Power rankings this early in the season are a little misleading because only about seven percent of the season has been played. I like to say, “You can’t win the season in April and May but you sure as hell can lose it.” It’s nothing too groundbreaking, but it can help us look at how the AL East has fared through the first three weeks of the season and some issues teams should address before they balloon out of control.
1. Toronto Blue Jays (6-4)
AL East: 2nd
Upcoming Series: Kansas City Royals
Overall they’ve pitched better and hit better than anyone else in the AL East and perhaps the American League, sans the Rangers (8-2) of course. The Blue Jays through 10 games are 6-4, and the only team in the AL East to have a winning record on the road and at home. They have a +16 run differential and have given up the least amount of runs in the AL East. Sure it’s early, but I don’t see that staff giving up too many runs throughout the year. Brandon Morrow is locked in and if he can pitch with runners on base, he will have a much better year than some of his recent years. The Jays have a strong lineup and a great number one and a decent number two. In short, a lot of things are going well in Toronto, and with the AL East looking weaker than usual this year, it could definitely be the Blue Jays’ to take if they stay healthy.
2. New York Yankees (6-5)
AL East: 3rd
Upcoming Series: Boston Red Sox
This weekend’s series will commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Fenway, and in keeping with the spirit of nostalgia, the Yankees will wear the old Highlander uniforms. I own the Highlander hat and I am excited to get to see these uniforms in action. Anyway, the Yankees have some issues that definitely need to and will be addressed in the coming month. For example, Michael Pineda will be back along with Andy Pettitte. This will force Girardi/Cashman’s hand in either trading Freddy Garcia and/or Phil Hughes or pushing the latter to the minors. Ivan Nova has solidified his spot in the rotation with the way he’s pitching at the moment. This should help to improve some of the more atrocious starts the team has had so far. Aside from Nova and Kuroda’s respective best outings, no Yankee starter has allowed less than 3 runs in a game. Not good. However, there are positives to the start of this season: the team has scored 57 runs in 11 games, the team looks great defensively, and has stayed healthy (knock on wood). As long as the bats stay hot, the Yankee staff will come around and the bombers will be in good shape.
3. Baltimore Orioles (7-4)
AL East: 1st
Upcoming Series: Los Angeles Angels
This team is still yearning to get back to what they were in the early and mid 1990’s. Their fans still talk about Jeffery Maier. It’s rough. The Orioles are a few pieces away from being great but they still are in search of said pieces. Aside from Jake Arrieta, their staff won’t hold up to the rigors of the year and they will fade. It’s only a matter of time. Matt Weiters and Nick Markakis are having solid starts but they can’t keep that team afloat for long. They will fall off and don’t be surprised when they are swept by the struggling Angels.
4. Boston Red Sox (4-7)
AL East: Last
Upcoming Series: New York Yankees
The Sox have issues as my colleague, Nick Felder, thoroughly addresses here. With Jacoby Ellsbury out, the Sox will be looking for offensive production from Darnell McDonald… I laughed for a second. The Red Sox are in trouble. Their starting pitchers have been downright awful. The bullpen hasn’t fared much better. They gave up 19 runs last night. You wonder why I don’t have the hated rivals last I’m sure, but I’ll get to that in time. They’ve given up 68 runs through 11 games which is the most in Major League Baseball. They have a -12 run differential. Things aren’t going well over in Bean Town. I don’t see them getting any better. They may turn some things around because it will be tough for them to finish below .500 but they very well could.
5. Tampa Bay Rays (5-6)
AL East: 4th
Upcoming Series: Minnesota Twins
The Rays have a problem even though they opened the season with a sweep of the Yankees. While it was a sweep, it wasn’t very convincing. Even though their starters have had some decent outings, since that sweep, they’ve blown through the bullpen. What stands out to me, even though it’s early, is the fact that they have won about half of their games but have a run differential of -23. They’ve given up 64 runs in 11 games. Good for second best in the League. Simple math tells us they’ve scored 41 runs. When Joe Madden has to trot out a lineup with Jeff Keppinger as a cleanup hitter, there’s a problem. I think there are a lot of issues with that lineup being able to score runs moving forward. This does not mean the Rays won’t turn it around though. Having a -23 run differential clearly is not ideal and should definitely be cause for concern, but there is almost a full season left. The Rays can do some things well and have a great staff but if they continue to struggle on the mound, the team could be in a lot of trouble this year.
It’s a good thing it’s early because rankings can and will change but there are some things that will certainly create deep holes for teams to dig out of. Some of those holes that the Yankees find themselves in are easily correctable and will work themselves out with the returns of big arms. So far through the season, the bombers have hit the ball extremely well, the bullpen looks fantastic and they’ve fielded better than expected. While you can’t win anything in April and May, just remember, you sure as hell can lose it.