The AL East – The Enigma

The AL East – The Enigma – by Allyus Fritz

The Boston Red Sox were supposed to have a down year. The New York Yankees have had to endure too many injuries to be able to compete. After overhauling their roster the Toronto Blue Jays became a popular World Series pick for the first time since the early 1990’s.

Then the season started and reality set in. The Red Sox and Yankees are still good regardless of their issues… and the Blue Jays are in last.

This looks familiar.

The division standings are literally in the exact opposite order that many people predicted before this season started. What makes this fun is that any team could still win the division. Let’s talk about each time and try to figure out how they got to this point.

New York Yankees (1st Place- Record: 25-16)

Let’s look at the Yankees DL:

– Alex Rodriguez           Left Hip Surgery

– Derek Jeter                   Still recovering from Left Ankle Surgery

– Mark Teixeira              Strained Right Wrist

– Michael Pineda           Recovery from Right Shoulder Surgery

– Francisco Cervelli      Fractured Right Hand

– Ivan Nova                     Right Triceps Inflammation

– Kevin Youkilis             Lumbar Spine Strain

– Eduardo Nunez           Left Ribcage Strain

– Curtis Granderson     Fractured Right Forearm- recently returned

In addition to all of these injuries, in the offseason the Yankees lost Andruw Jones, Raul Ibanez, Nick Swisher, and Russell Martin. What makes it worse is that the Bronx Bombers didn’t even want to let Martin go- he told them to kiss it and he left for Pittsburgh. Somebody chose the Pirates over the Yankees?

So how are they still winning? One huge reason is that Mariano Rivera is back and might be having the best season of his career. He is 16 for 16 in save opportunties and has a 1.56 ERA. The other reason is that has beens like Lyle Overbay, Travis Hafner, and Vernon Wells are producing like no one thought was possible. If the season ended today, Vernon Wells would be starting in left field at the all-star game. Wells is batting .295 with 10 home runs and 23 RBI’s.

And of course the Yankees still have Robinson Cano, which speaks for itself.

Boston Red Sox (2nd Place- Record: 24-17)

The year Bobby Valentine spent in Boston seems to have been an anomaly. The Sox finished 69-93, which was their worst finish since 1965. Hiring manager John Farrell must have done the trick. The club seems to be energized by a fresh face at the helm. The Mike Napoli signing may prove to be the best free agent signing of the offseason. Napoli’s 34 RBI have been critical in many of Boston’s wins. We’ll see if the bullpen can step it up and make the Sox a legitimate threat come October.

Baltimore Orioles (3rd Place- Record: 23-17)

Many people thought the Orioles making the playoffs last year was a fluke. I think we all can agree now that it wasn’t. Baltimore’s pitching is questionable, but one thing we all know is that they can rake. Manny Machado has been as advertised and Chris Davis has had one of the best starts in the majors.

Tampa Bay Rays (4th Place- Record: 20-20)

The Rays have been vexing this season. The only thing that’s certain is that Evan Longoria is going to have a great season. Longoria is batting ,327 with 9 homers and 26 RBI’s. David Price is now on the DL after posting a 5.24 ERA so far this season. Matt Moore has stepped in as the ace of the staff, already snatching 7 wins and leading Rays starters with a 2.44 ERA. James Loney is now batting .367 and is leading the AL in batting average. Loney wasn’t expected to hit over .250. That’s how strange their season has been. The Rays got Loney because no one else was interested and now he’s overachieving big time.

Toronto Blues Jays (5th Place- Record: 17-24)

I covered most of my thoughts on the Blue Jays season in my last column, which you can read here.  The Jays have run in to a little luck recently, winning four in a row and seven of their last ten. Edwin Encarnacion is now tied for the AL lead in home runs with 11. J.P. Arencibia will most likely be an all-star this season. Hopefully for Toronto fans these are signs of good things to come.

Stay posted.