Toronto Blue Jays
- Notable acquisitions: J.A. Happ, Jesse Chavez, Drew Storen
- Notable losses: David Price, Ben Revere, Mark Buehrle, LaTroy Hawkins
Strength: There is no doubt that the middle of the Jays order keeps the team’s heart beating. There 2-3-4 hitters all hit 39 or more homeruns just a year ago. It’s the closest thing to Murderers row we’ve had in a long time. Navigating through the Jays lineup is a disaster as a whole. Numbers six and seven hit a combined 41 homeruns last year so even if you get through the mashers in the middle, the back end can beat you too.
Weakness: The starting rotation is going to be a big problem for the entire division, including Toronto. They’ll finally get a full year of Marcus Stroman as their ace which is a positive, but question marks swirl around the rest of the rotation. Estrada, Dickey and Happ are solid, but the latter two are pretty inconsistent. Happ, in my opinion, was overpaid. He was brought in as the three or four starter but is being paid like a front end of the staff pitcher. The lineup will provide plenty of run support for these guys, but getting used to that will bite them where the sun don’t shine if the lineup gets shut down.
Team MVP: Josh Donaldson
W/L prediction: 90-72
New York Yankees
- Notable acquisitions: Starlin Castro, Aroldis Chapman, Aaron Hicks
- Notable losses: Brendan Ryan, Adam Warren, Chris Young, Justin Wilson, Rookie Davis, J.R. Murphy, Stephen Drew
Strength: The best aspect of the entire Yankees team is their bullpen. The back end of the bullpen to be more specific. They arguably have the best 7-8-9 in baseball. The Yanks starters didn’t give them any depth last year, something that is likely to happen again in 2016. If that’s the case, the Yanks need to virtually have a perfect ending to every game they have a lead in.
Weakness: The Yanks pause for concern is something that I mentioned in the strengths – the starting rotation’s lack of depth. Most fans figured Brian Cashman and the rest of Yankees management would improve the rotation during the offseason, but that hasn’t been the case. Instead, they chose to improve their bullpen to shorten games. But you still need have starters that can get that insane back of the pen a lead. The rotation is full of question marks. What will C.C. Sabathia provide? Will Masahiro Tanaka sustain another year of good health? Will 2015 sensation Luis Severino be on an innings limit? All questions that will be answered once the season begins.
Team MVP: Jacoby Ellsbury
W/L prediction: 89-73
Boston Red Sox
- Notable acquisitions: David Price, Chris Young, Craig Kimbrel, Carson Smith
- Notable losses: Justin Masterson, Rich Hill, Wade Miley
Strength: Boston has a refreshingly young and talented team that is probably a year or two away from being a championship contender. There are so many names you can rattle off that makes it so exciting to be a fan of the Red Sox, and so painful for everyone else in the division. Betts, Bogaerts, Bradley Jr., Swihart, Rodriguez, Castillo, and that’s just at the Major League level. That fountain of youth is surrounded by a solid foundation of players that will help mold the future of the Sox, but also help them win games now.
Weakness: Yes, I understand they landed David Price, so I’m really talking about the rest of the Red Sox rotation. The rotation after Price has as many question marks surrounding it as the rest of the division’s staffs, minus Tampa’s. Clay Buchholz is bound to get injured at some point during the season and who knows if Rick Porcello decides he wants to use his sinker to his advantage and keep the ball off of Yawkey Way. David Price adds wins to this team, as does the bullpen, but without a consistent rotation, I don’t see more than a Wild Card spot for Boston.
Team MVP: Mookie Betts
W/L prediction: 85-77
- Notable acquisitions: Mark Trumbo
- Notable losses: Steve Pearce, Wei-Yin Chen, Gerardo Parra
Strength: Baltimore’s main strength revolves around three names – Jones, Machado and Davis. Those three alone can carry an offense, and honestly a defense with how well all three pick it on that side of the ball as well. Machado is coming off a monster year and has risen to super stardom like we expected him to. Davis just resigned a long term deal that has him receiving paychecks until the year 2037. After the aforementioned “Big 3” there isn’t much you can smile at on the Orioles roster.
Weakness: I think I’m beating a dead horse but again, another AL East team’s weakness is their starting rotation. The Orioles don’t have a single trustworthy arm in their rotation. Chris Tillman, the O’s projected opening day starter and ace, pitched to a 4.99 ERA last season. Kevin Gausman hasn’t been nearly the pitcher the team had hoped for and Ubaldo Jimenez has been a disaster since arriving.
Team MVP: Manny Machado
W/L prediction: 76-86
Tampa Bay Rays
- Notable acquisitions: Brad Miller, Logan Morrison, Hank Conger
- Notable losses: Asdrubal Cabrera, Grady Sizemore, J.P. Arenciba
Strength: Unlike the rest of the division, the Rays rotation is the strongest part of their team. With 2015 all-star and Cy Young contender Chris Archer heading the rotation, the Rays have a great starting foundation. Then mix in Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly and Jake Odorizzi and you have a whale of a rotation. Problem is going to be run support for this rotation. There may be many occasions where Rays starters get through seven or even eight innings tied or losing because the lack of offense in Tampa.
Weakness: Offensive production is going to be hard to come by in Tampa this season. Outside of Evan Longoria who’s already on the down side of his career, the Rays are going to go through a season long power shortage. Tampa’s lineup is full of guys who are decent MLB players, some who would start on quality teams, most who would not. There are going to be a lot of devastating 2-1 losses in Tampa Bay this season.
Team MVP: Chris Archer
W/L prediction: 74-88
Division Winner: Toronto Blue Jays
Division MVP: Josh Donaldson