The AL East hasn’t had a back-to-back winner since 2011-12 when the Yankees pulled off the feat. The Blue Jays will look to break that spell this season and not so surprisingly they are favored to do so.
Here are our predictions for the division in 2016:
1. Toronto Blue Jays (96-66)
We’re living in something of a pitcher’s era, but the Blue Jays are getting the job done by mashing the ball. No David Price this year, as he went to the rival Red Sox, but expect the Jays to make a deal for a starter near the deadline if they’re in the mix. Josh Donaldson (41), Jose Bautista (40) and Edwin Encarnacion (38) all finished in the top 10 on the season home run list in 2015 and this year they’ll have get a full season of Troy Tulowitzki at short.
2. Boston Red Sox (88-74)
Gotta love GM Dave Dombrowski’s no-BS approach to this season (assuming it was his order to start Travis Shaw at third over the out-of-shape Pablo Sandoval). The Sox seem like they have decent balance this year. Offensively Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts are the young studs and David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez can all still hit. David Price is the definition of an ace and Dombrowski’s addition of Craig Kimbrel as the closer was the most underrated move of the off-season.
3. New York Yankees (84-78)
The Yankees haven’t had a dominant club in years but unlike the feast or famine Red Sox – they are never flat-out awful. Expect more of the same this year. Their lineup doesn’t scare anyone as they’re relying on the ancient Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez in the heart of their order. Masahiro Tanaka is solid at the top of the rotation – when healthy – and the Yanks’ bullpen will be the best in the bigs.
4. Baltimore Orioles (80-82)
The Orioles are a watered down version of the Blue Jays. Their lineup is tremendous – with home run champ Chris Davis in the middle and Manny Machado, Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo littered elsewhere. But their pitching rotation is brutal with a capital “B.” The Orioles starting staff had a 4.53 ERA in 2015 and they haven’t done much to help ease the pain.
5. Tampa Bay Rays (78-84)
The Rays’ lineup leaves a lot to be desired. Corey Dickerson was a nice pickup from the Rockies but the old Coors Field numbers bump may have played a factor there. Closer Brad Boxberger will begin the season on the DL. Chris Archer is phenomenal as the team’s ace, but he only steps on the mound once ever five or six days.