The Red Sox worst-to-first story is just getting better. Not only have the Red Sox exceeded expectations but they should also be considered World Series favorites.
The Red Sox are arguably the hottest team in baseball right now going 27-9 since Aug. 18 when they lost two out of three from the Yankees, losing their third series in a row.
Since that time, the Red Sox have won eight series wins in a row, winning series over the Tigers, Yankees (twice, including a sweep), Dodgers, Orioles and Rays.
Are the Red Sox flawless? Of course not!
After posting identical abysmal seven-win Septembers the last two years, the Bearded Sox have nearly matched their win total in September from the last two years COMBINED, going 13-6 so far this month, averaging around seven runs per game.
All of this has resulted in the Red Sox securing the best record in baseball as the only team to have posted 94 wins so far this season and a .603 winning percentage. Assuming the Red Sox continue to win at least two out of three in their remaining four series, they would be on pace to finish the season with close to 100 wins this season. The Red Sox also have a Major League Leading 32 series wins this season.
That is quite a contrast to last season's 69-win season.
Are the Red Sox flawless? Of course not! Their biggest hole is their bullpen and lack of eighth inning set-up man to get to the ageless, energetic and electric closer Koji Uehara who has been un-hittable, allowing one earned run since June 30.
Even the controversial Yankees third baseman, Alex Rodriguez is impressed with the Red Sox, dubbing them "World Series favorites."
But what makes this Red Sox team so likeable among Red Sox fans is that even when their bullpen fails them in the eighth, they can come back and win it again, whether it be a walk-off or in their final at-bat.
This season the Red Sox are 22-10 in games that are decided in the game's last at-bat, including 11 walk-off wins.
So who are the Red Sox biggest competitors in the American League? We will start within the division.
Assuming that the Rays are able to hang on to a Wild Card spot, could pose some problems for the Red Sox. Tampa has been a thorn in the Red Sox side since they met in the 2008 ALCS. However this season, the Red Sox have managed to post a 12-7 record against the Rays this season.
The Oakland Athletics pose the biggest threat. Both teams are playing terrific baseball right now, getting great outings from their starters as well as great beards.
The second team that could pose a threat to the Red Sox are the AL Central leading Detroit Tigers. The Tigers are 3-4 against the Red Sox this year but have gone a mediocre 6-4 in their last 10 and are 2 1/2 games back of the Red Sox for best record in the American League.
The Red Sox won two out of three in the last series against Detroit winning the final game of the series 20-4.
The third team that could thwart the Red Sox World Series hopes are the Oakland Athletics. The Athletics have been equally hot as the Red Sox, 8-2 in their last 10 games while building a 7.5 game lead over the suddenly struggling Texas Rangers, who suddenly fighting for a wild card spot with the Cleveland Indians, who moved into the the second wild card by half a game.
The A's could be the Red Sox biggest threat in the postseason as potentially their biggest obstacle in reaching the World Series. The Red Sox are an even 3-3 against Oakland this season with each team winning a series two-games-to-one at home.
Lastly the Texas Rangers could be another obstacle in the Red Sox way to a World Series. The Rangers however have hit a major snag in September and are in danger of missing the playoffs. The 2011 Red Sox would certainly understand as they went 7-20 in the month of September.
Despite the Rangers September struggles, they have played well against the Sox going 4-2 against Boston this year,
Out of all the teams that have been listed (they are all currently in the playoffs if the regular season ended today), I would say that the Oakland Athletics pose the biggest threat. Both teams are playing terrific baseball right now, getting great outings from their starters as well as great beards.
October is just around the corner and it looks to be as exciting as ever.