Though the Red Sox have held first place in the AL East nearly wire-to-wire so far, they've only recently garnered consideration as an elite team. The skepticism was understandable after 2012's disaster, but now over 100 games in, it's time to reconfigure expectations.
Red Sox fans may not see 2013 as a World Series-or-bust season, but playoffs are certainly a reasonable supposition given the team's current record. Nonetheless, October baseball is not yet a lock in Boston, especially with the distress surrounding the team's depleted pitching staff.
As opposed to the National League, the American League playoff race still includes a fair number of contenders, with at least eight teams holding realistic postseason hopes. With that in mind, here are the six AL teams Boston fans should most worry about, both as impediments to reaching the playoffs and potential opponents if the Red Sox make the dance.
*Unless otherwise cited, all stats courtesy Fangraphs.com and Baseball-Reference.com