receiving one.)
I'm sure I'm missing some, but needless to say, this is pretty unprecedented. The Sox have had teams in the past that many thought were excellent and may even have been favored by a majority of analysts and/or fans (2004 and 2007 were both this way, as I recall), but this is an incredible consensus, one I think overrates the Red Sox in relation to teams like the Yankees, Phillies and even the Rays and makes me very uncomfortable. On the one hand, it's very exciting to go into a season with such a good team; on the other, there's essentially no room for the team to have what will be perceived as a successful season short of the ultimate goal. And as we all know, it's still unlikely the Sox get there.
One day left!