The AL East is always very talented, and normally has the teams in the MLB, but no recent AL East has been quite as stacked as the division will be this year. There are four teams, (you can probably guess which team is left out) that will definitely be competing for a playoff spot. Even the lowly Orioles are have a pretty good looking future ahead of them. Tons of people compare these teams, and debate who will finished first second and third, so here’s the position by position breakdown of the five teams.
1. Matt Wieters (Orioles), 2. JP Arencebia (Jays), 3. Russell Martin (Yankees), 4. Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Red Sox), 5. Jose Molina/Jose Lobaton/Stephen Vogt (Rays)
Explanation: For such a stacked division the catchers really aren’t too impressive. The Rays can’t decide who to make their catcher, and Saltalamacchia and Russell Martin have REALLY struggled offensively. While JP Arencebia hit 20 homeruns in his rookie campaign he still hits for a very poor average, and with him it’s often a home run or strikeout. Matt Wieters is the only consistent hitter of the catchers in the AL east, although he isn’t as good defensively as the catchers ranked below him.
First Base: 1. Adrian Gonzalez (Red Sox), 2. Mark Teixeira (Yankees), 3. Carlos Pena (Rays), 4. Adam Lind (Jays), 5. Chris Davis (Orioles)
Explanation: Carlos Pena has been amazing whenever playing with the Rays (and not the Cubs), so he may soon overtake Teixera for that second spot in the near future. For now Gonzalez is far better than anyone of the other first baseman, and Chris Davis is significantly worse than both Lind and Pena.
Second Base: 1. Robinson Cano (Yankees), 2. Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox), 3. Kelly Johnson (Jays), 4. Sean Rodriguez (Rays), 5. Brian Roberts/ Robert Andino (Orioles)
Explanation: Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia are unquestionably the two best 2nd basemans in the MLB. Cano has been a better hitter than Pedroia throughout the last two years which is why I ranked Cano higher, but they are definitely very close.
Third Base: 1. Evan Longoria (Rays), 2. Kevin Youkilis (Red Sox), 3. Alex Rodriguez (Yankees), 4. Mark Reynolds (Orioles), 5. Brett Lawrie (Jays)
Explanation: The AL east have really, really good third baseman’s. Youkilis and A-Rod are both future hall of famers who are (sadly) getting old. Longoria has as much upside as anyone else in the league, and is now showing why he’ll be the MLB’s best third baseman for years to come. Brett Lawrie also has tons of upside, but hasn’t shown that he can consistently hit well at the MLB level. Then there’s Mark Reynolds. The league leader in strikeouts can also hit home runs, which he does quite frequently throughout an MLB season.
Shortstop: 1. Derek Jeter (Yankees), 2. J.J Hardy (Orioles), 3. Yunel Escobar (Jays), 4. Reid Brignac (Rays), 5. Mike Aviles (Red Sox)
Explanation: Derek Jeter is another future hall of famer getting old, but he’s still having a lot of success at the plate. J.J Hardy hit for a poor average last season, but hit a very impressive 30 home runs. Yunel Escobar is the best defensive shortstop in the AL east right now, and he hit nearly .300 last year. Reid Brignac is a very underrated fielder and can definately hit, while Mike Aviles needs to improve his hitting if he wants to secure a position on the Red Sox.
Right Field: 1. Jose Bautista (Jays), 2. Ben Zobrist (Rays), 3. Nick Markakis (Orioles), 4. Nick Swisher (Yankees), 5. Ryan Sweeney/Carl Crawford (Red Sox),
Explanation: Jose Bautista wins this one by a mile, but it gets close after that. Zobrist hit .269 with 20 home runs, and Markakis had similar stats. Zobrist got the edge because he he has been more consistent throughout his career. Swisher doesn’t hit for a good average but can hit lots of home runs. With the Red Sox Ryan Sweeney is replacing the injured Carl Crawford, but even when he does come back no one knows if he’ll be the “good” Crawford or the “bad” Crawford.
