Red Sox: 2017 American League East standings predictions

Aug 20, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi (left) center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (center) and right fielder Mookie Betts (right) celebrate after the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Red Sox win 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 20, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi (left) center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (center) and right fielder Mookie Betts (right) celebrate after the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Red Sox win 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

An eventful offseason led to the Boston Red Sox being predicted as juggernauts heading into 2017. We predict the final standings of the American League East in particular.

The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees young stars will headline a heated rivalry in the American League East. Unfortunately for New York (and the rest of the division) the Red Sox are going to be the clear cut front-runners to claim the division in 2017.

Meanwhile Toronto will remain competitive. I made these predictions based on current rosters (assumed free agent landing spots accounted for).

2017 American League East Projected Standings

  1. Boston Red Sox
  2. Toronto Blue Jays (2017 AL Wild Card vs Texas)
  3. New York Yankees
  4. Baltimore Orioles
  5. Tampa Bay Rays

Boston Red Sox 

The Boston Red Sox will win the American League East, again. Lets just get that out of the way now. Boston’s rotation has a solid balance of left and right handing pitching, with arguably three (or four) ace caliber pitchers. Steven Wright will look to bounce back to All-Star form, after suffering from a shoulder injury that ended his 13-6 campaign in 2016. Additionally, 2016 AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello , $217 million man David Price, and former White Sox ace Chris Sale, will complete Boston’s “Big-Three”.

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Mookie Betts will captain the Red Sox “Ortiz-less” offense. The Red Sox (and our fans) hope that Pablo Sandoval will return to 2011-2014 form. As for the rest of the offense, Hanley Ramirez is our new DH, Mitch Moreland (2016: 22 HR, 60 RBI) will take over at first, Andrew Benintendi will start in left field, but the rest of the lineup from 2016 will remain the same.

In reference to a previous article I had written, I gave up believing the Red Sox can snag Jose Bautista. A deal that would have capped off a powerful depth of forces at the plate. I assume the Phillies and Bautista will come to an agreement, due to their weak right field and a more than available payroll in 2017.

The Red Sox are undoubtedly the clear cut front-runners in 2017.

Toronto Blue Jays 

Even after losing Edwin Encarnacion to the Cleveland Indians and possibly losing Jose Bautista, I am still confident in the Blue Jays’ ability to end up in second place. Toronto added Kendrys Morales to help their offensive strike. Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, and Melvin Upton Jr. will round off the Blue Jays batting order.

Toronto has a solid group of starting pitchers to support their offense. Aaron Sanchez had a great 2016 season (15-2 3.00 ERA). Sanchez will be followed by Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, Marcus Stroman, and Francisco Liriano. Altogether, the Jays present a more complete roster than the Yankees. Toronto’s runs scored/runs allowed average was better than the Yankees and Orioles in 2016.  As a result, I expect to see them play the Texas Rangers in the AL Wild Card game. Houston’s new additions should win them the American League West.

New York Yankees 

The Yankees will finish third in the AL East if Gary Sanchez is not a bluff. The “Bronx Bombers” batting order has to lean on the young catcher to perform as well as he did in 2016 (53 G: 20 HR, 42 RBI). Matt Holliday, Starlin Castro, Didi Gregorius, and Greg Bird will round off the Yankees batting talent. In addition, the Yankees pitching staff re-added Aroldis Chapman. Chapman and Dellin Betances will have to help support a weak starting pitching staff.

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The Yankees rotation will be led by Masahiro Tanaka, but inconsistency and age (Michael Pineda, Luis Severino, CC Sabathia, the list goes on) will cause problems. Keep in mind the Yankees will have to play the Boston Red Sox (best offense in the MLB during 2016) twelve times in 2017. If Mark Trumbo returns to Baltimore, the Yankees will have to be on their A-Game all season.

Baltimore Orioles  

The Orioles always seem to start off strong but willow away after the All-Star break. The Oakland A’s are putting together a convincing pitch for current free agent Mark Trumbo. Last year in Baltimore, Trumbo had the best season of his career (47 HR, 108 RBI). Since leaving the Angels in 2013, Trumbo has been a bit of a team-jumper, but the California native may be looking for a return home.

In addition, Manny Machado, Adam Jones, and Chris Davis will add to the Orioles offense. Welington Castillo will be the O’s new catcher, coming off of a promising 2016 season with the struggling Diamondbacks.

The Orioles pitching staff looks decent enough, with Chris Tillman (2016: 16-6, 3.77 ERA) being the main event. Red Sox fans may remember Wade Miley for his 2015 11-11 season in Boston, as he falls in Baltimore’s number four spot. After trading Yovani Gallardo, Baltimore will have to lean on Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, and the “Linsanity” of the MLB, Ubaldo Jimenez. Baltimore’s offense is great for fantasy owners, but in the eyes of pitching and playoff potential, they have barely hung on the last couple of years.

Tampa Bay Rays

Do not expect to see much from the Rays in 2017. The fact that Rays pitching staff carried a 4.20 ERA in 2016 is just short of a miracle. Tampa’s “ace” (if Chris Archer even deserves the title) boasted a 9-19 record in 2016.  Archer lead the majors in loses and set a career high in home runs surrendered.  I do not want to sit here and roast Archer, but when you blame the Rays repeatedly for your losing record, excuses get old.

Tampa’s Jake Odorizzi led all the Rays’ pitchers in wins and had the lowest ERA. Orodizzi was able to finish 10-6 with a 3.69 ERA.

Tampa needs to rebuild, period. Getting rid of Chris Archer is a start, but the Rays need to make realistic offers. The Rays front office may be forgetting that the best record that Archer has recorded in his career is 9-7. Evan Longoria and Brad Miller will be the Rays offense, but I would not be surprised if Longoria is moved somewhere else during the regular season.

Next: Expectations for Pablo Sandoval

It seems like nobody in the AL East will be able to match up with the three-headed dog that was born in Boston over the winter meetings. The Blue Jays and Yankees offenses should keep them competitive. While Baltimore’s pitching staff has to reduce the amount of opposing players crossing home plate. Meanwhile the Rays will look to rebuild a their struggling offense and rotation. Overall the Red Sox should do just fine in 2017.