Who will seperate themselves from the pack this year in the America League East? The Boston Red Sox are the heavy favorites so far, but are followed by the always dangerous New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers.
If experts and MLB odds makers are correct, there's really no
reason for the Boston Red Sox to make an appearance until the playoffs
start. Heavy favorites to take the AL
Pennant – +170, twice as chalky as the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers – Boston has built an
incredibly deep roster after injuries derailed its 2010 campaign.
Red Sox injuries along with the strong play of the Tampa Bay
Rays upset the status quo in the AL East last season. The Rays edged the New York Yankees by a game
for the division flag, Boston
seven games back in third. That the Red
Sox managed to hang around in the race as long as they did with Dustin Pedroia,
Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis and Josh Beckett nursing various physical woes
is a testament to how good their roster already was. After adding Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez
and Bobby Jenks to the fold this winter, the sky appears to be the limit for Terry
Status quo will return to the division in 2011, either that
or a few lucky MLB bettors are going to experience quite a windfall at the MLB
futures window. Boston is the prohibitive 1/2 favorite with
the Yankees 3/2. Tampa Bay's
odds to repeat are now the distant third of the group at 10/1.
Tampa Bay Rays (+1000 to win AL East; 84 wins OVER -105)
The loss of three key players is driving the downturn in
expectations for the Rays. It's not
actually who they lost, however, but where one of the stars wound up.
Bay is deep enough in the rotation to make up for losing Matt Garza, and while
they will miss some of Carlos Pena's pop at the plate, the Rays will not miss
his sub-.200 batting average last season.
Both players are now on Chicago's
North Side with the Cubs, and they will be replaced by pitcher Jeremy
Hellickson and DH Manny Ramirez. But replacing Crawford with Johnny Damon isn't
exactly an even swap. Playing against Crawford as a member of the Red Sox 18
times only makes his subtraction harder to swallow.
The rotation is set with David Price heading a cast that is
followed by James Shields, Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis and Hellickson. Assuming good health and Davis not dragging his spring troubles into
the regular season, it's a sound group capable of helping this club be a
The bullpen is not set, not even close, and it's very
difficult these days to handicap a team whose relief corps is a mystery. Manager Joe Maddon has said he will mix and
match until a single arm steps forward to take over closing duties. Jake McGee, Joel Peralta and Kyle Farnsworth
figure to get most of the early work in the 8th and 9th innings; Andy
Sonnanstine will work in long relief and step into the rotation if and when
Maddon is also undecided about his exact lineup, mulling
over catcher John Jaso and right-fielder Ben Zobrist to lead off. Damon and Ramirez will also be up high in the
order as will third baseman Evan Longoria.
Center fielder BJ Upton could hold the key to the offense. Sean Rodriguez and Reid Brignac work the
middle of the diamond at second and short respectively.
The Tampa Bay Rays started the year as favorites in this division, and while they currently share the same number of wins with the leading Yanees, they have lost 3 more games than New York.
While their division rivals rely on offence, the Rays appear to have a more well rounded team, ranking 6th in runs scored and 4th in runs scored against. This being noted, Tampa Bay has gon over in 6 of their last 8 games.
The Rays eagerly await the two scheduled games against the Yankees in mid May, and look to regain control of the AL East.
The Tampa Bay Rays sit three games out of the AL East lead coming into June. They remain a contender thanks in part to their pitching staff. They are yet to generate a solid offensive attack, and the recent injury of Evan Longoria did not help that cause. Longoria does, however, look to return early this month and hopefully his injured side will not hinder him for the rest of the season.
The Rays will start the month out with a three game series in LA and them return east to face Baltimore, Detroit, Boston, and Florida. They currently trail the Red Sox, but will eagerly look forward to their series, as they have defeated Boston in both of their meeting this season (third game was postponed). If Boston can continue it's dominance over the Yankees in their next series (early June) then the Rays/ Boston series will hold serrious weight for AL East standings.
This is a team which had improved in early May, but quickly fell off the wagon. The final weeks of May and early June saw this team on the losing end of series against the Orioles, Tigers, Marlins, Rangers, Mariners, and the Red Sox. While they never were swept, this performance shot their chances of catching up with the Yankees in the division race.
The second half of June saw new life in this team, as they finished with series sweeps over the Marlins and the Astros. The Rays will need to rids this momentum into early July, where they will get the chance to face the leading Yankees with the opportunity to gain some critical ground in the race.
New York Yankees (+150 to win AL East; 91 wins OVER -105)
The failure to lure lefthander Cliff Lee to the Bronx was the biggest news of the offseason. With Andy Pettitte retiring, Javier Vazquez
departing and AJ Burnett struggling through an awful 2010 season, the New York Yankees
definitely could've used a rotation upgrade.
