There are no sure things in sports anymore.
Most thought it was a sure thing that the Golden State Warriors would defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals last year after the Warriors owned a 3-1 series lead. Most thought it was a sure thing that the Cleveland Indians would defeat the Chicago Cubs in the World Series last year after the Indians also owned a 3-1 series lead. Most thought it was sure thing that the Atlanta Falcons would defeat the Patriots in this past Super Bowl when the Falcons owned a 28-3 lead late in the third quarter.
Of course, none of those “sure things” came to fruition.
Now, it’s thought to be a sure thing that the Red Sox will go deep into the playoffs this year, despite the fact that the franchise hasn’t put together back-to-back 90-plus win seasons since 2008-09. All we really can do right now is say the Sox “look good on paper.”
The thing is though … they look REALLY good on paper. In fact, on paper, they look better than any team in MLB.
We looked at ESPN’s top 150 fantasy baseball player rankings and the Sox have the most star-studded players in the Majors. Of the top 100 players in the rankings, the Red Sox own seven. Mookie Betts (No. 3 overall in MLB), Chris Sale (No. 19), Xander Bogaerts (No. 26), Hanley Ramirez (No. 76), Dustin Pedroia (No. 90), Jackie Bradley Jr. (No. 91) and Rick Porcello (No. 92) all appear on ESPN’s list.
Only the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians can compete with that as the Cubs also have seven players in the top 100 (Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, Kyle Schwarber, Kyle Hendricks, Wade Davis) and the Indians have six (Francisco Lindor, Corey Kluber, Edwin Encarnacion, Carlos Carrasco, Carols Santana, Jason Kipnis.
The 100-150 range is where the Sox separate themselves. David Price is ranked 118, Andrew Benintendi is ranked 119, Craig Kimbrel is ranked 121 and (shockingly) Drew Pomeranz comes in at 133 overall.
Of course, a good fantasy baseball ranking does not always translate to actual wins on the field. Mike Trout routinely goes off the board No. 1 overall in fantasy drafts (he’s ranked No. 1 overall again this year) but his Angels have only made the playoffs once since he debuted in 2011. Jose Altuve is ranked No. 2 overall, but his Astros went 84-78 last year. Nolan Arenado is ranked No. 4 overall and his Rockies have never even had a winning season since he made his debut in 2013.
This isn’t basketball, where one super-duper star can solve all. The Red Sox will need nearly all of their players who are ranked in the top 150 to live up to expectations this season.
And as we all know by now, that’s no sure thing.