AL East preview: Yankees looking to party like it’s 1999, ’98, ’96
There seems to be a 1990s nostalgia feel around this years New York Yankees heading into the 2018 season.
New York (91-71 last season) added possibly the most prolific home run hitter in baseball today — Giancarlo Stanton. Barring injuries, the Yankees should win the east and reignite their traditional October presence.
The Boston Red Sox (93-69) won the east last season and will be there in the end also, but the additions by their rivals will be too much. Aside from the Tampa Bay Rays (80-82), all other AL East competitors added weapons in hopes of keeping up with the Yanks and Sox, but will still fall short matching up against the arsenals of the 2018 edition “Bronx Bombers.”
New York Yankees
Since the steroids era ended, no player has hit more than 60 home runs in a single season. Aaron Judge hit 52 last year and then the Yankees added Stanton, who hit 59 for the Miami Marlins last season, making them the top dog in the American League.
New York has what appears on the surface to be the second coming of the Mantle–Maris combination — the third coming of Ruth–Gehrig — with Gary Sánchez playing the Berra–Lazzeri role. Do Stanton and Judge have the pop to challenge the 115 home runs put up by the “M&M Boys” in 1961 or 107 by the heart of “Murderer’s Row” in 1927? Only time will tell.
And the pitching staff is no slouch either, with Luis Severino (14-6, 2.98 ERA) emerging as a legitimate ace in 2017 and the back-end of the bullpen looking as treacherous as ever.
Projected record: 99-63, division champs
Boston Red Sox
Even after David “Big Papi” Ortiz retired in 2016 Boston has remained competitive. The Red sox added outfielder J.D. Martinez and still have one of the best one-two punches in the pitching rotation with two left-handed co-aces Chris Sale and David Price. Add in the veteran leadership of second baseman and California native Dustin Pedroia and this team is built to win now — just not as much as the Yankees.
Projected record: 93-69, Wild Card
Baltimore Orioles (75-87)
A bounce back season is in the works for skipper Buck Showalter and his top-to-bottom arsenal of potent bats. Adam Jones, Mark Trumbo, Chris Davis and Manny Machado, this team can hit with the best of them. But a lackluster pitching staff will make it tough on the O’s to compete in a crowded east division.
Projected record: 84-78
Toronto Blue Jays (76-86)
The odyssey surrounding José Bautista’s decision to opt of his contract leaves a big hole in the middle of the line-up for the blue birds. When Troy Tulowitzki is healthy, he is among the best shortstops in the game and gives this team a shot at playing in October. They added more power to the swing by signing Curtis Granderson and they still have 2015 MVP Josh Donaldson and Kendrys Morales but are about one starting pitcher away from being real contenders in the always stacked AL East.
Projected record: 83-79
Tampa Bay Rays
This team feels like a broke man’s San Francisco Giants squad with four former G-Men on the roster. Though Christian Arroyo appears ticketed for a Triple-A April, Denard Span and Matt Duffy will be regulars (when healthy, that is) with 2012 World Series closer Sergio Romo coming out of the bullpen.
Ace Chris Archer is the real deal and he is the oldest starter in the rotation so he will try to lead the Rays back to the playoffs since 2013. But it is also very possible that Archer will be donning a different uniform come late-summer.
Projected record: 77-85