The 3rd Man In

2014 MLB Predictions: American League East

When the weather starts to warm and the grass starts to green, you know it is right around the time the baseball season begins. This year it might be a bit chilly in the northern states on Opening Day, but who is going to complain with baseball officially underway. The season is never won early, as it is a 162 game journey, but here is how I see the American League East shaping out to be:

  1. Boston Red Sox
  2. Tampa Bay Rays*
  3. New York Yankees
  4. Baltimore Orioles
  5. Toronto Blue Jays

*Denotes Wild Card Winner

From last to first, the Boston Red Sox rallied behind the phrase “Boston Strong” after the tragic Boston Marathon bombing last season. It was a magic carpet ride for the Sox who won their third World Series title in the last decade.

Boston has a strong starting rotation, with an excellent bullpen, and a dangerous lineup again this season. The Red Sox will continue their ride as they have all the ingredients needed to be a championship caliber team.

Right behind them will be the Rays who always seem to travel under the radar. The one thing that holds the Rays back from being at the same level as the Red Sox is their lineup. Yes they have slugger Evan Longoria and up incoming star Wil Myers, but that is not enough to compete with the Red Sox.

Tampa Bay is going to contend for the division crown with their talented starting rotation and solid bullpen, but they will fall just short and end up claiming one of the AL Wild Cards.

This will leave the New York Yankees out of the playoff picture. While they did spend $503 million in the offseason, they did not do enough to improve their team from last season.

They have two big holes on their roster at second and third base after the departure of Robinson Cano to the West coast, and Alex Rodriguez being suspended. Injury prone Brian Roberts will try to fill the void at second, with Kelly Johnson starting at third base.

Their bullpen could also become an issue as they lost legendary closer Mariano Rivera to retirement, and have no one on the roster with any real closing experience at the major league level.

Masahiro Tanaka was a huge signing for the Yanks, but they still have to many question marks surrounding their team. Many are optimistic about the Yankees, but I do not see them being able to compete at the same level as the Red Sox and Rays.

Right behind the Yankees will be the Baltimore Orioles. No one is doubting the O’s offense as they will put runs on the board with ease, but the one thing that will be interesting to see is how their pitching staff performs.

They did go out and sign righty Ubaldo Jimenez to fill an opening in their starting five, but overall their starting pitching, even with the addition of Jimenez, is not that strong.

The Orioles have talent, but their pitching is not up to par with the three teams above them in the AL East. If their pitching staff can exceed expectations, they could be a team that surprises some people.

In last place will be the Toronto Blue Jays. Last offseason the Blue Jays went for it all making numerous deals as they tried to win a World Series title. It failed miserably as they finished in the basement of the AL East, and now are just hoping they can make a playoff appearance.

Health was not on the Blue Jays’ side a year ago, and if they can stay healthy they have the offense to beat a lot of teams. However in baseball pitching wins championships, and Toronto has some question marks surrounding their rotation.

Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey are nice pieces, but they are not front-end starters. The rest of their arms also do little to bring confidence to start the year.

Boston is the team to beat in the East, as they are the most complete team from top to bottom. Baseball is a long season, and Tampa Bay always seems to be right there at the end. This division will come down to the final days of the season, but the Red Sox will be crowned AL East champs for a second consecutive season.

Make sure to check back for the rest of my predictions on the MLB standings for the 2014 season.

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