Next is one of the most well-known divisions in the Majors due to its long history and bitter rivalries, the AL East. This year’s standings will be very similar to last years with the Red Sox and Yankees battling it out for first place again. Other than that, there isn’t much to say about the other teams making any real case for even a wild card spot.
1st Place – New York Yankees
Making their power known last year, the Yankees will be back to crushing the ball this year with the addition of one of the best power hitters in the league, Giancarlo Stanton. The bang bros or whatever they will be called with Stanton and Aaron Judge will be one of the most powerful duos baseball has seen in decades, one that hasn’t (yet?) been busted for steroids. Add to that the consistency of Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks the Yanks outfield seems set to dominate. Around the infield the young and powerful Greg Bird will be looking to make his first full year in the big leagues at first, which will show how much longevity his power really has, although he will struggle to keep above the Mendoza line. Ronald Torreyes playing second base looks to hit near .300 this year, another consistent man to balance out the power and inconsistency of Bird, however opening day lists Neil Walker as the second baseman, so we will see who ends up with the full time spot later this season. Didi Gregorius looks to establish himself as a shortstop this year piggy backing off of last years 25 home runs and .287 average, both the best numbers he has put up in a season. Brandon Drury looks to make his spot at third although he doesn’t seem to me to be more than an average at best third baseman when it comes to hitting.
The rotation and bullpen are stocked with young and old arms that all speak to the rest of this team’s mentality, balance. Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, CC Sabathia are to be the rotation’s rocks while the fifth spot will likely be determined as the season goes on although Jordan Montgomery will most likely be that last piece. The bullpen is armed and dangerous with Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle, who can all throw 93+ MPH fastballs with other tools in their arsenal. Expect to see this team at the top and far into the playoffs.
2nd Place – Boston Red Sox
Last years AL East champs are going to take a back seat to the Yankees this year, but they will be contenders all year round and will likely take a wild card spot. Their addition of J.D. Martinez only boosts their hitting prowess as a team, as he hit 45 home runs last year with over a .300 average. Mookie Betts had a 6.4 WAR last year with over 20 home runs and stolen bases, and looks to impress again, although hopefully raising his average back near his career average. Jackie Bradley Jr. finishes out the outfield with a respectable 3.0 WAR, 17 home runs, and .245 average, though nothing to boast about the he could rally around his other impressive teammates and look to post numbers closer to his 2016 year. The buck doesn’t stop there as the Red Sox have impressive youth in the infield with Rafael Devers who has shown power this spring, and Xander Bogaerts who will be just 25 in his 5th full season in the bigs. Rounded out by the vets Mitch Moreland and Eduardo Nunez, the infield is looking to follow some of the best infields in baseball this year. Their rotation is staked with one of the best pitchers in the league, Chris Sale who had a 6.1 WAR, 17 wins, 2.90 ERA and a whopping 308 strikeouts last year. Followed like big names David Price, and Rick Porcello, the Red Sox look to make a case for the top spot this year, although the Yankees will not be slowing down making it difficult to get there.
3rd Place – Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays took some hits this year with Jose Bautista being left as a free agent, although maybe that’s where he should be left for now. Troy Tulowitzki will be out for a good chunk of the season as well leaving the Blue Jays pretty hurt. They did however make some additions with Jaime Garcia and Seung Hwan Oh which helps out their otherwise struggling rotation and bullpen. Marcus Stroman and J.A. Happ could have great years, but also have the potential to be sub par. Their infield is shaping up to be decent this year with Justin Smoak at first, Devon Travis at second, Aledmys Dias, Josh Donaldson at third, and Russell Martin behind the plate. With Curtis Granderson, Kevin Pillar, Steave Pearce, and Randal Grichuk in the outfield there is potential for these guys to string up a solid year. That is what is to be said about the Blue Jays, not more not less, they will be solid as any 3rd place team should be but won’t be reaching for the stars. If Happ, Stroman, Pillar, Granderson, Smoak, Travis, Martin, and Donaldson all have great seasons, the Blue Jays have a chance to be great this year, but that is a lot of maybes to make the team function as a unit.
4th Place – Baltimore Orioles
Honestly, the Orioles could surprise everyone this year. Their field is actually pretty impressive, with Chris Davis, Jonathan Schoop, Manny Machado, and Tim Beckham, Adam Jones, Trey Mancini, Anthony Santander, Caleb Joseph, and Chance Sisco. Schoop had 32 home runs with a .293 average, and has had an impressive spring training with a .321 average with a 1.081 OPS. Machado is a superstar who can hit 40 home runs this year and bat closer to .300. Davis has intense power but can hardly keep above the Mendoza line. Tim Beckman hasn’t fully proven himself yet but has the possibility of hitting .300 while hitting 20 plus home runs which would be a nice bolster for the Orioles infield. Adam Jones, Trey Mancini, and Anthony Santander all have the potential of .300 average and 25 home run seasons which is the speak of solid consistency. If they can manage that along with Davis learning how to hit consistently other than just for the long ball, the Orioles offense has a chance to do some surprising things. Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman are the only rotation spots that kind of matter, and there’s nothing else to talk about when it comes to the O’s. For my dad’s sake I hope they do end up better than what they’re planned.
5th Place – Tampa Bay Rays
Outisde of an outfield with Kevin Kiermaier, Carlos Gomez, and Denard Span, the rays are boasting much. Adeiny Hechavarria is the best bet in the infield who is also having a decent spring training batting .326 average and .884 OPS. Wilson Ramos has the potential of a .300 average which is pretty solid for a catcher. Alex Colome got 47 saves last years and will be a great bolster to the bullpen, however he might not get nearly as many save opportunities this year. If Chris Archer can reign it in, he has the potential to have a truly good year with 250 strikeouts and less than a 4 ERA. The Rays have a lot of work to do if they want to be anything but last, and I just don’t think they can pull it off.