Rays, Jays lead AL East
March 17, 2013
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2013 MLB Predictions: AL East
The AL East has typically been the landscape that the Yankees and Red Sox have owned the past 15-20 years but that may not be the case in 2013. The ever consistent Tampa Bay Rays have won 90 or more games in each of the past three seasons and Baltimore will be out to prove that last year’s 93-win campaign was no fluke. And then there is the Toronto Blue Jays, arguably the winners of the off-season having pulled off one of the biggest trades in recent years with Miami and courting last year’s NL Cy Young winner in R.A. Dickey. Those moves by Toronto have made them the favorite to walk away with the division crown this year but that’s why they play the games.
AL East Odds
You’ve got to begin with the Jays this year as they made all the noise this winter with the trade for Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and others. When you add in the trade for Dickey and the signing of Melky Cabrera, this team added a lot of proven MLB talent and filled about every hole they had on their roster. But winning the offseason and winning your division are two very different teams and it will be interesting to see how quickly all the new faces mesh in Toronto. It’s tough not to like them here as the favorites with the division looking as wide open as it’s been in years, but injuries are always a concern and the Jays have quite a few guys on their roster that have been plagued by injuries before. As long as Toronto can stay healthy, expect them to be fighting for this division crown when October 1st rolls around.
New York Yankees +250
The Yankees are still the Yankees but they will begin the year with so many of their stars injured that it will be tough from the get-go for this team. They are an old team that has likely seen their championship window pass them by, although it remains open ever so slightly. If Robinson Cano can carry this team for the first few months while everyone else gets healthy, it’s not inconceivable to see New York go on a 2nd half tear and become players for the division title. But the likelihood of that is quite slim and I think this will be the first year in a while that the Yankees find themselves watching October baseball from their living rooms.
Tampa Bay +300
The Rays seem to fly under everyone’s radar every season but their recent results speak for themselves. After making it to the World Series in 2008, Tampa has won 84, 96, 91, and 90 games respectively. Those numbers were only good enough for one division crown and two playoff appearances in that time but with down seasons expected by the Yankees and Red Sox (again), another year with 90+ wins should be good enough for Tampa to win the division. They always have great pitching and play sound, fundamental baseball under Joe Maddon and 2013 won’t be any different. They don’t have any of the flashy stars that the other teams in this division have, but Tampa should be there in the end.
Boston +800; Baltimore +800
Baltimore’s wildcard season last year was remarkable in many aspects but it’s unlikely that they make a repeat trip to the playoffs. They were a league best (and third best all time) 29-9 SU in one-run games last year and that doesn’t include their 2-1 SU mark in the playoffs as well. They have a good young core and will make some noise this year but they don’t have a chance in repeating what they did a season ago.
Boston seemingly went through hell and back last year as they finished last in the AL East for the first time in a long time. This year it doesn’t appear as things will get much better in Beantown as they begin to rebuild this roster around the likes of Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia. Boston should do better than their 69 wins from last year but a key injury here or there could have them staring up at the rest of the division from the basement once again.
As far as the plays go, you’ve got to like Tampa Bay from a value standpoint and the fact that no one is really talking about them as a legitimate threat this year. That’s how the Rays like it and they will quietly go about their business.
The Yankees are overpriced here and Baltimore and Boston don’t have a realistic shot at claiming the crown. That leaves the Jays and with expectations sky high in the city of Toronto for the first time in 20 years, this Toronto team shouldn’t disappoint. They aren’t my favorite play to win the AL East but you can’t ignore them here. As long as the Jays or Rays come out on top, a profit will be had.
Take Tampa Bay +300 and Toronto +180 to win the AL East