The countdown to the first pitch of the 2017 season is already ticking away. Only 42 days until pitchers and catchers report to their Spring Training facilities, but who’s really counting? Teams around the MLB have begun to solidify their rosters in preparation for the grueling 8 month season just around the corner. With that being said, it is time to make some REALLY early preseason predictions.
We will begin with a division that people are most familiar with, the American League East. In 2016, the Boston Red Sox ran away with the division in late August, beating out the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays by 4 games. Is it possible that the Sox can repeat as division winners for a second consecutive year in the league’s most competitive division? Here is how I see the division shaping up.
- Boston Red Sox (95-67)
- New York Yankees (90-72)
- Baltimore Orioles (85-77)
- Toronto Blue Jays (85-77)
- Tampa Bay Rays (70-92)
The Bo Sox and the Evil Empire are both primed to take the American League East by the reins. The last time we have seen these two teams at the top of this division dates back to 2009. The MLB is in dire need for this rivalry to be renewed and this may be the season it materializes.
The Red Sox made the biggest move in the offseason, acquiring former Chicago White Sox ace, Chris Sale in a blockbuster deal that involved 4 Red Sox prospects. The addition of Sale makes the Red Sox the most dangerous team in the American League. The pitching rotation, which was a disappointment at times in 2016, will be the Red Sox strong suit come 2017. On top of the improved pitching rotation, the Red Sox have one of the strongest lineups, littered with young talent throughout. The 2017 Red Sox roster is the most talented that we have seen since 2013. Anything other than a division title will be a disappointment to the fans in Beantown.
The New York Yankees were one of the most dangerous teams in the second half of the 2016 season. Stud rookie, Gary Sanchez lit up the MLB blasting 20 homeruns in just 53 games. The 23 year old solidified the middle of the Yankees lineup and gave them some much needed power. In addition to Sanchez, the Yankees signed Matt Holiday who at an old age still puts fear into opposing pitchers. The lineup is going to have to carry the Bronx Bombers because their pitching rotation is lackluster at best. In order for the Yankees to be successful they will need pitchers Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka to step up and perform to their potentials. The mission of the Yankees pitching rotation will be to try to get the ball into Dillion Betances and Aroldis Chapman’s hands with a lead. The Yankees bullpen and their improved offense will lead to a Wild Card spot in the American League.
Both the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays have done nothing to improve their rosters. In fact, both have gotten worse. The Jays lost Edwin Encarnacion to free agency and the O’s are on the verge of losing the league leader in home runs, Mark Trumbo to free agency as well. Their rosters are not nearly as talented as the Red Sox or Yankees and are poised to be mediocre at best.
In the cellar of the American League East comes the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays are the laughing stock of the American League and maybe all of baseball. At this point they should be in the business of selling their talent and stockpiling a farm system that will bring them back to the forefront.
The American League East will be one of the best divisions to watch in 2017. Putting all biases aside, the Red Sox are the most talented team and look poised to be the beasts of the east.