The Baltimore Orioles currently find themselves in a very good position to win the American League East division for the first time since 1997 as they hold a three-game lead on thee New York Yankees, a four-game lead on the Toronto Blue Jays, a 7.5-game lead on the Tampa Bay Rays, and a 10.5-game lead over the last-place Boston Red Sox.
The Yankees have lost long-time-ace C.C. Sabathia for the season due to a knee injury and will likely lose rookie Masahiro Tanaka for the year as well. Tanaka was by far the best pitcher on the team’s rotation this year, going 12-4 with 135 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.51. The Yankees lost Alex Rodriguez for the year, Robinson Cano signed with the Seattle Mariners this past offseason, Derek Jeter is playing in his final year, Mariano Rivera is no longer with the team, and Mark Teixeira missed a couple months early in the season. Without Tanaka, who knows where they would be right now?
Although the Yankees somehow find ways to win even when you think it isn’t possible, I still think you can take them out of the equation right now. The same goes for the Rays and the Red Sox.
The Red Sox currently find themselves 9.5 games back and eight games under. 500. Considering that they just won the World Series last year, the odds of them making the playoffs this year are slim-to-none.
The Tampa Bay Rays however are a little different. They are only 7.5 games back with a better record of 49-53. They also weren’t the World Series Champions last year, upping their odds just a bit. However, they are one of the hottest teams in baseball since the All-Star break as they have won seven straight games, so it’s likely that they will lose a couple games in the next week or two. Hot teams always cool down.
That’s another thing with the Orioles. Although they are 11 games over .500, they have yet to hit a real hot streak. They did win seven out of eight games leading up to the All-Star break, but that is the hottest they have gotten all season.
That leaves us with the Toronto Blue Jays. In my opinion, they are the only legitimate contender to take the top spot away from the O’s. Consider how they have a lot of talent across the board … and I mean a lot! Last season, they were expected to win the AL East but let everyone down, finishing in last place.
However, this year, some of their big additions have stepped up. Shortstop Jose Reyes and knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey are among some big names that they acquired two years ago. Those guys have maintained their consistent play, but some surprise players have carried the team so far this year.
Outfielder Melky Cabrera came over to Toronto the year following his suspension for PEDs. He did not perform so well in his first year with the Blue Jays but has broken out in 2014, hitting 12 home runs and 52 RBIs with a .311 batting average. Another pleasant surprise for the Blue Jays is pitcher Mark Buehrle, who also came to them team prior to the 2013 season. He had the third-worst ERA of his 14-year career in 2013 but has pitched to a career-high 2.86 ERA this time around.
Another interesting number is that the Orioles and Blue Jays are currently tied for the Major League lead in home runs. It will be interesting to see how this battle goes down; and don’t be surprised if all their head-to-head games aren’t exactly pitching duels.
Isn’t it amazing? Two years ago, if you would have told me that the Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles would be the two best teams in the AL East division in just two years, I would have thought you were out of your mind.
From top to bottom, the Orioles have a better lineup and roster than the Jays. In fact, the O’s might have one of the best (if not the best) lineups in Baseball. I don’t want to put too much pressure on the Baltimore Orioles as they are a relativity young team, but at this point in the season, the American League East is their’s to lose.
Tags: AL East