Thursday, March 12, 2015

Trying to Predict the AL East

Trying to predict the AL East for 2015 is not easy. There doesn't appear to be a great team and there definitely is not a bad team. You could make a case for each team winning the AL East and for each team coming in dead last. The experts have jumped on the Red Sox as the team to beat. They have had the sexiest off-season. The experts also seem to be abandoning the Tampa Bay Rays as contenders. The Blue Jays season may have just ended with the season ending injury to Marcus Stroman. While Cole Hamels could be the guy to take one of these teams over the top. I decided to look at talent to see where each team ranks in the AL East. I turned to Eric Karabell of ESPN and his Top 250 fantasy players for 2015. I realize that fantasy projections are much different than the pieces you need to make a championship team. However, I do think this can give you to some insight on overall talent on each team.

What We Already Knew:

The Boston Red Sox have the best lineup in the AL East. They have eight position players in the top 250, most of any team in the AL East. Hanley Ramirez leads the way at 24th overall. The question marks are Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo. Betts continues to get praise. One scout says he could be an All Star this year. His 89th overall ranking might be low. Castillo is a big question mark. He is battling injuries right now and there is some concern over his plate discipline.

The other thing we already knew is that the Red Sox have pitching issue. Not one starting pitcher for the Red Sox made the top 250 players. Koji Uehara was the only pitcher for the Red Sox to make the list period. There is a chance the Sox go out and get Hamels or they may have an ace already in their system ready to step up. Keep an eye on Eduardo Rodriguez.

What We Didn't Know:

The Tampa Bay Rays are the most balanced team in the division and might just be the best. Their over/under win total in Las Vegas is sitting at 79. You might want to jump on that.

BostonRankTorontoRankNew YorkRankBaltimoreRankTampa BayRank
Mike Napoli145Russell Martin233Brian McCann188Matt Wieters190Asrubal Cabrera231
Dustin Pedroia75Edwin Encarnacion7Mark Teixeira235Chris Davis54Evan Longoria35
Pablo Sandoval103Jose Reyes44Chase Headley214Steve Pearce187Steven Souza100
Xander Bogaerts163Jose Bautista6Jacoby Ellsbury22Manny Machado110Alex Cobb69
Hanley Ramirez24Dalton Pompey247Brett Gardner81Adam Jones12Chris Archer160
Mookie Betts89Aaron Sanchez213Masahiro Tanaka91Steve Pearce187Drew Smyly167
Rusney Castillo90Dellin Betances105Kevin Gausman228Jake Odorizzi200
David Ortiz58Zach Britton154Jake McGee237
Koji Uehara118Brad Boxberger246
8 Postion Players935 Postion Players1075 Position Players1486 Position Players1233 Position Players122
0 Starting PitchersNA0 Starting PitchersNA1 Starting Pitcher911 Starting Pitcher2284 Starting Pitchers149
1 Relief Pitcher1181 Relief Pitcher2131 Relief Pitcher1051 Relief Pitcher1542 Relief Pitchers242
9 Players966 Players1257 Players1348 Players1409 Players161

BostonTorontoNew YorkBaltimoreTampa Bay
Position Players1st3rd4th2nd5th
Starting Pitchers5th5th2nd3rd1st
Relief Pitchers3rd5th2nd4th1st

The balance of the Rays gives them first place predicted finish followed by the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles and Blue Jays. Marcus Stroman was ranked #168 before he was injured. His presence would have given the Blue Jays the third best starting pitching but it still would have left them in last place in this prediction.

How accurate will this turn out to be? That remains to be seen, but what it does show is that these teams are all bunched up together and it will really come down to who can stay healthy and who makes the best trading deadline moves. Stay tuned.

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