ESPN this week asked a far-reaching stable of pundits, writers and analysts for their 2011 baseball picks and forty-five of them ended up picking the Red Sox to win the AL East. By itself, that isn’t too surprising as the Sox do seem primed for a big year. But here is the catch. The survey consisted of just FORTY-FIVE responses. You read that right …. the Sox are a unanimous pick in a not so small sample.
That has to scare the piss out any contrarian who happens to be long the Red Sox right now. I mean if forty-five stock analysts were surveyed and they all made Disney their top pick, it would be a very strong signal to short The Walt Disney Company, no? Positive sentiment is one thing. But forty-five out of forty-five is tantamount to the1935 German elections.
So what accounts for so much groupthink? Honestly, I can’t explain it. Sure, the Sox are armed and dangerous. They got a couple of studs at the head of the rotation, they have at least a 900-run offense and the defense should be excellent. All told, if eighty percent of the plan comes together, they should be able to clear 95 wins without too much difficulty. And if they get a clean trip, they might be able to scare a hundred.
But there are warts. Plenty of them. For one, the closer looks ready to go “Sheen” at any moment. On top of that, the everyday catcher sports a career OPS of .700, the manager can’t bring himself to hurt the feelings of any veteran, Josh Beckett is a total “jump ball,” and who knows how some of the new guys will perform now that they are swimming in a bigger fishbowl. Call me crazy, but I would have thought this list of grievances would have shown up in ESPN’s survey.
And if all that weren’t enough, the Sox also have to deal with the Yankees, who might be a bit wounded but remain formidable. Given that depth chart and those resources, I find it almost impossible to believe that not a single respondent wrote the Yankees name down. Granted, none of the tools at the NY Post or Fox were asked for their opinion but that alone doesn’t explain 45-0.
People, this is not Rachel Alexandra racing some busted up old Mare that runs at Belmont. It is the frigging Yankees which makes this race more like a downhill between Lindsey Vonn and Maria Reisch. This might be the contrarian in me speaking, but I’m just a bit worried that the whole world has bet on Vonn.