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MLB Power Rankings: If Ellsbury, rotation OK, Red Sox can win it all

by | Baseball Writer
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Throughout the entire month of August, I felt like there were going to be three favorites to win the World Series entering October. I figured, in no particular order, the Braves, Dodgers and Tigers would be the three teams most were picking to win it all entering the playoffs.

Obviously, any team making the postseason is capable of winning the World Series and there's no reason to discount teams like the Cardinals, Rangers, Pirates, Reds, Athletics or whoever wins the second AL wild card. That would be foolish. It's just that the three aforementioned "favorites" have a formula that bodes well for October success in good-to-great starting pitching, powerful offenses and lock-down back-ends of the bullpen.

At this point, though, I think one true front-runner has emerged and it's the team I glaringly didn't mention: The Boston Red Sox.

Now, this all hinges on getting Jacoby Ellsbury back for the playoffs because he's the table-setter for an insanely good offense. I believe they can win without him, but I wouldn't consider them one of the favorites if he can't make it back.

With him, the offense is so well-rounded. They lead the AL in both on-base percentage and slugging -- so they are the best at getting runners on and hitting for power. They're third in the AL in stolen bases, too, so this is a rather attractive combination. It's no shock they lead the majors in runs scored.

At the back-end of the bullpen, Koji Uehara has been utterly unbelievable, especially of late, while Junichi Tazawa is a quality setup man.

The question on the minds of many, however: Will Boston's playoff rotation be good enough to take the World Series?

The Red Sox rotation actually ranks fifth in the AL in ERA, so by no means is it bad. In fact, it's better than that figure. Clay Buchholz is finally back and appeared dominant Tuesday night. Jon Lester seems to be settling in (1.98 ERA his past seven starts). Jake Peavy and John Lackey filling in slots three and four in the postseason isn't too shabby either.

In looking at a seven-game series in the playoffs, the Red Sox could go Buchholz, Lester, Peavy, Lackey, Buchholz, Lester, Peavy.

Considering the stout offense and dominant back-end of the bullpen, I think that rotation is more than enough. It actually has the chance to be great.

All in all, the Red Sox are very dangerous right now. Not that they're alone. Proclaiming a favorite is going to be real tough. For right now I'd say the Red Sox, but the answer could be different in three days, let alone three weeks.

Once again, October is going to be awesome.

Please feel free to contact me with comments either on Twitter (@MattSnyderCBS) or via email: matt.snyder@cbs.com. These were posted the morning of Sept. 11. Any action coming after posting wasn’t included here.

RANK TEAM MOVE (LW)
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