AL East Predictions

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Rays have officially joined the Yankees-Red Sox party

<p> It’s official. The Tampa Bay Rays are consistently competing with the rich boys up north.</p>

AL East
1. New York
2. Tampa Bay
(wild card)
3. Boston
4. Toronto
5. Baltimore

It’s official. The Tampa Bay Rays are consistently competing with the rich boys up north. Make no mistake, the Yankees are clearly the team to beat in the AL East, but the Rays have a better rotation, play solid, fundamental defense and score just enough runs to win.

The Yankees’ lineup is stacked once again, even as New York’s stars are aging. Second baseman Robinson Cano of the Yankees is quickly becoming the game’s best all-around player. Curtis Granderson is a threat at the top of the lineup and Mark Teixeira shares duties with Cano the duties of anchoring the middle. At this point, the production the Yankees get from their older stars Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter is almost a bonus.

With James Shields and David Price leading a strong rotation, the Rays pose a tough challenge every night. Carlos Peña is back to bolster the lineup and support Evan Longoria, but offense is not how the Rays win.

The Boston Red Sox have a new manager in Bobby Valentine, who has accepted the challenge of forging a new culture in Boston. There are still a few too many questions in the rotation, and with closer Andrew Bailey out for an extended period, the bullpen as well. When good health is on the Red Sox side, this lineup is dangerous. But even though Boston is younger than New York, the injury issues are about equal.

Poor Toronto. The Jays are capable of competing in any other division. The second wild card will at least give them a chance. The Orioles may be the worst organization in baseball right now.

Best Starting Pitcher: David Price, Tampa Bay
Best Hitter: Robinson Cano, New York
Best Manager: Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay
Rising Star: Matt Moore, SP, Tampa Bay

Most wins next five years (2013-17)
1. New York
2. Tampa Bay
3. Toronto
4. Boston
5. Baltimore

— Charlie Miller

Follow Charlie on Twitter @AthlonCharlie

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