AL East Up For Grabs; Who Will Prevail?

We’re a fourth of the way done with the 2014 Major League Baseball season and there is no way to tell who’s going to win one of the better divisions of the last couple of decades. The Yankees half a half game lead on Baltimore, a one game lead on Toronto with Boston and Tampa Bay rounding out the division.

Let’s start with the team currently in first, the New York Yankees. The injury bug has bit every team, the Yankees included. The Bombers have lost Ivan Nova for the entire season to, shocker alert, Tommy John surgery, CC Sabathia with a knee injury, Carlos Beltran with a elbow injury, and Big Michael Pineda with a back injury. The offense is in the top half of the league in most of the bigger statistical categories but in the bottom half in all the major pitching categories. They’ve been lead by there 2 rookies, Masahiro Tanaka and Yangervis Solarte, and there 2 veterans Mark Teixeira and Brett Gardner. The Starting Pitching is a major question going forward if CC and Big Mike don’t return to full strength.

The Baltimore Orioles, just got one of there best players in Manny Machado back. Even with Manny back, the O’s only have 1 player hitting over .300 (Matt Wieters) but he’s only played 26 out of the 42 possible Baltimore games. The O’s, simply put, have been average with everything they’ve done. They are one of the better fielding teams but when guys like Chris Davis, Manny Machado, and Matt Wieters are spending time on the disabled list, you’re going to miss a huge part of your offense. Baltimore, just like the whole rest of the division, is in need of another starting pitcher.

The only team, to this point with a positive run differential, is the Toronto Blue Jays at +7. This year, there have been glimpses of the team we expected Toronto to be when they assembled pieces like R.A Dickey and Jose Reyes before the 2013 season. They’re fourth in baseball in runs scored, second in home-runs, and second in slugging percentage. Other than Mark Buehrle, Blue Jays pitching has been atrocious, as he’s the only one with a sub 3.00 ERA. Relievers included. If guys like Edwin and Jose, who both have very low averages, start hitting more this team could be very dangerous. But I’m beating a dead horse: THEY NEED MORE PITCHING.

After getting swept by Detroit in a 3 game series and being outscored 13-3, the Red Sox have fallen 3 games under .500 at 20-23. What was suppose to be a potent offense in Boston has been simply sub-par up to this point. 15th in runs scored, 22nd in batting average, 21st in home-runs and the list goes on. 27 out of 43 games played a Boston starter has given them a quality start and even there bullpen has been relatively good. Like New York and Toronto, they’ve had an ace who’s dominated all year in Jon Lester. Although his record isn’t indicative of that, he’s 89th in run support and the Sox offense has given him less than 3 runs a game, 2.89, to be exact.

The bottom of the division is occupied by the Tampa Rays, who was my favorite prior to the start of the season. The pride and joy of Tampa has always it’s pitching staff. This season, it’s been a weakness to cellar dwelling Rays. Matt Moore was struck by the plague known as Tommy John and Alex Cobb has already seen a stint on the 15-day disabled list. Former Cy Young David Price has only 5 of 10 starts considered quality and has already allowed 11 home-runs in 10 starts this year. His career high is 22 and that was in 34 starts! Not only is Price struggling, but so are guys like Chris Archer who was suppose too take that next step this year. The acquisition of Grant Balfour to close games hasn’t worked out for Tampa either. He’s allowed 26 base-runners in only 16.1 innings pitched and although he’s only blown 1 save, he has a +6 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP. You want to talk about sub-par pitching? The Rays offense has nobody with more than 4 home-runs and nobody with more than 9 stolen bases. Not very diverse, nor very effective.

My guess? Only ONE AL East team gets a playoff bid. Too many other AL teams that are good and no two teams seem destined to run away with the division. Everybody needs something to take the next step, but that something may simply just be players returning from injury or some teams making a splash with there front office making a trade.

AL East Power Rankings

  1. Baltimore Orioles
  2. New York Yankees
  3. Toronto Blue Jays
  4. Boston Red Sox
  5. Tampa Bay Rays
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