Who is the Real AL East Favorite?
No matter their placement within the AL East standings, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox have been arch-rivals for awhile. In fact, almost every time the two come together, it’s always a must-see event. With the two franchises containing high-powered offenses in 2017, they both have been battling it out for first place throughout the year.
The Bronx bombers, or as I should say the “Baby Bombers” have shattered preseason expectations, as they jumped out to an early lead in the beginning of the season. On the other hand, the Red Sox have been called the early preseason favorite, and are making their move for the AL East division title. As of Monday, the Red Sox stand a mere half a game behind, standing at 57-49, while the Yankees are sitting at a favored 56-47.
The two ball clubs don’t meet again until August 11th, as they will undergo a three-game series. While waiting for their next encounter, lets compare the two AL East contenders, and see who has the upper hand in this rivalry.
The Red Sox lost their powerful superstar David “Big Papi” Ortiz after the 2016 season, which isn’t a benefit by any means. No one really recognized how important losing Ortiz was for the Red Sox until he was officially departed from the franchise. After all, the designated hitter had 25 home runs by the end of last season at the age of 40.
On top of that, Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is hitting a .266 with 12 home runs, and let’s not forget about their rookie stud in left field: Andrew Benintendi. The 22-year old is batting .262 with 12 home runs, as well as 54 total runs batted in.
Over at the “Evil Empire”, Judge has hit 34 home runs, which is one ahead of Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton for the most in the MLB. Coming off of a victory at the 2017 Home Run Derby, Judge has fallen into a little bit of slump, only hitting 3 home runs since the All-Star break.
With the recent addition of Todd Frazier at third base, the Yankees have attempted to add the appropriate veteran pieces in order to outscore their opponents when need be. Will it pay off? Injuries have been a bother for the franchise all season, but with conservative goals set, the Yankees have a seemingly bright future.
Since the start of 2016, new Red Sox acquisition Addison Reed has been one of the most effective pitchers coming out of the bullpen. Forging an impressive 2.20 ERA, Reed has averaged more then 60 appearances a season with the White Sox, Diamondbacks, and the Mets. Reed is eligible for free agency after this season, so it will be interesting to see whether the Red Sox will appear interested in re-signing the veteran.
On the other side, the Yankees added Jamie Garcia and Sonny Gray in return for a handful of prospects. The vertebrae Jamie Garcia is 67-52 with a 3.65 era in nine MLB seasons. In the 2017 season, he is only 5-7 with a 4.29 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP.
In a brighter spot, Sonny Gray is a big catch for the Yankees, as he has had an excellent 2017 season so far. Going 6-5 with a 3.34 ERA, Gray will likely be viewed immediately as one of the Yankees top pitchers.
It’s never easy to declare a winner for the AL East, especially when both franchises have surprised the MLB world.
According to Baseball Prospectus, the Yankees contain a 62.5% chance of finishing on top of the AL East, as the Boston Red Sox are projected to win the division crown with an underwhelming 30%.
One thing that fans need to remember is to not exclude the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, and Baltimore Orioles from this discussion. All three of the aforementioned franchises are within striking distance of the AL East lead, and it would be foolish to underestimate them at this point in the season.
The Yankees +115 run differential still towers over the Red Sox +60, and with those numbers in hand, it would be justified to agree that the Yankees have the upper hand at the moment.
The recent trades have yet to pan out for either side, but time will certainly tell on which franchise will own the AL East come September.
Boston Herald Images
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