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Expert Predictions Put Red Sox On Top In AL East, World Series

Expectations for the Red Sox are high. With a sizeble group of returning and now-healthy stars complemented by the offseason additions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford (not to mention a solid new bullpen), it's hard not to expect a lot.

The experts, it seems, agree. When touting the Sox as World Series favorites during the year, fans can now do so knowing they have the backing of, well, just about everybody.

Gethin Coolbaugh already pointed out the high expectations Sports Illustrated laid out in print. But they added more online at SI.com. Of the 12 writers giving their predictions, 11 had the Sox pegged as AL East division winners, nine expected them to move forward to the World Series, and four predicted a championship.

This was the least optimistic group of the bunch.

For Yahoo, two of their three predicting experts had the Sox taking home the Commissioner's Trophy at the end of the year, with all three expecting a division win. Ken Rosenthal--not to overstate his importance, but he was the only one offering predictions at FOX--has the Sox winning it all as well.

ESPN had the greatest number of picks at 45, which makes it all-the-more impressive that Boston was the only team unanimously selected to win their division-this despite playing in the all-too-stacked American League East. Of them, 33 had Boston winning the Series, with only three expecting them to be eliminated earlier in the postseason.

But the one site that was most convinced of the Sox' future success was CBS. Of eight predictions, all but one had them winning the series, with Danny Knobler expecting them to lose in the Fall Classic to the Braves.

All-in-all, the Sox are predicted to win the AL East championship by 67 out of 69 experts, the pennant by 62, and the World Series by 47. That's better odds than Vegas gives them, with the Sox being 9/2 to win the series at Bodog.com--second to the Phillies at 13/4, but still fairly impressive.

Of course, the season isn't played out in predictions. But if there's any team that can get the job done, as the experts will tell you, it's the Red Sox.