Who Would Win The AL East If The Season Started Today?

The MLB off-season has already seen a lot of interesting uniform changes via both free agent signings and trades and it doesn’t look like we’re nearly done yet. Chris Sale was shipped to Boston in exchange for some prospects and have created a dangerous rotation if all clicks. However, that’s just one of many moves made this off-season. You can check out all of the moves of the 2016-2017 off-season by clicking here: http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/news/hot_stove/y2016/free_agent_tracker.jsp

As of December 30th, most teams in the division have an idea of what they’ll be bringing to 2017 season, barring any other surprising blockbuster trades, which is always a possibility. As of this writing, it’s possible that Jose Bautista will return to the Blue Jays, which could fair well for them. The Yankees, Orioles’ and Rays’ have been mostly quiet. So, with the moves made, who would win the AL East if the season started today? Let’s break it down.

5. Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays were contending within the division just a few seasons ago and went on a nice stretch from 2008 until 2013. The run was highlighted by a World Series appearance, which would be a losing effort to the Phillies back in 08. Unfortunately, this has been the only success the team has had in its franchise history. (Granted, they’ve only been around since 1998)

The team certainly has some nice pieces and if everything clicks, it’s possible that some noise could be made. Last year’s team saw contributions from Evan Longoria and Brad Miller was a surprising 30 home-run contributor.

The problem with the team, is they don’t have enough pieces in either their rotation or lineup to really make a great impact in 2017 that would be enough for a playoff run of any sort. Adding Wilson Ramos this off-season is certainly a step in the right direction, but they still have a long walk before they can be viewed as serious contenders.

Prediction: The Rays could potentially take 4th place in most of their pieces click, however, the other teams in the division may be too much to overcome. Barring any breakout stars on the team who could help propel them further, I’d expect the team to be at 5th place at the end of the upcoming season. 

4. New York Yankees

This part of the article is going to be difficult for me to write. I am a die-hard Yankee fan and I’m happy with the direction that the team is going in. I love the potential of the teams’ prospects and I think the future is bright.

Stars like Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and others are electrifying the Bronx, but there are multiple factors to winning. The pitching rotation is really suspect, as there isn’t much direction outside of Masahiro Tanaka.

Luis Severino is young and looks like he’ll eventually find his way, but he seems to still have a lot of work to do first. Michael Pineda had a really bad 2016. As a Yankee fan, I hope he finds what went wrong, but I can’t assume he will.

Prediction: IF Michael Pineda and Luis Severino find their way. IF CC Sabathia can continue his career resurgence and the prospects can deliver the goods in 2017, we’ll see the Yankees in the playoffs.

However, that’s a bit too much magic for me to put them above the Jays, O’s and Sox given the state of their teams at this point. So, while I’d like to be wrong. I’d expect the Yankees’ to competitively finish at 4th place, with an above .500 record.

3. Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles’ have remained a viable threat over the past couple of seasons being led by manager Buck Showalter, who is one of the best coaches in the game and the Orioles’ have been in playoff contention every year, since overcoming their mediocrity years that spun from 1998 until 2011.

The Orioles’ should be viewed as a consistent threat to take the division based on their last couple of seasons, though they shouldn’t be viewed as World Series threat just yet. The team has one of the very best offensive lineups in baseball, however, their starting rotation lacks in comparison to the elite.

Prediction: The AL East is hard to predict this time around, as the divisions’ order could be a hot potato like it was last season. I expect the Orioles’ to finish in second place by default, especially if the team brings back Mark Trumbo, who is still a free agent.

As already mentioned, the Orioles’ have one of the best offensive lineups in the league. The starting rotation, though not elite, is still an above average one and could help propel the team to the playoffs’ via a wild card spot.

2. Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays became one of the dominant forces in the league. The lineup would include Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki all at one time. However, as of this writing, they’ve lost both Encarnacion and Bautista.

Even if the team brings back Bautista, it’ll be hard to predict what they’ll be receiving from the 36-year-old after having an 116 game season in which he smacked 22 home runs and sported a .234 batting average.

The line-up may have taken a few steps back, but is still elite. The pitching rotation was once the teams’ weakness, however, thanks to few 2016 heroes, the rotation looks promising and could help lead the Jays to another playoff run in 2017.

Prediction: It’s extremely possible that the Blue Jays take first place, but you have to assume that the loss on Encarnacion will hurt.

I also am not willing to assume that the 2016 heroes, will repeat their production. However, I’d expect the rotation to still deliver enough to lead the team to second place.

1. Boston Red Sox

When I wrote my AL East predictions before the 2016 season, I noted that the Red Sox had a ton of players who were due for a comeback and that they had a great mix of veterans and rookies who were all primed to deliver. The David Ortiz announcement had to light a fire under everyone as well.

Sure enough, the team went from being the last place in 2015 and would finish at first place in 2016. The Sox had a complete team in the AL East last season and they’ve managed to improve upon it. The pitching rotation is arguably in baseball after adding Chris Sale and the lineup, though losing Ortiz is a big loss, still is an elite one.

Prediction: The Red Sox’s World Series hopes is a bit more of a daunting task. David Price has consistently shrunk under pressure and Chris Sale is unproven around playoff time.

However, during the regular season, it’s hard to make a case against the Sox winning the division. Though it makes me sick to my stomach, I expect them to win the division again, but in a bit more convincing fashion.

 

Official AL East Predictions As of 1/7/17:

5. Tampa Bay Rays

4. New York Yankees

3. Baltimore Orioles

2. Toronto Blue Jays

1. Boston Red Sox

 

Please, stay tuned to us if you enjoyed, as there will be a prediction article for all MLB divisions.  I’d appeciate a like on my facebook page, as I’ll be posting all of my personal articles there.

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*Photos Via Boston Globe, USA Today, Zimbio, ESPN and Bleacher Report*

 

 

 

 

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