By: Chandler Ragsdale
The American League East is one of the most historic divisions in baseball, with a combined 40 World Series titles in their history. That makes 40 out of the total 111 World Series ever played.
Two teams, the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, are arguably the two crown jewel franchises in the game of baseball. Both are poised to make World Series runs in 2016. Tampa Bay is expected to finish around .500 at best, and Baltimore (like Boston) is seeking a bounce back season.
Not to mention the Toronto Blue Jays are fresh off of their first ALCS appearance since 1993.
Here’s our predictions:
5. Tampa Bay Rays – The Tampa Bay Rays are coming off of a lackluster season in 2015. They finished 80-82 and fourth in the AL East, only ahead of Boston (which wasn’t saying much with the season the Sox had in 2015). They finished in the middle of the pack in average and home runs. They were also in the middle to top of the pack in ERA (11th out of 30 teams). However, average play will not get you very far in a division like this. Besides Evan Longoria and Chris Archer, this team doesn’t have much wow to them.
It will be hard for them to compete with all four of the other teams in the AL East this season in 2016.
Predicted record: 79-83
4. Baltimore Orioles – The Baltimore Orioles only finished one game better than the Rays last season at 81-81, but I give them the fourth spot over the Rays simply because I feel like this team has more potential for 2016. After a postseason appearance in 2014, 2015 was a huge let down for the Orioles. They under-achieved as a whole team compared to the past couple of seasons.
The pitching staff as a whole had an ERA of 4.05 and they hit right at .250 as a team also. They did finish in the top 10 of the MLB in runs, and they finished in the top half of fewest runs allowed.
However, it goes to that again mediocrity will not cut it in this division.
The Baltimore Orioles are slightly more mediocre than the Tampa Bay Rays, and that’s what separates them from 5 and 4. The brand new addition of Dexter Fowler could also have a big impact of this team, but we will have to wait and see.
Predicted record: 82-80
3. New York Yankees – The New York Yankees always are competitive, whether they have an appealing roster or not. With all of their money it’s kind of hard not to. The major strength of this baseball team is obviously the bullpen. Especially considering that they added Aroldis Chapman this offseason. That gives them 3 great arms in their bullpen (Chapman, Andrew Miller, and Betances).
Their veteran, seasoned lineup also exceeded expectations last season. But you have to wonder how long this lineup can produce at that rate. They have an average starting rotation, assuming that CC Sabathia comes back and is a little like his former self. Overall the Yankees have a solid team, but I don’t see this lineup doing enough to put them over the top and back into the postseason.
Predicted record: 84-78
2. Boston Red Sox – The Boston Red Sox had a horrific 2015, which was mainly due to a poor pitching staff. Boston finished 25th in the league in ERA, which will not get you anywhere as a baseball team. The one thing they mainly lacked was a flat out ace at the top of their rotation, which they now have in the form of David Price.
They hit pretty well as a team, but they couldn’t score enough to overcome to horrible pitching that they were having. With all of the young talent they have, such as Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Blake Swihart, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Travis Shaw, this team has no ceiling for the future.
With Rick Porcello and Joe Kelly starting to figure things out, the Red Sox can improve dramatically this season. Not to mention if Clay Bucholz can channel is inner Clay Bucholz from old and throw for 15 wins and an ERA around 3. With this pitching staff improved, I see no reason why Boston can’t have a bounce back season and finish in the top tier of the division.
Predicted record: 88-74
1. Toronto Blue Jays – The Toronto Blue Jays shocked many people last fall with going to the ALCS and almost advancing to the World Series. They turned some heads by getting some BIG names at the trade deadline, like David Price. The real one no one saw coming however was Troy Tulowitzki.
He fit in perfectly in a high-powered Toronto offense who scored the most runs by far in the league last year. I believe that that lineup will continue to soar in 2016, however I’m not so sure about the pitching staff. They had a team ERA of 3.80 last year which is pretty good, but with David Price now in Boston, who will they turn to at the top of their rotation?
Marcus Stroman is definitely a great young talent who can take the helm of this rotation and give them what they need. But what about the other 4 slots in the rotation? That is the main question going into 2016 for the Blue Jays, but with the offense that they have, I see them taking the AL East crown in 2016.
Predicted record: 91-71
*All stats and info from: www.mlb.com
(Editor’s Notes: The 1994 World Series was never played due to a strike.)