2020 AL East Preview and Predictions

After landing the biggest fish in Free Agency this past Winter, the Yankees enter 2020 as the clear favorites in the American League East.  That is not meant to suggest that they have no competition, however, as New York was not the only team to improve during the offseason, with the Rays making their usual under-the-radar moves that will help them win and the Blue Jays made a big splash signing with Hyun-Jin Ryu.  Let’s dive into the predictions.

Photo Credit: New York Post

1st Place: New York Yankees (38-22)
- Additions: Gerrit Cole
- Subtractions: Didi Gregorius, Dellin Betances, Edwin Encarnacion, Cameron Maybin, Austin Romine, Greg Bird, Jacoby Ellsbury, Luis Severino (injury)
38 wins is on pace for about 103 wins in a 162 game season, which is equal to their 2019 total.  Yes, the Yankees got better this offseason with the addition of Gerrit Cole and hopefully will not have as many injuries in 2020.  That said, this 60 game sprint will offer challenges that no one has ever experienced.  One challenge is that their schedule consists of two of the harder divisions in baseball with the AL and NL East.  The Yankees should have a great year and win the AL East, it is just hard to see them winning a higher percentage of games than last year.

2nd Place: Tampa Bay Rays (36-24)
- Additions: Yoshi Tsutsugo, Manuel Margot, Jose Martinez, Hunter Renfroe
- Subtractions: Avisáil Garcia, Eric Sogard, Emilio Pagan, Tommy Pham, Matt Duffy, Travid d’Arnaud
The Rays are certainly the Yankees’ fiercest competition within the division.  Not only did they make a few nice additions to their roster, but their young guys like Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows have another year under their belt and could see improvement.  36 wins this season would be a slight increase in win percentage from 2019, which seems reasonable due not only to their additions but subtractions around them.  Boston got worse and Baltimore is still expected to be terrible.  Plus, if Blake Snell could pitch like he did in 2018, he would join Glasnow and Charlie Morton to combine for one of the better rotations in baseball.

3rd Place: Toronto Blue Jays (30-30)
- Additions: Travis Shaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Shun Yamaguchi, Tanner Roark, Chase Anderson
- Subtractions: Justin Smoak, Devon Travis, Clay Buchholz, Clayton Richard
The Blue Jays have a chance to increase their win percentage by more than any other team in the AL East.  Unfortunately, they still end up in third place.  The youth infusion in Toronto will continue to be fun to watch, with the Blue Jays being led by Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, and Bo Bichette.  The addition of Ryu will help the rotation out a ton.  Last season, the Blue Jays had a record of 38-43 in their last 81 games, up from 29-52 in their first 81 games.  If these improvement trends continue, look for Toronto to have one of the most improved teams in baseball in the shortened 2020 season.

Photo Credit: TSN

4th Place: Boston Red Sox (29-31)
- Additions: Kevin Pillar, Kevin Plawecki, Martin Perez, Jose Peraza, Alex Verdugo
- Subtractions: Mookie Betts, David Price, Brock Holt, Steve Pearce, Andrew Cashner, Rick Porcello, Steven Wright, Sandy Leon, Alex Cora, Chris Sale (injury)
Boston obviously lost a ton of talent when they traded Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers, but it is not like they have no one left.  Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez are a scary middle-of-the-lineup quartet for opposing pitchers, but their starting rotation is horrible.  With David Price traded away and Chris Sale out for the year, Boston will really struggle to get innings from their starters.  This should drop them to a fourth place finish in the division.  This team will also have to deal with a lot of distractions in 2020 after the sign-stealing scandal which will be especially difficult with a new manager in place of the fired Alex Cora.

5th Place Baltimore Orioles (19-41)
- Additions: Jose Iglesias
- Subtractions: Mark Trumbo, Dylan Bundy, Jonathan Villar
The Orioles are a bad baseball team and in for another rough year. Their biggest race this season likely will be for the number one overall pick in the draft.  After winning just 54 games in 2019, they may have actually found a way to get worse.  They traded away both Dylan Bundy and Jonathan Villar.  Bundy was not great but led the team in innings pitched and strikeouts.  He will be missed.  Among his Oriole teammates, Villar ranked third in homers (24) and RBIs (73) , first in stolen bases (40), second in OPS+ (109), and second in bWAR (4.0).

This season will be one we have never before seen - and may never seen again.  The 60 game schedule offers a true sprint to the finish and while anything can happen in a shortened season, expect the cream to still rise to the top with the Yankees taking home their second straight AL East crown.

Article By: Mark Ciano


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