Still, this a team that won 95 games and made it to Game 6 of the ALCS
before its 2010 campaign ended, so brushing New York off would be a mistake.
Burnett has looked good this spring and if he can return to
even close to his 2008-09 form, it gives manager Joe Girardi a good top of the
rotation with Burnett joined by CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes.
Girardi also has some depth here with youngster Ivan Nova
plus veterans Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon vying for the last two slots in
the order. Expected to begin the season
in Triple-A, Mark Prior could also eventually be in this group.
The end of the bullpen is in excellent shape with the Yanks
signing Rafael Soriano away from the Rays after he saved 45 with a 1.73 ERA in
2010. Soriano will set things up for the
great Mariano Rivera. How the rest of
the pen settles out remains to be seen, though Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan,
Sergio Mitre and David Robertson should make up the bulk of the middle-inning
The everyday lineup remains one of the best in the game and showed
that in 2010 with an MLB-best 859 runs (5.3 per game). The biggest change is Jorge Posada assuming
most of the DH chores now against right-handed pitchers with Andruw Jones inked
to face southpaws. Catcher might be the
weakest link in the chain with Russell Martin the starter and Francisco
Cervelli eventually his primary backup once Cervelli returns from a foot
Last year's infield returns intact with Mark Teixeira,
Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez around the horn. Leftfielder Brett Gardner could be the real
key to the lineup. Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher in center and right round
out an outfield without much depth.
The New York Yankees currently lead the AL East with a 14-9 record. At the moment the Yank's defesive front has made them a good pick for the "under". This being said, their offence currently ranks first in the MLB averaging 5.6 runs per game.
This team is being led by Alex Rodriguez, who started the season off with bang, but who's stats have since fallen after going 0-5 in his last game against Toronto.
They currently sit above the Tampa Bay Rays, who they face twice on May 16th and 17th as they battle for the top spot in this division.
The New York Yankees enter June with the lead in the AL East, but should not get to comfortable with that position as they enter a three game series against rivals Boston. The Yanks hold a 1 game lead over the Sox, but truth be told, the boys from Boston have owned the Bronx Bombers all season long, taking 5 wins in their 6 meetings.
On the positive note, the Yankees entered April as a "hot and cold" team, and April proved to be a hot month for the boys, as their bats kept cracking. They continue to lead the league in Home Runs, and captian Derek Jeter is starting to heat up as well.
Jeter, the future Hall of Famer, is also nearing the 3000th hit mark, and he is as motivated as ever to connect.
At the time of writing, the Yankees are 6 for their last 7 games, and they will take this record with them heading into Boston to defend their spot at the top.
The Bronx Bombers hold on to the #1 spot in the AL east, and maintained their top rating in the Power Rankings. They went 18-8 for the month of June, and while they are a few games ahead of the Red Sox in the division, the Boys from Boston handed the Yankees three of their June losses. This gives the Yankees an embarassing 1-8 record to their biggest rivals for the season.
If there is one thing the Yankees should be greatful for, it would be inter-league play, as now hold a 13-4 record against National League teams. Strangely enough, as far as division play is concerned, the Yankees have a 13-12 record. While 8 of these losses were all to the Red Sox, this points out that while the Yanks' lead the AL East, they only sport the 3rd best record in the division, and in a division of 5, thats nothing to be proud of.
New York will likely enjoy their postition for most of July, as they face a relatively light schedule. But August is coming quickly, and with it comes two series against Boston. The Yankees must figure out the Sox unless they want to make it 1-14 against their foes.
Boston Red Sox (-200 to win AL East; 95 wins OVER -115)
As good as New York's
offense was in 2010, Boston's
lineup is poised to be even better. The
Red Sox weren't far behind New York's output
last season, scoring 818 times and ranking second in the AL with 211 homers.
Not bad for a lineup that missed Pedroia, Youkilis and
Ellsbury for around 280 games combined.
Manager Terry Francona's biggest problem this offseason and
spring was finding a leadoff hitter.
Neither Pedroia nor Crawford really like to bat first, so Francona has been
using shortstop Marco Scutaro in the role a lot. The exact batting order could shift a lot
during the campaign with Francona trying different pieces at the top as well as
trying to split up his excess of lefthanded hitters (Crawford, Gonzalez,
Ellsbury, JD Drew and David Ortiz).
The Red Sox skipper does at least know how is starting
rotation will come out of the chute. Jon
Lester, the only lefty in the group, will start things off followed by John
Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Francona's first option should one of those
fail is veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.
