Midway through the baseball season and the division that has been the most surprising to me with their results thus far is the American League East.
You figured the Boston Red Sox would be better then what they were last year, but no one could’ve predicted they would have the best record in the American League.
With all the injuries the Yankee players have suffered, you would think they would have a slow start, but not a 4th place in the American League East kind of slow start.
With all the acquisitions the Toronto Blue Jays had in the offseason via free agency and trade, you would expect them to be better, but lo and behold they are still in last place in the division.
Enough with the chitty chatty talk though, it’s time that I give the toughest division in baseball their mid-season report card grades.
Boston Red Sox (58-39) 1st Place in East- Grade (A)
Under new manager John Farrell the Boston Red Sox hold the best record in the American league, a season after they were the worst team within their division.
Led by All-Stars David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia, the Red Sox offense ranks 1st in runs scored and in on base percentage, and 2nd in batting average and slugging percentage.
The pitching staff for Boston has also held their ground, as their starting pitchers rank 4th in quality starts in the MLB.
It says a lot about the greatness of the first two-plus months of Clay Buchholz’s season that he earned a spot on the AL All-Star team despite not pitching since June 8. If it wasn’t for an inflammation in Buchholz’s neck which has continued to lead to soreness, I believe he would probably be the frontrunner for the American League Cy Young award.
The Red Sox 58 total wins this season through 97 games is just eleven fewer than the 69 wins they had last season in 162 games. Talk about a complete turnaround
Tampa Bay Rays (55-41) 2nd in East- Grade (A-)
Winning 9 out of their last 10 games before the All-Star break has put the Rays into 2nd place in the American League East and they are only 2.5 games out behind the first place Red Sox.
Not much to knock on about the Rays performance thus far in the season, seeing that they hold the third best record in the American league. If the playoffs were to start today, the Rays would be host to the Texas Rangers in the American League Wild Card play-in game.
It’s been a combination of both the Rays offense and defense that has them in this position. Their offense ranks 5th in on base percentage, 6th in runs and slugging percentage, and 9th in batting average. While their pitching ranks in the top 12 in ERA, quality starts, WHIP and opponents batting average.
Baltimore Orioles (53-43) 3rd in East- Grade (B+)
The Orioles are only 1.5 games back of the Texas Rangers, 2.0 games back of the Rays for the Wild card, and only 4.5 games back of the Red Sox for the division lead.
In their chase for a back-to-back playoff appearance, the Baltimore Orioles have also become one of the most exciting teams to watch in all of baseball.
They have a third baseman named Manny Machado who is a human highlight reel. If you missed yesterdays All-Star game, you missed out on a play that Machado made at 3rd for the American League that left both benches awestruck. Oh, and did I mention, he just turned 21 this past July 6th?
And then there is All-Star first baseman Chris Davis who has been on an offensive tear this season. He leads the American league in home runs (37), 2nd in RBI’s (93), and 7th in batting average (.315). Those numbers indicate that Chris Davis has a legitimate shot at taking home this years Triple Crown title.
New York Yankees (51-44) 4th in East- Grade (B-)
I have to admit that with all the injuries they have had with most of their star players, and yet for them to only be 6 games back of the division leading Red Sox midway through the season, has impressed me to say the least.
So far this year, not including the one game Derek Jeter played before the All-Star Break, the Yankees have been without their captain Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, and Kevin Youkilis. So how have they managed to still compete for the division title or even a wild card spot, you may ask?
Pitching. That’s right, it has been the Yankees pitching that has kept this 2013 team in the playoff hunt. The Yankees pitchers rank 9th in the MLB in team ERA and in WHIP.
With players like A-Rod, Youkilis, Jeter and Granderson looking to make a comeback some point in the season, you can expect this Yankees ball club to make things interesting in the AL East race and the wild card race till the final out in the regular season.
Toronto Blue Jays (45-49) 5th in East (Grade D+)
The Toronto Blue Jays have always been known as a team who were going to compete to be .500 year in and year out in the competitive American League East.
But after this offseason where general manager Alex Anthopoulos went out and acquired players like R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera via trade and free agency, you would expect the Blue Jays would have been able to take the next step forward and compete for a wild card spot, or maybe even a division title.
But they didn’t, and midway through the season the Blue Jays are around their typical .500 record sitting at 45-49.
Canada’s team is going to have to figure something out real quick or they are going to see some major changes with the roster come this offseason.