Assessing the American League East
ESPN’s Buster Olney has completed an article series that assessed baseball’s best teams piece by piece, assembling an MLB top ten team list in six categories.
The series is not particularly good news for the Red Sox, who did not fare well in the analysis.
Here’s a look at how the teams of the American League East are currently viewed (ESPN Insider subscription required for the links, sorry).
- Overall Top Teams – Blue Jays #8, Yankees #10. Only two other AL teams made the list (Tigers #3, Athletics #5) – has the overall balance of power shifted to the National League?
- Starting Rotations – Rays #6, Blue Jays #7. Tampa Bay traded James Shields and is still among the top teams – a testament to their organizational depth. And it looks like the Marlins (Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle) and Mets (R.A. Dickey) trades are primed to pay off for Toronto. Wondering what to expect from Boston’s rotation in 2013? Check out this analysis by Bill Baer who sees the Red Sox staffing staff as not improving enough.
- Bullpens – Rays #2, Orioles #4. So much for pitching being the heart of a great team. The Rays are the only team in the top ten for both the rotation and bullpen, and not make the top ten team list.
- Offensive Lineups – Red Sox #6, Blue Jays #8, Yankees #10. Good news for Boston (note: the analysis assumes Mike Napoli is part of the Red Sox lineup). But scoring runs was not a Boston problem last season – they were tied for eighth place in the MLB in runs scored in 2012. The road to improvement starts with pitching – and as cited above, it doesn’t look like the Red Sox moved into the top tier there.
- Infields – Rays #4, Yankees #5, Blue Jays #7. Toronto could be the underrated group here, particularly if Jose Reyes takes it up a notch and Brett Lawrie gets it together. With Stephen Drew in the fold and once they finally resolve first base, the Red Sox should have a chance to move up into the top ten conversation.
- Outfields – Orioles #10 – Adam Jones is The Man. The Blue Jays are knocking on the door – if Jose Bautista bounces back from injury and Melky Cabrera shows he can perform without being on the juice. Also, looks like the days of the Red Sox and Yankees having feared outfields are over (at least for 2013).
- Sorry catchers, you didn’t prove important enough for Buster’s analysis. Not sure any AL East catchers would have cracked a top ten list – although Baltimore’s Matt Wieters would merit strong consideration.
Tallying up the Categories
Not that every area should be given equal weight but here’s how the teams measured up in the number of times making each category.
- Blue Jays – 4
- Yankees – 3
- Rays – 3
- Orioles – 2
- Red Sox – 1
This list feels like the order we may see experts use to stack up the AL East in their pre-season predictions.
Right now, it looks like all of Toronto’s wheeling and dealing is paying off – at least in the winning the off-season. Can’t wait for the games to begin.
How do you see the AL East sizing up right now?