Here we are: the most important division prediction of the six I’ve done so far. Unfortunately, I do not think the AL East is going to go the Red Sox way, but speaking as a completely unbiased fan I think they will surprise some people. Before I give too much more away, let’s dive into the predictions:
1. New York Yankees
As much as I hate to say it, the Yankees are the clear favorites to win the AL East this year. They have strong players all across the roster, and it’s tough to find a glaring weakness on the team, at least on paper. I feel very strongly that Corey Kluber is going to have a bounce back year, so that should solidify the #2 starter spot. Add in Luis Severino when he comes back, and that’s a solid 1-3. Time will tell to see if the 4 and 5 starters will be serviceable for them, but it’s hard to find too many teams with that kind of depth. Of course, this is all acting as if everyone can stay healthy this year. This team has underperformed in the last three years because of injuries, and it’s possible it happens again, particularly with stars Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. We’ll see if they can avoid the bug this year.
2. Toronto Blue Jays
Adding Marcus Semien and George Springer was a huge gain for this team, and it will be reflected in where they end up this year. They don’t have many weaknesses in the field, but they’re still pretty young, and they could lose some close games as a result of inexperience. Overall, though, this team will be very good on offense. Hyun Jin Ryu leads this pitching staff, but other than him I don’t think they have many other high quality starters. They’ll sorely regret not resigning Taijuan Walker. He looked very good after being traded to them last year, and I think we’ll see more of that with him on the Mets. We’ll see if they make a trade for a starter before the trade deadline.
3. Boston Red Sox
Say what you want, but I really don’t think the Sox will be too bad this year. There are some pitching questions, especially if Garrett Richards can’t stay healthy, but the offense should look very good. Despite a down year for J.D. Martinez, the team still ended up with the this best team OPS in the AL and the best batting average. Bobby Dalbec strikes out a ton, but he can really wallop the ball and I think he may end up with 40 home runs this year, depending on how many games he plays.
As I said before, the pitching is where things get tricky. Will Eduardo Rodriguez be his 2019 self after dealing with COVID and heart complications? Can Garret Richards stay healthy? How well will Nathan Eovaldi pitch? At their best, this is a very good rotation, but the question is: will they be “at their best?”
4. Tampa Bay Rays
I’m fully prepared to eat my words here, but I think this Rays team has lost significant momentum over this offseason. Losing both Blake Snell and Charlie Morton, only to gain Chris Archer and Michael Wacha? I have confidence in the Rays coaching, but only so much. Both Archer and Wacha are past their prime, and they may improve somewhat this year, but it won’t be by much. On offense, they’ve lost Hunter Renfroe, but the rest of the team pretty much remains the same. Randy Arozarena will fall back to earth, but he should still be a good player for them. I’m just not sure if they’ll get the same production they got last year from everyone. Of course, I definitely could be very wrong here, but I see them as either nipping at the heels of the Yankees, or dropping significantly from last year. You might be able to tell which I see more likely.
5. Baltimore Orioles
I’m very excited for the return of Trey Mancini after his bout with colon cancer last year. Other than him, I’m excited to see how Ryan Mountcastle does, and I really want to see Maikel Franco be more of the player he was last year than he was in 2019 for the Phillies. That’s about all I can say about the team, though. They just don’t have enough talent right now to be competitive. They’ve taken a few reclamation projects in pitchers Felix Hernandez and Matt Harvey, so we’ll see if either of them can regain some of their old magic. I see that being very unlikely, though. The rest of the AL East is just too good.
And that’s all of my division predictions for the 2021 season! The AL East should be very competitive outside of the Orioles, and numbers 2-4 could very well end up in any order. But as long as the Yankees are healthy they are the team to beat. Of course, there are always surprises somewhere, and I think this division could hold more of them than any other this year. We only have 9 days to go until the season starts, so I’m sufficiently excited to see how it goes!
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