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Balance in the AL East

The AL East has been a dominant division for many years, it holds two of the best franchises in the New York Yankees and  Boston Red Sox. Making it tougher over the past 6 years are the Tampa Bay Rays who have been very strong making the playoffs in 4 out of the last 6 years. The Baltimore Orioles have finished in 5th place 4 times out of the last 10 years and one 2nd place finish in 2011 which earned them a Wild-Card playoff berth. The Toronto Blue Jays have been an example of a good but never great team, in the last 10 seasons they have finished 5th only twice, won between 67-87 games, finished 2nd once and finished 3rd or 4th in every other season. The Blue Jays are the only AL East Team to not make the playoffs in the last 10 years.

2014 to date has shown a surprising amount of balance with no team showing dominance or disaster. It has set the stage for a very interesting battle. One that could see no dominant team due to infighting, it could be possible to see all 5 teams at or above .500 by the end of the season. The largest gap from first to last was 4.5 games from April 28th-30th when the Rays had fallen 4.5 games behind the leading Yankees. As recent as May 5th all 5 teams where within 1.5 games of each other. To show how volatile the division has been here is the current list of each teams share of first & last place.

Days in First Days in Last
Yankees 25 4
Blue Jays 9 6
Orioles 7 9
Red Sox 1 21
Rays 10 13

Every team has tasted the top and the bottom. The Yankees have held the top spot for most of the past month while the Blue Jays, Orioles and Rays have all had their turns. Interesting as well is that the 2013 World Series champion Red Sox have spent the most time at the bottom.

Now lets see how each team has been performing and some expected performance courtesy of

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As you can see the Blue Jays have the best differential with a +14 while the first place Yankees have the worst at -11. Outside of the Blue Jays, all other teams are currently not scoring enough runs per game and allowing too many in return. The Red Sox have allowed a decent 4.26 per game but have not been able to support it with enough offense. It is safe to say that most teams in the AL East have not yet performed at a level you would expect with no clear front-runner. At the beginning of the season it looked close but not this close. The Rays have been hit with pitching injuries which has caused a swing in the balance and potentially help set up a close divisional battle. At the end of May we could be looking at a completely different race but so far its been an interesting ride!


Top 5 Position Players by WAR
Jose Bautista, Tor – 1.9
Mike Napoli, Bos – 1.5
Desmond Jennings, TBR – 1.3
Ben Zobrist, TBR – 1.2
Dustin Pedroia, Bos – 1.1

Top 5 Pitchers by WAR
Mark Buehrle, Tor – 1.9
Masahiro Tanaka, NYY – 1.4
Jake Peavy, Bos – 1.1
Adam Warren, NYY – .9
Darren O’Day, Bal – .9
Zach Britton, Bal – .9
Koji Uehara, Bos – .9
Michael Pineda, NYY – .8
Bud Norris, Bal – .8
Chris Tillman, Bal – .8
John Lackey, Bos – .8

Team Total Pitcher’s WAR
Red Sox – 3.7
Orioles – 3.7
Yankees – 3.5
Blue Jays – 2.2
Rays – .9

Team Total Batter’s WAR
Blue Jays – 5.8
Rays – 5.6
Yankees – 5.4
Red Sox – 4.5
Orioles – 2.3