American League East

Breakdown and Prediction

Welcome to the American League East! The competition in this division runs deeper than most. When five different teams have claimed the title in the past seven seasons, it makes for some exciting storylines. The AL East is composed of Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays. This division is rooted in one of the biggest rivalries in all of sports Yankees – Red Sox. However – headlines have been made by two other teams within the division that shake up that historic battle.

The Rays won the division last season and went on to lose to the Dodgers in the World Series. The Blue Jays and Yankees look poised to take that top spot from Tampa Bay. The New York Yankees won the division is 2019 with over 100 wins. Boston won the division three consecutive season prior to 2019 with an identical record of 93-69 each year. Toronto won in 2015 and Baltimore last won in 2014. So, as you can see this division is DEEP. Let’s dive into it.

Baltimore Orioles seemingly can’t get over the hump in this division. Finishing in last place three out of the last four season, they have been BAD. With that being said, they do have some players that will make some noise this up coming season. Ryan Mountcastle, 24 year old first baseman/outfielder, brought a spark last season. He hit .333 with 5 homeruns and a slugging percentage of .492. He will certainly be a bright spot in the middle of that order. The left side of the infield could very well be two new comers. Freddy Galvis – shortstop and Maikel Franco – third baseman, were added in free agency this off season. They both bring big league experience and are considered serviceable players. The pitching staff will be lead by 27 year lefty John Means. He went 2 – 4 last season with a 4.53 ERA. He could possibly be joined by some familiar names with Felix Hernandez and Matt Harvey both being signed as free agency this off season. Both right handers look to rejuvenate their careers in Baltimore. Sad but true, I see another last place finish for the birds!

PHOTO CREDIT: JOY R. ABSALON

The Boston Red Sox are only a few seasons removed from winning the World Series is 2018, however, this is a totally different team from that squad. The World Series team had Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi in the outfield. Currently this team will play with a combination of Alex Verdugo, Hunter Renfroe, Marwin Gonzales, Franchy Cordero and possibly Michael Chavis in the outfield. A much different look to say the least. Xander Bogaerts holds down the shortstop position and brings tons of leadership with it. The 28 year old is a 2-time World Series champ, 2-time Allstar and 3-time Silver Slugger. Rafael Devers is a young talented third baseman that will only get better as he develops. The pitching staff will be led by Eduardo Rodriguez since Chris Sale will start the season on the 60 day injured list. Rodriguez missed all of 2020 with complications due to COVID-19. In 2019 he went 19 – 6 with a 3.81 ERA. Bobby Dalbec is promising first baseman that showed some pop in the short 2020 season. Red Sox will improve from their last place finish a season ago, but they will not compete for the top two spots in the division.

Photo Credit: Nick Wass/AP

The Tampa Bay Rays over the past three season have improved year after year. In 2018 3rd place, 2019 2nd place and 2020 1st place in the division. They rode a strong wave of talent and chemistry all the way to the World Series. Eventually, they would fall short and lose to the Dodgers. The 2021 team will see a lot of the same names returning, also a long time familiar face coming back. Tyler Glasnow leads a pitching staff that had a team ERA of 3.56 and 1.21 WHIP in 2020. The 27 year old right hander is absolutely filthy. Chris Archer makes his return to Tampa after a two year stint with Pittsburg. However, they did take a step back with the loss of Blake Snell (traded) and Charlie Morton (free agent). Offensively they are a bunch of grinders. Nothing crazy flashy about the order but they get it done. Randy Arozarena, 26 year old outfielder, went on an incredible tear in the 2020 post season. He hit .377, 10 homeruns, .831 slugging percentage and 14 RBIs. Another grinder is Kevin Kiermaier. The 30 year old outfielder doesn’t put up crazy numbers but just always seems to do the job when needed – defensively and offensively. Unfortunately, I think the Rays take a small step back this season and of course still make playoffs and possibly contend for WS again.

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens

One team with the most buzz for 2021 would be the Toronto Blue Jays. They have a young talented squad that showed plenty of promise last season. Making the playoffs but falling to Tampa in the Wild Card round for 2020, the Blue Jays are ready to take the next step. Hyun Jin Ryu is a crafty lefty that will lead a staff mixed with youth and experienced arms. Ryu, 33 years old, went 5 – 2 last season with a 2.69 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. Right-hander Nate Pearson is 24 years old and the future ace of this staff. He has an over-powering fastball accompanied by a devastating breaking ball which he uses very effectively. The list of talented position players on this team is almost unfair. The infielders are sons of former big leaguers. First baseman, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., is a beast – just like his Pops. Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette hold down the left side of the infield and look to build on the chemistry the had last season. Toronto also went out and added probably the best free agent outfielder this off season – George Springer. The 31 year old is a 3 time Allstar, 2 time Silver Slugger and World Series MVP. His addition brings much value to an already talented team. They will be in the hunt and contending for a division title – for sure.

Photo Credit:  Rob Carr

In 2019 the New York Yankees won 103 games and claimed the division. They finished 7 games behind Tampa Bay in 2020 to take 2nd place in the division. Honestly, this team is stacked. First off, the pitching staff is solid. Gerrit Cole is an absolute ace. He is the guy you want at the top of your rotation – taking the ball every 5th day. The 30 year old right hander finished 2020 with a 2.84 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. Yankees went out and traded for one of his former staff mates in Pittsburg, Jameson Taillon. Cole and Tallion will be a great one-two punch. Aroldis Chapman is their 9th inning guy and is one of the best in the business. Offensively they are just monsters. They roll out such a deep line up that can change the game with one swing of the bat in any part of the order. Sanchez, Voit, Urshela, Torres, Hicks and Stanton are just a few names that most other teams would love to have hitting for them. Aaron Judge, 28 year old right fielder, made himself known to all in 2017. He has been a stud ever since. The one move that will make the biggest impact for them is bringing back DJ LeMahieu. He is a career .305 hitter and adds tons of leadership to the locker room. With a pitching staff that is solid and a line up that is relentless – I see the New York Yankees coming out on top for 2021.

This season there is legit three teams that will battle it out all season long for the division title. Time will tell which team puts it all together and finishes on top. A 162 game season is a grind. New York Yankees will be the team to take the crown in 2021, but the American League East will be fun to watch.

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