We simply cannot wait for the new MLB season to start, and we are counting down the days until that very first pitch is thrown. If you are like us and love the MLB, then you definitely need to have a read on below, as we take a look at each and every team from the AL East and analyze their chances for success in this brand new season.
Last season was a year of development for the Baltimore Orioles, especially with the minor league season being cancelled and it projects to be another rough year for the O’s who are the only team in the AL East seem to not have a real shot at the division crown. Baltimore is in fact expected to be one of the worst teams in all of baseball, but despite that they still have some really good talent on offense.
Trey Mancini, Ryan Mountcastle, and Anthony Santander are going to be key cogs in their batting lineup but the biggest name and their best player is center fielder Cedric Mullins. Mullins broke out last season, recording 175 hits which was good for a .290 average, and added 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases.
Monday’s are better with baseball 😌 pic.twitter.com/pBNTSr2CI4
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) March 28, 2022
What made these numbers more impressive was the fact that he was moving away from switch-hitting and became a full-time lefty, so now he’ll be even more comfortable this year and I’ll expect even better numbers in 2022. Led by Mullins, the offense will give certain pitching rotations problems but the real reason for the Orioles being so bad will be their own pitching.
They finished 2021 last in the league in rotation ERA and largely brought back that same group. John Means will be the top guy in the rotation, and while he is a capable MLB starter he should not be the top guy in any rotation. If he gets off to a great start in 2022, he’s going to be a prime trade candidate for a contender at the trade deadline. We will keep an eye on their superb prospects like Adley Rutschman and Grayson Rodriguez but this team will once again be the bottom team in the AL East.
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox will enter the 2022 season with lofty expectations after a year of overachievement in 2021. The Sox surprised a lot of people by making it all the way to the American League Championship Series where they lost to the Houston Astros 2-4. One thing that will carry over into this season from last is Boston’s reliance on their batting lineup, which projects as one of the best in the league, to win games.
Back at home tomorrow.
— Red Sox (@RedSox) March 29, 2022
The losses of Kyle Schwarber to the Phillies and Hunter Renfroe to the Brewers will definitely be big losses, but they are hoping the signing of Trevor Story will help make up for it. The Red Sox will add Story to a lineup that already has big name stars like J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Rafael Devers so it will be one of the best in all of baseball. Flipping over to the pitching staff and that’s where all the question marks reside.
The Sox lost Eduardo Rodriguez to the Detroit Tigers in the offseason but are hoping to have a fully healthy Chris Sale in 2022 after missing most of last season with injury. This will be a work in progress all year and because of that I’ll expect the Red Sox to be buyers at the deadline, looking for a few pieces that will street their lineup and aid them in an even deeper postseason run this year. Because of their lineup I like them to finish in the top 2 of the American League East or even win it.
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees had a record of 92-70 last season, which was good enough for 3rd place in the American League East. They then proceeded to have an early exit from the postseason, losing to their hated rival Boston Red Sox in the Wild Card game. The season was a disappointment after the additions of Anthony Russo and Joey Gallo and now in 2022, New York will look to finally put it all together and make a run at another World Series.
The Yankees had a lineup with great talent but a rough stretch in the middle of the year had them finish at the bottom half of the baseball in total runs scored. Bringing in Josh Donaldson in an offseason trade will surely help with the offense, along with bringing back a lot of the main core from last year’s lineup including Anthony Rizzo.
The star player at the plate for the Bronx Bombers is of course Aaron Judge, who up until last week had a few question marks about his aviator the season. That is because of the vaccine mandate for athletes in the state of New York that prevented unvaccinated players from playing in their home games. That mandate has now been lifted and we should expect Judge to put up another monster season at the plate in a contract year.
Today’s special: Dingers. pic.twitter.com/yWSHHrwkdN
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) March 29, 2022
It’s also a possibility the Yankees just work out an extension with him because he’s simply just one of the best players in all of baseball. He gets on base at a high rate, has some of the best raw power in the game and is a very underrated outfielder. If the offense is clicking on all cylinders and hitting their potential, then this team will go very far. That is because of the elite pitching staff they will be rolling out in 2022 led by Gerrit Cole.
This unit finished last season top 10 in rotation ERA, which is even more impressive considering their home stadium is tailored to hitters. Behind Cole, the Yankees don’t have a true #2 guy but have a lot of serviceable arms like Jordan Montgomery and Luis Severino. If Severino can finally shake the injury bug that has plagued him the past few seasons, it would do wonders for this pitching staff because last time we saw him fully healthy he looked like a guy who could be a #1 starter on certain teams.
I really like the talent on this Yankees team and the combination of Aaron Judge and Joey Gallo will produce ridiculous numbers at the plate and being endless highlights. Look for another postseason appearance for New York and depending on what moves their make throughout the year, they can hopefully get back to making deep runs again.
Tampa Bay Rays
Now we get to the team that actually won the last two American League East titles and that is the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays were coming off a World Series appearance in the COVID-shortened 2020 season and followed that up with the third-best record in all of baseball in 2021 (100-62). Unfortunately, they ran into their red-hot divisional rival Boston Red Sox in the ALDS and were sent home in just four games.
Despite the great season, the Rays’ overall attendance of 761,072 ranked second-worst in all of baseball. It’s shocking considering how good they were and hopefully attendance will be better this year, but that could be a longshot especially considering the near 100-day lockout the MLB had in the offseason. It was also a relatively quiet offseason in terms of roster moves for Tampa but they were able to beef up their starting rotation by bringing in Corey Kluber.
The former Cy Young winner isn’t in his prime anymore, but he still provides much needed depth and experience to a staff that has an unconventional approach. For example, last season Ryan Yarborough led the Rays in innings pitched, making 21 starts and 9 appearances out of the bullpen. The strategy or talent is not a question with the staff, it’s their health.
Getting locked in with Opening Day on the horizon pic.twitter.com/HDpVDsAnmH
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) March 29, 2022
As we enter the season nears, their ace Tyler Glasnow is still recovering from Tommy John surgery and top prospect Shane Bas is also dealing with elbow issues. That leaves the young promising arm of Shane McClanahan as the top guy in the rotation. This whole team’s future rests on Wander Franco however, their second-year shortstop.
As a 20-year old rookie last season he only struck out 12% of the time, which is very impressive considering that’s always a big adjustment for young guys making that leap to the MLB level. Franco took the league by storm in only 70 games last season and if he can make any improvements over the off-season, he can easily become one of the best players in the AL East. The Rays will have stiff competition to defend their back-to-back division titles but they are still very capable and I wouldn’t count this very talented roster out.
Toronto Blue Jays
The 2021 Toronto Blue Jays were amongst the best teams in all of baseball last year, winning 90 games, despite missing the playoffs. The World Series champion Atlanta Braves only won 88 games so it really was just the tough division the Jays were in that left them watching the postseason from their couch. This season is looking bright though for this young, exciting team that was top three in runs scored last season.
The offense did have a big departure in Marcus Semien, who finished third in MVP voting last season. He left Toronto to sign a 7-year deal with the Texas Rangers. His 45 home runs will be missed but when you still have a lineup that boasts Vladimir Guerrero Jr, George Springer, Teoscar Hernández, and Bo Bichette you can overcome this. The one weakness that could become a problem for the Jays’ batting order is it’s handiness.
ALEK-tricity that could power a country ⚡️🇨🇦 pic.twitter.com/ACH5kScz9A
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) March 29, 2022
Their projected order coming into the season has 7 righties and just 2 lefties, so teams can just rely heavily on right-handed pitchers to neutralize them. On the other side of the ball, their rotation once again has a chance to be very solid if not great. Only one of their starting five pitchers (Yusei Kikuchi) had an ERA above 4.00. The rest were pretty dominant and all maintained WHIPs of around 1.20.
Jose Berrios is the ace of the order and struck out over 200 batters last season. At only 27, it’s possible he has not even reached his ceiling yet and I’m predicting he’ll be a strong candidate for the Cy Young this year. The combination of their strong lineup and rotation should see them avenge last season’s disappointments and sneak their way into the 2022 postseason from a very competitive AL East.
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