Predicting the American League East

Here is the first of a series of posts where I will predict what will happen in baseball this year. I’m beginning with the American League East.

  1. Bluejays
  2. Rays
  3. Yankees
  4. Orioles
  5. Red Sox

Bluejays

The Bluejays have one of the best lineups in baseball. Vladimir Guerrero is one of the best hitters in baseball. Last year he won a gold glove at first. Vlad will finish second in MVP voting.

The Move to right field should lessen the chances of George Springer getting hurt, but he will spend time on the injured list this year. How many games he misses will obviously impact how well the Bluejays play.

While Bo Bichette’s hitt tool, power, and speed make him an excellent offensive player, he is a below average defender at shortstop.

The additions of Daulton Varsho, Brandon Belt, and Kevin Kiermaier add left handed hitters to provide more balance. Varsho and Kiermaier also greatly improve the outfield defense.

Alek Manoah, Kevin Gausman, and Chris Bassit are an excellent top three at the head of the rotation. Jose Berrios could give the Bluejays an excellent top four, but that will depend on whether he can pitch much more like he did in 2021 than he did in 2022.

Jordan Romano is a solid but not great closer. Erik Swanson, acquired in the Teoscar Hernandez trade with Seattle, has outstanding stuff. I wouldn’t be surprised is Swanson was the closer by the end of the year.

I full expect the Bluejays to add another lefty reliever during the season. Tim Mayza is good, but he’s not enough from the left side.

The Rays

The Rays will come in second, because of the depth in their pitching staff.

Shane McClanahan will win the American League Cy Young award. Drew Rasmussen, Jeffery Springs, and Zach Eflin are all solid starters. When healthy, Tyler Glasnow will give the Rays another elite starter.

In the bullpen, Pete Fairbanks and Jason Adam are a tremendous back-end. Jalen Beeks, Colin Poche, Ryan Thompson, Shawn Armstrong, and Garrett Cleaving are all good relievers.

The keys to the Rays offense will be a return to health for Wander Franco and Brandon Lowe, more consistancy from Randy Arozarena, and Josh Lowe reaching his potential.

The Yankees

The Yankees will come in third, because they will not be very healthy. Carlos Rodon is already hurt and has a long history of being hurt. Luis Severino is hurt again. Frankie Montas will spend much of the season recovering from shoulder surgery.

In the bullpen, Clay Holmes has a history of shoulder problems. Michael King broke his elbow last season. Tommy Kahnle is on the injured list now.

In the lineup, Josh Donaldson and Giancarlo Stanton will both miss dozens of games, they always do. While the Yankees have enough depth to cover for Donaldson’s absences, they cannot replace Stanton’s power when he misses games.

With Aaron Hicks being done as a useful player and Harrison Bader being a weak hitter with declining range in center field, the Yankees need help in the outfield.

The Orioles

The Orioles will finish fourth in the American League East and will be under 500. When Kyle Gibson is your opening day starter, you have a terrible rotation. Yes, they expect John Means back from Tommy John surgery, but the Orioles have a bad starting rotation.

Their bullpen, even after the trade of Jorge Lopez, was very good. Felix Bautista, if healthy, could be an outstanding closer. Cionel Perez, Dillon Tate, Bryan Baker, and Michael Givens are good relief options. But I can’t imagine the Orioles pen will stay effective given the amount of innings they will need to cover because of the bad starting pitching.

The Orioles lineup will be good but not great. Adley Rutschman is a star. He is already the best catcher in baseball. Gunnar Henderson will not be the rookie of the year, but he will have a good offensive year. Ryan Mountcastel and Anthony Santander will hit 30 homers. Sedric Mullins will steal 40 bases and hit 20 homers. But there isn’t enough here for the Orioles to have one of the better lineups in the game. For the Orioles to make a run at contention, their lineup would need to out slug what opponents will do to the Orioles pitching staff, and that won’t happen.

The Red Sox

The Red Sox will finish last in the American League East. I doubt they will even win 70 games.

Corey Kluber was an outstanding pitcher five years ago. Now, he should be a number five starter. Yesterday, he started opening day for the Red Sox and got shelled. I’m sure the cold weather hurt Kluber a lot, but he is simply nothing more than a back of the rotation arm now.

Chris Sale has not pitched much over the last two years. From what I saw during spring training, his stuff is not what it was years ago. I can’t imagine Sale pitching much or very well this season.

Garret Whitlock and Tanner Houck, especially Whitlock, have plenty of talent. But Houck has never pitched up to his talent and Whitlock is coming off of major hip surgery.

The Boston bullpen was terrible last year. While I expect Kenley Jansen to be an improvement over how they tried closing games last year, he is already in decline. I’m also interested in seeing how Jansen, one of the slowest pitchers in recent memory, will adjust to the pitch clock.

Joely Rodriguez, signed from the Mets to be their top lefty in the pen, is already hurt. Chris Martin, signed to be their top righty setup man, will turn 37 in June and has a recent history of arm problems.

Rafael Devers is one of the best hitters in baseball. Triston Casas is a good young hitter with plenty of power and decent plate discipline. Masataka Yoshida will be the American League rookie of the year. His power and plate discipline, especially his opposite field power, will play very well at Fenway and in the middle of that lineup.

But the idea that Adam Duval is going to regularly play center field is absurd. He was an excellent left fielder two years ago, but Duval struggled in center field to start last season for Atlanta. Center field at Fenway, with all the angles, is a much harder position to play. With Yoshida, not known for his defense in left, and Alex Verdugo playing out of position in right, the Red Sox will have a terrible defensive outfield.

Reese McGuire finished last season hot, but he should not be a team’s number one catcher. Connor Wong has little major league experience. The Red Sox will get little from behind the plate.

Christian Arroyo is not a regular second baseman. He is rarely healthy, he doesn’t walk much, and he doesn’t have much power or speed.

The Red Sox are simply a bad team.

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