Jonathan Papelbon is the closer, for now. The impetuous righthander is coming off his
worst season statistically and having a very inconsistent showing during spring
training. If he's on, it makes for a
very strong bullpen that is complemented by Jenks, Daniel Bard, Dan Wheeler,
Dennys Reyes and Matt Albers.
Lackey and Beckett collectively hold the key to how far this
team goes in 2011. There is depth in the
lineup and what appears to be a strong bullpen.
Lester and Buchholz are good enough, but they can't carry the rotation
again if Lackey and Beckett aren't in form for one reason or another.
The Red Sox sit at the bottom of the division, mostly inpart to a weak start. The Fans at Fenway are notorious for their team pride, but at 11-14 the Sox are giving them nothing to cheer for.
Veteran Kevin Youkilis leads the team in RBI's and home runs, but his effort has not been enough to brig this team into the + .500 winning column.
Pitcher John Lester has been pulling through for Boston, and the managers can only hope that their depth in the bullpen can eventually return this team to the glory it once had.
Going 9-4 in their last 13 shows that this team has some promise, and with the season still young, expect Boston to improve.
Wow, Boston's April Update started out by stating that Boston was at the bottom of the division. They now sit one game behind the leading Yankees. Even better, they will face their rivals the first week of June.
The Red Sox have owned the Yankees this year, beating them 5 of 6 times. Boston will send Lester, Wakefield, and Beckett to the mound in this series, and this could give Beckett (2.01 ERA) his third win over the Yanks this season. This series should push the Sox to the top of the AL East.
Not only is their pitching looking good, but David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez continue to lead the team's batting squad, who rank 4th in runs, 3rd in league batting average, and 2nd in On Base percentage.
This team was off to a rough start this season, but they are starting to look like the Boston Red Sox that we have become accustomed to seeing in the past few seasons. As the Sox will face most of the AL East teams in early June, the Red Sox can realy mix things up as far as standings go, and also provide bettors a common denominator to use when comparing these teams.
You have to feel sorry for the Red Sox at this point. They have absolutely dominated the division leading Yankees all season long, yet remain in second place. The first half of June saw the Red Sox only fall twice, and at the time, their Power Ranking had risen to First. Hot on the Yankees heels, the Sox begain to skid as they lost the final three series of the month to the Padres, Pirates, and the Phillies.
Boston now leads the league in runs, with 432, knocking the Yankees into second place. Boston also leads the league in it's batting average and on base percentage. Boston also has the best division record, going 18-9 against their AL East competition.
The Red Sox are already looking foward to August, where they will have two series against the Yankees. If they can keep the race close through July, there is no reason to believe they can catch the Bronx Bombers by the end of August.
Toronto Blue Jays (+1500 to win AL East; 76½ wins OVER -125)
The Jays surprised a lot of people when they slugged their
way to 85 wins in 2010. Toronto should still be at or near the top of
the majors in home runs, and if new field boss John Farrell can work some magic
with the pitching staff, especially in the bullpen, the Blue Jays could
surprise again in 2011.
The question is can they absolutely shock the big leagues by
finishing above third in the AL East?
Jose Bautista leads the Canadian mashers at the plate,
though he can't be counted on for another 54-HR campaign. His move to third base full-time will also be
something to watch on defense. Adam
Lind, Aaron Hill and Yunel Escobar complete the infield from first to short.
Bautista's move to the infield and the trade that sent
Vernon Wells to the Angels means a new look in the outfield from Opening Day
2010. Travis Snider will move around to
right field now with newcomers Juan Rivera and Rajai Davis in left and
center. Once his foot heels, Scott
Podsednik will serve as the primary outfield reserve.
Farrell, the former pitching coach in Boston, has depth in his starting rotation
and that has seen some of the biggest battles so far in spring training. Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow and Brett Cecil
will lead the group while Kyle Drabek, Jo-Jo Reyes and Jesse Litsch fight for
the final two slots in the order.
There was also supposed to be a battle this spring for the
closer's spot, but injuries have all but handed the job to Jon Rauch. Stepping into the closer's role because of
injuries is nothing new for the 6-11 righthander who started last season as the
Twins' closer when Joe Nathan came up lame.
Frank Francisco and Octavio Dotel have been hampered by
pains this spring and remain doubtful for Opening Day. Jason Frasor and Carlos Villanueva figure to
be the primary setup arms to begin the year, with lefty Marc Rzepczynski also
part of the relief plans.
The Blue Jays sit in the third position, and at the time of writing are coming off of a 5-3 win over division leading New York.
Toronto ranks 5th in the league for average runs per game, and have fallen "over" in four of their last 6 games. While they have a balanced field unit, most of their power lies in their batting cage, led by veteran Jose Bautista.
