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The Hitting Beast of the AL East

Last week I took a look at each teams pitching in the AL East, you can read it here.

I always enjoy pre-season projects even if they are meaningless which they pretty much are. One of my favorite tools is the Fangraphs projected standings, they have a variety of projection systems, depth analysis and playoff odds to keep ones mind running. Not all of their projects are posted yet but once we get a little closer there will be lots more to consume. Now we can look at the AL East offences and see which teams might take the title of the Hitting Beast of the East.

Using the Fangraphs depth charts as a starting point we can see who they project to get the most AB and production. It’s not a perfect science but its a good tool. I always then consider injury risk, past performances or age and if their system over/under estimates their players. Based on these projections below is a spreadsheet of the top 12 players projected to get the most playing time for each team by Fangraphs (if you disagree yell at them). *Note: Gregory Bird will now miss the 2016 Season (I would suspect they add a replacement depth option shortly)

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5th Place – Orioles
I could have easily gone with the Rays as its pretty close but I will give the basement mark to the Orioles. The O’s have a top line 3B in Manny Machado, some solid offensive players in Adam Jones & Chris Davis but lack the depth or quality their AL East competitors run out. If the O’s had a front line pitching staff this would be a nice lineup but unfortunately they do not and in my mind this lineup doesn’t cut it. Matt Weiters has never blossomed, they wildly outbid themselves to bring back Chris Davis on an insane seven-year 161 Million dollar contract. Davis is hit .196 in 2014 and I get it, he hits HR but for a team that doesn’t spend to the division this is a contract bound to fail. Adding Mark Trumbo who is also another flawed power hitter does little to help their overall needs. I don’t like the makeup or the balance so the O’s get the stinker award.

4th Place – Rays
In fairness the Rays very well might be the worst offense in the AL East but I like the upside and balance in their lineup a little more. The Rays always strive to get as much as possible from the little they spend. Like many other teams in the division they have a star at 3B in Evan Longoria who leads the offensive charge, while not a superstar Longoria still is a player most teams would love to have. I like the upside in Steven Souza and they have depth in the OF with Kevin Kiermaier, newly added Corey Dickerson and Desmond Jennings. As a group I think its deeper than the O’s, they have the ability to be creative when scoring runs. The Rays are always a pesky team to play while not a slugging juggernaut like some of their rivals.

3rd Place – Yankees
While not as threatening as years past, the Yankess look to have middle of the pact offense. The big question again this year will be health and age. Speaking of health it was just announced that Gregory Bird will miss the 2016 with shoulder surgery. While on the surface this seems small, it hurts as Bird was much-needed depth for Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. The Yankees benefit from a bulk of middle of the pact players in Brian McCann, Chase Headley, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner while not superstars they are all good players to have on any team. I won’t be surprised to see a few depth moves in the coming weeks as right now the lineup looks thin beyond the core.

2nd Place – Red Sox
When looking at the Red Sox there is a significant jump from the previous three teams, the Red Sox look to have one of the leagues better offenses. What Boston has done well at is building their young core with exciting players in Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr., they complement  their established heroes Dustin Pedroia & David Ortiz. The additions of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval haven’t gone smoothly so far but as long as they provide average production the Red Sox will have a potent offense. Of course there is some risk if the younger players do not repeat or their aging players fall off but I think the Red Sox have the depth to survive a little turbulence. Fans should be excited to see another year with their promising young potential stars unlike the Yankees who do not have the depth of young talent to replace its ageing stars.

1st Place – Blue Jays
The Blue Jays blew the league away last year scoring 5.50 runs a game which was well above the 2nd place Yankees at 4.72. Their potent offense is back for 2016 and it has potential to be even better, the Blue Jays enter 2016 as not only the best offense in the AL East but all of major league baseball. The Blue Jays core of reigning MVP Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Russell Martin and Troy Tulowitzki is second to none. The Blue Jays also have their younger core in Kevin Pillar, Devon Travis, Dalton Pompey and Ryan Goins while not as potent as Boston’s youngsters they offer a balance to compliment the older power bats. There is very little breathing room in this lineup and that is why the Blue Jays win the title of Hitting Beast in the AL East.