Being arguably the best all-around division in baseball, the AL East is already setting up to be a fun ride throughout the 2017 season, through roughly 24 games. Currently the Baltimore Orioles are peaking early with a 15-8 record, tied with the New York Yankees. The Boston Red Sox have limped so far to a 13-11 record to begin the season, alongside the Tampa Bay Rays at 12-14. Who knows what direction the Toronto Blue Jays will be headed towards when the All-Star break and trade deadline approach as they are off to a dreadful 8-17 start. Is the end of April too early to count a team out?
All 32 MLB teams are dealing with some sort of ailment, whether it be starting pitching, relief pitching, a starting position player, or just any player providing depth to a team. When you are in a division such as the AL East though, the injuries and absent players seem to be magnified. The Toronto Blue Jays have begun the season missing a healthy Josh Donaldson for majority of their games, and also have injuries to J.A. Happ and Angel Sanchez. The Boston Red Sox still have David Price on the shelf for the foreseeable future with an elbow strain, and also are missing Pablo Sandoval, Brock Holt, Tyler Thornburg, and Carson Smith. The New York Yankees recently welcomed Didi Gregorius back to the lineup, and are also anxiously waiting the return of their young power hitting catcher in Gary Sanchez. The Tampa Bay Rays still await the return of catcher Wilson Ramos, whom they signed to a 2-year contract in the offseason with a pre-existing injury (torn ACL) which he suffered when he was with the Washington Nationals last year. The Baltimore Orioles are without one of the better young closers in the game, Zach Britton, and are also without their ace Chris Tillman as he has recently begun rehab starts to make his way back to Baltimore.
With all the seemingly early injuries to key players to each team, the question remains; is there a favorite for this division right now? Sure the Boston Red Sox came in as the favorites for this division, but will their reeling offense continue to miss David Ortiz? The Blue Jays are in a tough spot and one would think they need to get healthy quick to get back in it. The Yankees are young and strong, in the sense that Aaron Judge now has 10 HR’s on the young season, and their pitching has been strong as of late as well. The Orioles hope to continue their success, as they are 8-3 currently at home, and 6-4 in their last ten games. The Tampa Bay Rays look to get better on the road, as they currently sport a 3-10 road record.
With 138 games left, each team looks to balance out their hot streaks, cold streaks, injuries, and consistency to eventually be crowned the 2017 AL East Division Champs. For those who are not crowned, they hope to slide into one of the two wildcard playoff spots, and hunt for October in another fashion. Buckle up AL East fans, it looks to be a hard fought battle for all of these teams.