They will face the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays all in the upcoming month for a chance to improve thier current position. However, with the offensive powerhouses in New York and Tampa Bay, the Blue Jays will be happy to remain third.
Toronto has fallen into fourth place in the AL East. Entering April, the Blue Jays were hot at the plate, but they have cooled off to a degree. Right Fielder Jose Bautista leads the brigade with 20 home runs, and leads in RBI's and runs as well. His help has lifted the Blue Jays to the 4th best batting average in the Majors, but when you share a division with the 3rd and 2nd ranked teams, the Yankees and the Sox, 4th doesn't always cut it.
After the Yankees take their shot at the Red Sox, the Jays will get their trun. No matter how the Sox and Yankees series plays out, the Jays will have a chance to gain ground in the division. This year Boston and the Jays have split the victories in their six meetings, and in their last two game series Toronto took both wins. Everything is playing in the Jays favor to advance in the AL East.
Toronto remains in fourth position, but has ended the month on a sour note. While they did manage to sweep the Cardinals, they have lost 14 of their last 21 games. With the Phillies, Boston, and Cleveland on the horizion, don't look for this team to improve it's record in July either.
On a positive note, Jose Bautista has gotten the most votes so far for the MLB All-Star game, but this has no effect on his team, as the slugger has tried his best to carry the Jays all season long, and it's just not enough.
Baltimore Orioles (+2500 to win AL East; 76½ wins OVER -120)
What exactly did Buck Showalter do to get the Baltimore Orioles turned
around at the end of last season after the club struggled so badly under both
Dave Trembley and Juan Samuel? If
Showalter knows, he's not saying and instead probably bottling his magic elixir
to use again in 2011.
went 34-23 the final two months under Showalter after beginning the season with
just 32 wins in its first 105 games. His
arrival on the top step had an immediate impact with the O's winning nine of
the first 11 games. The offense averaged
4.1 runs per game while the mound allowed 3.7 under Showalter. That's about a half-run more per game for the
Orioles and over 1.7 fewer runs per contest for their opposition before he took
The former Yankees and Diamondbacks skipper has good young
arms to build a rotation for 2011 and beyond. Jeremy Guthrie, now 32, is the
veteran of the group that will include Brian Matusz (24), Brad Bergesen (25),
Jake Arrieta (25) and Chris Tillman (23).
Justin Duchscherer could bump one of the young arms once he rehabs his
hip, and keep an eye on 23-year-old southpaw Zach Britton who has been putting
on a show this spring.
Showalter's bullpen remains unsettled though he does have a
lot of experience to draw from for closing duties between Kevin Gregg, Mike
Gonzalez and Koji Uehara who should settle in with 9th-inning duties
The Orioles also brought in a couple of veteran sluggers to
help an offense that finished 13th in the AL in scoring and 10th in home runs. Vladimir Guerrero and Derrek Lee will need to
add 45-50 homers and 175 RBI to the ledger if Baltimore is going to step out of the AL East
basement for the first time since 2007.
Two more crucial components to the offense will be second
baseman Brian Roberts and catcher Matt Wieters.
Roberts was limited to 59 games in 2010 due to a back injury, and he'll
need to set the table at the top of the batting order. Wieters, the fifth overall pick in 2007, is
being counted on to enjoy a breakout campaign in 2011.
This haven't been looking so good for the Orioles lately. Yes, they have won 3 out of their last 4, but as they rank fourth out of five in the AL East.
The Orioles sit 5-12 in their last 17 games and are close to falling to the bottom of the division. While they have had success with Zack Britton on the mound, they hope that their bullpen can muster up somthing, and start wining games.
The Orioles continue to struggle, which seems odd for a team ranked 7th in the Majors in the second week of the season (ranked 9th in the first week). After that things started to fall apart, as they dropped as low as 26th position and to the bottom of the AL East. For the past few weeks the Orioles have hung around at the bottom of the league, but have recently risen to 19th.
This might seem like an improvement, and they remain just 5 games out of first place in the AL East, but Baltimore has scored 59 runs less than the AL East's 4th place Blue Jays. This is a team that had promise, and can still turn things around, but truth be told, it is not going to come easily.
They open June against the Oakland A's, a team that swept them already this season. With only 3 wins in their last 10 games, the boys from Baltimore must grab a win here before they dig themselves a hole any deeper.
The Orioles did pick up one series sweep in June to the Oakland A's, but thats about the only positive thing there is to say about their month's performance.
They sit firmly in last place in the AL East, and with the Texans and Boston next on the slate, look for this team to just fall further and further out of the race.
AL EAST Projected Order of Finish
2. New York