|2014 NBA Playoffs Expert Picks: First Round||NBA First Round Predictions||Datsyuk’s Late Heroics Topple Bruins in Game 1||Celtics Go 1-1 in Draft Order Tiebreakers|
The races are starting to open up. Minnesota is 3.0 games ahead of their competition, and the Cardinals and Reds are a vast, vast 1.0 games apart. The NL Wildcard is now in a tie, while it’s still easily the Rays and Yankees in the American counterpart. San Diego did well against San Fran to boost their lead and eliminate the Giants’ lead in the Wildcard hunt.
After an absence of just one edition, the Yankees are back. The top eight teams were all present on the previous list, with only the bottom two slots being new teams. The Twins, moving five spots, were the biggest change this time, which is quite impressive considering no team kept their ranking from the previous time.
As usual, teams get 10 points for a first place vote, then nine points for a second, and so on. Ties are broken based on who received the most first place votes, then the most second, and so on. The second tiebreaker is position in the previous rankings.
And as we’re nearing the end of the season, we’ve also provided our thoughts as to how the Red Sox will finish the season. And we’ve got a brand new contributor for this week, and he’s keeping the Red Sox afloat. And helping Texas while he’s at it.
|John||KC||Leo||SoB Composite||Last Time||Comments|
|#1||New York Yankees||New York Yankees||Texas Rangers||(2) New York Yankees (29)||#2, up 1||KC – NY is still baseball’s best team, and Robinson Cano is looking like the best player on the best team.|
|#2||Tampa Bay Rays||Tampa Bay Rays||New York Yankees||Tampa Bay Rays (26)||#2, down 1||John – Tampa has won their last two, but both of those were against Baltimore. And they lost to Baltimore before that. It may be too much to ask of the Rays to win 11 of 19.|
|#3||San Diego Padres||Minnesota Twins||Tampa Bay Rays||(1) Texas Rangers (22)||#5, up 3||Leo – The years of rebuilding seem to be finally paying off for the Rangers. Cliff Lee has been dazzling since being traded from the Mariners, and has formed a lethal top of the rotation with fellow lefty C.J. Wilson. Vladimir Guerrero seems to have found the fountain of youth [too].|
|#4||Minnesota Twins||Texas Rangers||Atlanta Braves||Minnesota Twins (19)||#9, up 5||KC – Somehow, the Twins are running away with the AL Central Title.|
|#5||Atlanta Braves||San Diego Padres||Boston Red Sox||Atlanta Braves (18)||#6, up 1||Leo – After a four-year absence from the playoffs, Bobby Cox’s team appears poised to return to post season play. A rejuvenated Tim Hudson headlines a strong pitching staff, but Chipper Jones’s injury may be hard to overcome given their lack of power up and down the order.|
|#6||Texas Rangers||Atlanta Braves||Cincinnati Reds||San Diego Padres (16)||#3, down 3||KC – The Padres won’t go away, and after trading for Tejada and Ludwick, SD should stay ahead of SF.|
|#7||Cincinnati Reds||Cincinnati Reds||Minnesota Twins||Cincinnati Reds (13)||#8, up 1||Leo – A powerful lineup led by offensive force Joey Votto and a career renaissance from Scott Rolen is balanced out by an impressive young rotation. Look for much-hyped Cuban rookie Aroldis Chapman to make an impact.|
|#8||Philadelphia Phillies||St. Louis Cardinals||St. Louis Cardinals||Boston Red Sox (7)||#10, up 2||Leo – Amazingly, the Red Sox have fought off a comical stretch of injuries to stay in the playoff hunt. Adrian Beltre has exceeded all expectations and Clay Buchholz is finally showing why the Sox were so hesitant to trade him the last few years.|
|#9||San Francisco Giants||Philadelphia Phillies||San Diego Padres||St. Louis Cardinals (7)||NR||John – After sweeping the Reds, the Redbirds are a game back, but half a game back of the Phillies and Giants too.|
|#10||St. Louis Cardinals||Boston Red Sox||San Francisco Giants||Philadelphia Phillies (5)||NR||John – If I told you the Phillies were back in the Wildcard lead and just 2.0 games behind the Braves again, you’d think they’d have Ryan Howard and Chase Utley back. But they don’t.|
|Others earning votes:||San Francisco Giants (3)|
I keep trying to be pessimistic about the Red Sox, but then they keep having a good game. Then they keep following it up with a bad one. Pedroia will be back on Tuesday, but Ellsbury is back out. Essentially flipping a coin the rest of the way, I don’t see the Red Sox as much different than a .500 team from here on out.
Why? Because the Red Sox are definitely good enough to make the playoffs, but will probably have too much trouble getting by the Rays and Yankees in the best division in baseball. Dustin Pedroia’s return should help an already strong lineup (second in the majors in runs scored), but the team’s Achilles heel is pitching, which should have been their strength.
The Sox are on pace for 91 wins; but I’d project the number at around 93. The higher win total I’m prediciting is based off the assumption that Pedroia and Co. come back and stay healthy for the remainder of the season. Of course, they’ll need more from Josh Beckett and the bullpen to make the playoffs, since the Yankees look like a 100-win team, and the Rays won’t be far behind.
Tags: Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Minnesota Twins, MLB Power Rankings, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers