Fierce competition rules American League East in 2017

Posted on Mar 24 2017 - 8:01am by Randy Morgan

Of all the divisions in Major League Baseball, few, if any, can compare to the American League East. The teams, players and history stand alone among others as perhaps the most famous, or infamous, in the league. With a storied past and unparalleled wealth in the owners’ pockets, the competition is tighter than ever. Here’s a preview of what to expect this season:

Boston Red Sox (Projected 1st) | Last Season: 93-69 – 1st in AL East

Trading top prospects Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech for pitcher Chris Sale could be the final piece the Sox need to get back to the World Series. Adding Sale to a rotation that already features two Cy Young winners could prove deadly for the rest of the division. 2016 Cy Young winner Rick Porcello should continue his domination, and 2012 Cy Young winner David Price looks to add to the strong rotation. While Price is still dealing with an arm injury, it appears he will be ready to go for the 2017 season. Former Ole Miss pitcher Drew Pomeranz is also hoping to toss his hat into the crowded rotation.

Offense was key for several big wins in 2016. With stars including Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi manning the outfield, and veterans Pablo Sandoval, Dustin Pedroia and Mitch Moreland ruling the infield, the Sox have a solid combination of youth and experience. The only position the Red Sox may be concerned with is catcher, where Sandy Leon brings his career .254 average to the plate.

Baltimore Orioles (Projected 2nd) | Last Season: 89-73 – 2nd in AL East

While the Orioles lack star power that many teams in the division have, they stand the best chance of defeating the Sox. A rotation of Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Wade Miley and Ubaldo Jimenez should do the job for the O’s. While the back end is a little shaky, Miley and Jimenez have both shown that they can compete in the majors.

Darren O’Day is the star of the bullpen, despite relapsing last season into a 3.77 ERA season. Chris Lee hopes to prove that he belongs with the big boys in the majors as he takes the step from the double-A Bowie Baysox to the Orioles.

Mark Trumbo, last season’s league leader in home runs, and Chris Davis, who belted 38 cans of corn himself, will provide elite power in the middle of the lineup. Manny Machado looks to battle for the most valuable player award, and JJ Hardy should compete for an all-star spot.

New York Yankees (Projected 3rd) | Last Season 84-78 – 4th in AL East

Led by outfielder Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres, the Yankees have a bright future ahead of them. But for now, they may need to rely defensively on a few veterans. The outfield is led by Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Aaron Judge, while the infield is led by Chase Headley, Didi Gregorius, Starlin Castro and Greg Bird. Despite all this talent, catcher Gary Sanchez may soon be the face of the Yankees’ franchise. The biggest question mark for this team is offense, where the Yankees should rely on the power of Sanchez to drive in Gardner and Gregorius.

The rotation is strong, as well, led by Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia. If the offense can provide some runs, the Yankees should be fine. The bullpen is still one of the strong suits for the Yankees, especially after they re-signed Aroldis Chapman in the offseason. Dellin Betances is another stud out of the ‘pen.