Red Sox vs the AL East: final rankings

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Aug 31, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) and starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) talk against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field. Boston Red Sox defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2. Tampa Bay Rays

Average rank: 2.83 (2)

Average offensive rank: 3.67 (T-4)

Average pitching rank: 2.00 (2)

The Rays just barely edged the Red Sox in these projections, with their average rank of 2.83 just finishing slightly over Boston’s 2.94 mark. However, as they always have done, the Rays’ projected success hinges entirely on their starting pitching. The Rays have the best rotation in the division, and it’s not particularly close with Alex Cobb and Chris Archer probably both ranking in the top three pitchers in the AL East.

On the whole, their lineup finished tied with the Yankees for last in the AL East, with no first-place finishes and only one second-place finish (Evan Longoria). In fact, every single member of the Rays’ lineup except Longoria and designated hitter John Jaso (who finished third) ranked as the fourth best player at their position. That goes to show how mediocre Tampa Bay’s lineup will be this season, although that hasn’t necessarily prohibited them from winning in the past.

With such a bad lineup, the Rays will need a healthy rotation in order to win this season. Tampa Bay has undergone quite a bit of roster and management overhaul in the last year, losing both general manager Andrew Friedman and manager Joe Maddon to the Dodgers and Cubs, respectively. A second-place finish could be optimistic for the Rays, but they’ve succeeded against the odds before and could certainly do it again this season.