2017 MLB AL-East Preview: Why it is the Red Sox’s Division to Lose

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Young prospects and a newly shaped team have Yankees fans optimistic for the 2017 campaign. While the Red Sox are the clear favorites heading into the season to win the division, the Yankees hope to challenge their arch-rival.

Reed Shultz

With MLB Spring Training winding down and Opening Day just a few weeks away, it seems appropriate to talk about one of baseball’s most competitive and historic divisions, the American League East. Comprised of the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays, the division has four teams, in my opinion, that could all make playoff runs.

Although the Toronto Blue Jays have lost in the ALCS two years in a row, I think the clear favorite to win this division is the Red Sox. As a Yankee fan, this is hard for me to admit. On paper, their starting rotation is quite impressive, having three former CY Young winners on their roster. The addition of pitcher Chris Sale, to complement Aces David Price and Rick Porcello, will pose a major obstacle to most of the teams that they face. Although they lost a legend and perennial All-Star in David Ortiz, their young core of Betts, Bradley and Bogaerts should be enough to carry their offense. I think this is the Red Sox’s division to lose.

For the Toronto Blue Jays to finally get past the ALCS and reach their first World Series since 1993, they are going to need to overcome the loss of slugger Edwin Encarnación, who left for the Cleveland Indians this past summer. Similar to the Red Sox, the Blue Jays have a strong rotation led by Aaron Sanchez and J.A Happ. They are going to need Jose Bautista to have a bounce back year if they have any shot of going deep into the playoffs. The Baltimore Orioles, who lost to Toronto in the wild card game, also have a chance to win the division. Their lineup is full of power, with Manny Machado as an early candidate for the AL MVP. While I may be wrong, I don’t think the Tampa Bay Rays are going to make the playoffs this year. They were by far the worst team in the division last year, and they did very little in the off-season to bolster their lineup. I think they will finish last in the division, and it won’t even be close.

While this next declaration is rooted in extreme bias, I think the New York Yankees are going to be the most interesting team to watch in the division. The Yankees of the last decade are no longer. Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann, Mariano Rivera and the players that made up the ’09 Championship team are pretty much all gone. This is an incredibly young, talented and unproven team. 

The Yankees are finally transitioning away from spending a ton of money on veteran players and have opted to build through their highly touted farm system. We already saw a glimpse of the potential of catcher Gary Sánchez, who had a breakout rookie year for the team last year. Furthermore, players such as Greg Bird, Aaron Judge, Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres are the foundation of the future.  

While the team may not be a threat to win the World Series this year, I think they have the brightest future of any team in the MLB. This is a transitioning year for the team, but look for them to be competitive and be a team ready to contend for rings in the near future.