The AL East may be the toughest division in Baseball but it’s also the most predictable according to Al Dannity.
An extra level of certainty Some divisions in MLB have likely contenders, others have red hot favorites, the American League East has two teams who we know will be playing October Baseball. Previewing or predicting how the AL East will go this year is a little different to other divisions in Baseball. Sure the other leagues have their own hierarchies but none have the same two-tier structure as can be found here. Anyone keeping an eye on MLB odds should look no further than the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees when considering a possible winner. The talent gulf between the big two and the rest is such that it’s not even worth considering a dark horse run by the likes of Tampa Bay this season.
Defense vs Everything The title race will come down to Boston’s hitting. It’s clear the Red Sox have the superior defense with a pitching lineup that includes Josh Beckett, John Lackey and John Lester. The Yankees however are no slouches defending and appear to have a more rounded team on both sides of the ball, helped in no small part by the free agent signing of Curtis Granderson this off-season. Boston has players with the potential to put up good batting numbers such as Kevin Youkilis, Victor Martinez and, so long as 2009 was only a blip, David Ortiz. Nowhere within their lineup however does Boston possess the kind of power that can compete with the likes of A-Rod and Mark Teixera. Also don’t forget that while Boston have the advantage when it comes to starters and have Jonathan Papelbon as a closer, their bullpen doesn’t trump what New York can do late in the game with David Robertson and Mariano Rivera. Both teams could win 100 games but when you look at Sports Interaction’s MLB betting odds it’s no surprise that the Yankees (-200) are favorites to win this division.
Three teams that are the case for floating realignment There would be no discussion ever about an idea as radical, and to a degree insane, as floating realignment of divisions were it not for the American League East. For the Orioles, Rays, and Blue Jays there’s not a lot to look forward to in 2010 or any year for that matter. For the foreseeable future this trio is stuck here and this year promises to be no prettier than any other. Tampa Bay deserves the most sympathy of the bunch. The Rays have, according to Baseball Prospectus, the 5th best team in the Major Leagues. Tampa Bay is loaded with talent like BJ Upton and Pat Burrell. Unfortunately that won’t be good enough with Boston and the Yankees and Tampa could well have a better record than either the AL Central or West winners and still miss the playoffs. With a hungry young outfield the Orioles look more likely than the Blue Jays to take fourth place, so sorry Toronto but somebody’s got to come last.
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