Red Sox vs the AL East: final rankings

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Sep 9, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (19) congratulates center fielder Adam Jones (10) after hitting a home run during the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

1. Baltimore Orioles

Average rank: 2.17 (1)

Average offensive rank: 2.67 (3)

Average pitching rank: 1.67 (1)

The Orioles were the story in the AL East last season as they exceeded expectations to lead the division and finish as the second-best team in the American League. However, some will doubt their ability to repeat last season’s success after losing big names Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis in free agency.

Still, the O’s have the best combination of a strong lineup and pitching staff of any team in this division and still appear to be best-equipped to win the division this season. While they only had one first-place finish at any position (Adam Jones), the O’s rode a trio of second-place finishes (Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, Steve Pearce) and four third-place finishes (Matt Wieters, Jonathan Schoop, Manny Machado, Travis Snider) to a solid offensive rank. While Baltimore’s lineup did lag a bit behind Toronto and Boston, however, the Orioles more than made up for that gap with their second-best starting pitching and best bullpen in the division.

There’s no denying that the Orioles have the best blend of hitting and pitching in the division, though the Red Sox could challenge that statement with such luck, and thus look poised to repeat as division champions.

This marks the end of the “Red Sox vs the AL East” series, but with spring training and eventually the season on the horizon, there’s plenty to look forward to for Red Sox fans!