MLB Division Preview: AL East

Here at CFC, we’re going to be running our division by division previews starting with the AL East and ending with a playoffs prediction. I’m also hoping to push out my 50 best players of 2012, and that’s a work in progress at the moment. Anyway, here’s my AL East preview.

The AL East. It’s been the power division in professional baseball for a long time. With the Yankees, Red Sox and the emergence of the Rays in the late 2010’s, the AL East has been on top for quite some time. This year is no different and with the addition of another wild card it’s possible that all three of these teams could make it to the playoffs this year. Here’s a breakdown of each of the teams and where I think they’ll be in the standings.

1. New York Yankees

When the Yankees traded for Michael Pineda in the offseason, it was obvious that they were going to have a much better pitching rotation this year. The point that was their weak point last year is much improved, with the additions of Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda. Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova have looked good in Spring training and suddenly the Yankees have depth in their rotation. Add that with their lineup that lead the league in home runs last year and the Yankees are a very dangerous team this year. As long as they stay healthy and the aging, declining play of Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter doesn’t bring them down the Yankees have a very good chance at winning this division.

2. Tampa Bay Rays

Even though it seems like we say this every year, the Rays are a young team that could be real dangerous in the AL. They have a solid rotation 1 threw 5 with David Price at the top. Price had a down year last year but I expect him to bounce back and get more run support than he did last year. The Rays added Carlos Pena to their lineup which is going to be dangerous with young, speedy guys Desmond Jennings and B.J Upton at the top followed by Evan Longoria. The Rays are going to be a very good team and will be doing it on a low payroll as always.

3. Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox are going to be a dangerous team this year and could be a playoff team in another division. They have too many holes to win the AL East, but I still expect them to be in the race at the end of the year. In Bobby Valentines first season, if they stay healthy the top of the Red Sox lineup is dangerous with the return of Kevin Youkilis to go along with Jacoby Ellsbury who will try and prove that last year was no fluke. The Red Sox success will also depend on the success or lack thereof Carl Crawford. If he could settle down and be the Carl Crawford that he was in Tampa Bay then they could finish ahead of the Rays. The Red Sox also will have to depend on some inexperience at the end of their rotation, with Daniel Bard coming out of the bullpen to start this year along with Felix Doubront, who was in Triple A last year. The Red Sox should also have an improved bullpen this year with the addition of Andrew Bailey.

4.  Toronto Blue Jays

It’s a shame for the Blue Jays. They have a MVP candidate every year in Jose Bautista but they just can’t get out of the bottom of the AL East. They’re looking for a big season out of Adam Lind, who’s going to be batting cleanup behind Bautista. They are also hoping for success out of Colby Rasmus, who has the potential to be a very good hitter but they just haven’t seen that yet. The Blue Jays rotation is interesting though, because Ricky Romero could be a reliable number 1 starter. The rest of the rotation is questionable though.

5. Baltimore Orioles

Oh, the Orioles. They’ve had 14 straight losing seasons and haven’t been above last place in the AL East since the Rays had Devil in front of their name. There’s not much to say about the Orioles this year. Their starting rotation is an absolute mess as usual, and their lineup is average at best. The best thing that could come out of this season for the O’s season is that Matt Wieters finally becomes All Star caliber like they thought he would be and that they last the season without trading Adam Jones or Nick Markakis, which could happen if they get a good enough offer.

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