Center Field: 1. Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox), 2. Curtis Granderson (Yankees), 3. Adam Jones (Orioles), 4. Desmond Jennings/bj upton (Rays), 5. Colby Rasmus (Jays)
Explanation: Just like with 2nd baseman’s the AL east has the two best center fielders, with Ellsbury and Granderson. Both were MVP candidates last year, and both are hoping to continue the career years they just had. Ellsbury is slightly better than Granderson because of his fielding, but hitting wise they are very even. After those two come Adam Jones, a very underrated player who is actually an outstanding hitter. If he played for a good team many more people would realize just how good he is. With BJ Upton out Desmond Jennings has been playing center for the Rays. Jennings is a good young player with tons of upside but hasn’t acomplished much in the MLB thus far. If BJ Upton wasn’t injured he’d be ranked before Adam Jones. Last but not least, is Colby Rasmus. He got traded to the Jays mid season last year and has been awful at the plate ever since. He’s still a very good defensive player, but needs to improve his hitting if he wants to be an every day player in this league for years to come.
Left Field: 1. Brett Gardner (Yankees), 2. Cody Ross (Red Sox), 3. Matt Joyce/Desmond Jennings 4. Eric Thames (Jays) (Rays), 5. Endy Chavez (Orioles),
Explanation: Brett Gardner is really underrated. By everyone. His speed makes him a huge threat at the plate because you know that if you walk him he could be on third after two pitches. Then comes Cody Ross who’s looking to find a resurgence with the Red Sox after a poor season with the Giants. With Thames Chavez and the Rays duo you really don’t know what to expect. They are all very inconsistent and may be losing their starting job later this season.
Designated Hitter: 1. David Ortiz (Red Sox), 2. Edwin Encarnacion (Jays), 3. Jeff Keppinger (Rays), 4. Nick Johnson (Orioles), 5.0ndruw Jones (Yankees)
Explanation: The quality of the DH’s in the AL east are not very good. Ortiz is one of the best DH’s in the league, and Encarnacion has some serious power, but outside of those two the rest is very bleak. Keppinger Johnson and Jones are three guys who have been dreadful hitters in the last few years, and are getting one more shot in a starting line up.
Starting Pitchers: 1. Tampa Bay Rays, 2. New York Yankees, 3. Boston Red Sox, 4. Toronto Bluejays, 5. Baltimore Orioles
Explanation: With Shields, Price, Hellickson, Moore and Niemann the Rays have one of the best rotations in the MLB. Moore is showing signs of greatness and is just a rookie, while Shields and Price are already known for being two of the leagues best starters. The Yankees and Red Sox both have good first and second pitchers, but their fourth and fifth pitchers might cause some trouble (especially Daniel Bard and Freddy Garcia). The Jays have a VERY young rotation that could either be awful, or amazing this season. Then there’s the Orioles. When your “ace” is Jake Arrieta, you know you’re in trouble.
Relief Pitchers: 1. New York Yankees, 2. Toronto Bluejays, 3. Tampa Bay Rays, 4. Boston Red Sox, 5. Baltimore Orioles
Explanation: Even with the freak injury to Joba Chamberlain the Yankees have the best bulpen in the AL east — and it’s not even close. With guys like Mariono Rivera, David Robertson and Rafael Soriano coming in as relievers it’s hard to be better than that bullpen. The team with the second best bullpen is the Jays. Improving the bullpen was clearly the main priority for GM Alex Anthopoulos, and he did just that by adding Sergio Santos Francisco Cordero and Darren Oliver. For the Rays the injury to Farnsworth has been tough, but they have been able to get saves by comitee. It’s a different story with the Red Sox, as their relievers have really struggled to keep leads, and have been the main reason for Boston’s early struggles. Lastly there’s Baltimore. There bullpen lacks experience and plain and simply isn’t very good.