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MLB Preview: Boston's real-life fantasy team

Loading up a fantasy lineup with hometown heroes usually spells disaster over the long haul. But if ever there was a team built to succeed in fantasy — not to mention a 100-win reality — it might be the 2011 Red Sox.

If fantasy baseball had a Ten Commandments, something in the top five would read, “Thou shalt not draft with thy heart.”

Loading up a fantasy lineup with hometown heroes usually spells disaster over the long haul. But if ever there was a team built to succeed in fantasy — not to mention a 100-win reality — it might be the 2011 Red Sox.

Of course, all that matters to the real Sox is winning on the field. But by adding slugger Adrian Gonzalez to play first base, moving Kevin Youkilis back to third, then signing speedy Carl Crawford to join Jacoby Ellsbury in the outfield, the Red Sox have put together the most statistically diverse lineup in franchise history. Diverse as it is dangerous.

Home runs and RBIs? They’ve got that with Gonzalez, Youkilis and David Ortiz manning the middle of the order.

Runs and stolen bases? Not a problem with Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Crawford setting the table and swiping bases.

“This is a group we believe in,” general manager Theo Epstein told the media before the team wrapped up spring training. “We like the way they fit together. Obviously, [there’s] a lot of offensive talent. It’s a healthy group, and a group we’re prepared to compete with in the toughest division in baseball. We expect good things from them.”

The Red Sox should be able to rack up some wins and strikeouts, too, with Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz anchoring a rotation that can afford to allow Josh Beckett to scuffle along as the third starter, with John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka giving indications that ’11 will be an improvement over a disappointing ’10.

And saves with Jonathan Papelbon? Well, no team is perfect. That’s just being realistic.

 
 
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