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With the Major League Baseball season starting up, it’s time to look ahead. Following storylines of cheating, shocking moves and changes to the game, it will be nice to finally get back to some normalcy.
Our previews start with the American League East. Last decade we saw each team win the division at least once, after a decade dominated by the New York Yankees. While we could see this again, how will the 2020’s start?
5th Place: Baltimore Orioles
Player To Watch: Outfielder Anthony Santander
Predicted Record: 60-102 (last year: 54-108)
The Baltimore Orioles are in the midst of a rebuild. All things considered, they could look to take a major step forward. Their outfield of Trey Mancini (RF), Austin Hays (CF) and Anthony Santander (LF) is projected to hit 61 home runs and produce 188 runs batted in.
If they can find balance in their line up with power and contact, then this year will be a success and can spend their season finding pieces to their pitching staff.
4th Place: Toronto Blue Jays
Player To Watch: Starting Pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu
Predicted Record: 78-84 (last year: 67-95)
The Toronto Blue Jays are a lot closer to competing than people think: their top talent like third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and second baseman Cavan Biggio have shown they could be future all-stars and veterans like outfielder Randal Grichuk and first baseman Travis Shaw add extra pizzazz to this line up.
The pitching is getting there with Hyun-Jin Ryu in the mix and with a slew young pitching prospects down the pipeline, they could compete in the year or two. Just not quite yet.
3rd Place: Boston Red Sox
Player To Watch: Third Baseman Rafael Devers
Predicted Record: 86-76 (last year: 84-78)
People are quick to write off Boston following the trades of starting pitcher David Price and outfielder Mookie Betts. That may not be the case.
Most of the team’s starting line up from the 2018 World Series champions season is still in tact, including shortstop Xander Bogaerts and third baseman Rafael Devers, who both have been improving. The biggest concerns will be injuries to names like pitcher Chris Sale and outfielder Alex Verdugo, as well as their overall starting rotation.
Despite the change at manager, and the loss of two stars, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Boston compete.
2nd Place: Tampa Bay Rays
Weakness: The Road
Player To Watch: Outfielder Hunter Renfroe
Predicted Record: 92-70 (last year: 96-66)
Tampa Bay could realistically win this division. They’re a good enough team that could beat the number one team on here. Young talent like outfielder Austin Meadows and second baseman Brandon Lowe are now complemented with bats from designated hitter Jose Martinez and outfielder Hunter Renfroe. This team added weapons that will pay off.
The only things stopping them are two questions. First can win on the road? Last year they were excellent until they got on the road. The other: will a clutch hitter step up? In close and late game situations, they weren’t as great as they should have been. These are qualities needed to make the playoffs and make a run.
1st Place: New York Yankees
Strength: Run Production
Player To Watch: Shortstop Gleyber Torres
Predicted Record: 94-68 (last year: 103-59)
After signing star pitcher Gerrit Cole, most people are ready to crown New York as the World Series champions. Looking at their bats and momentum, it’s hard to argue it.
Following last seasons’ run with replacements and manager Aaron Boone’s designation of “savages,” they made a transition from underdogs to favorites.
As one of our own writers, Ab Stanley, has pointed out numerous times, New York’s pitching staff needed more than just one great name; they needed a couple decent-to-good names. Now if someone suffers an injury in the rotation, they’ll be in a very bad spot.
Speaking of, there’s also a constant fear of losing their key pieces again due to injury. If they find a way for lightning to strike twice in the same spot, they’ll more than likely make the American League Championship Series. If not, they may finish in second behind Tampa Bay.