Describing the American League East in Three Words

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American League East
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 01: Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox (L) and Jackie Bradley Jr. #19 (R) celebrate their win against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on September 1, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The Boston Red Sox 6-1. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

The 2018 Major League Baseball season has been an exciting one so far. As September starts to unfold, it is clear to see the identity of each team. Therefore, here are three words to describe the state of each team in the American League East:

Boston Red Sox– Best team ever?

After consecutive division championships resulted in one playoff win, the Red Sox made the most impactful signing this off-season in J.D. Martinez. He and right fielder Mookie Betts have combined to give the Red Sox a duo of MVP candidates to go along with lefty ace, Chris Sale, and bullpen anchor, Craig Kimbrel, to transform a dangerous team into a deadly one.

With a full month to play, they are 50 games over .500 and are on pace for 108 wins according to Fan Graphs. Barring a September collapse, it is hard not to think that this team could challenge the 2001 Seattle Mariners‘ regular season record of 116 wins.

New York Yankees– The broken bombers

Headlines speculated that the Yankees of 2018 would be Murderer’s Row 2.0. The offense has yet to clique all at once and suffered from inconsistencies. The main issue has been staying on the field.

Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius, and Aroldis Chapman are all currently on the disabled list, with Gary Sanchez making his return.  Jacoby Ellsbury has not and will not play a game in 2018 due to injury. Also, Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, CC Sabathia, Jordan Montgomery, Domingo German, Jonathan Loaisiga, Tommy Kahnle, Greg Bird, Aaron Hicks, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, Luis Cessa, and A.J. Cole have all contributed at the Major League level and spent time on the disabled list this year.

That list also includes the likes of Brandon Drury, Billy McKinney, Tyler Austin, and Adam Warren who were all traded at the deadline. The acquisitions of Andrew McCutchen and Adeiny Hechavarria should help patch up the voids left by some of these injuries for the time being.

Tampa Bay Rays-Innovating, not tanking

The Rays are known for developing quality, young players and then trading them for future assets due to a small payroll. This offseason, the general feeling was that the team intends to tank to rebuild through high draft picks.

Instead, they have been winning games while attempting to revolutionize the game by introducing the “opener” and using relievers for one or two innings to start games before bringing in their traditional starters.

As a result, a team that many felt would finish at the bottom of the AL East is in third place, eight games over .500. They have also played the Yankees and Red Sox very well so far this season, being the only team to sweep a series from both opponents this season.

Toronto Blue Jays- Where’s Vlad Jr?

The description for Toronto could have read, ‘Where’s Josh Donaldson,’ as the former MVP has been sidelined most of the season by injury. He is now a Cleveland Indian but Toronto missed his presence this year. It is evident that a team that went to consecutive American League Championship Series in 2015-16 appears to be heading in the wrong direction following a mediocre 2017 season.

As the team continues to plummet, it is a wonder why they have not called up the top prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB.com, Vlad Guerrero Jr. The slugger started in Double-A New Hampshire before getting the call-up to Triple-A Buffalo. He did suffer a knee injury in June but is healthy and hitting .382 with a 1.076 OPS, 19 home runs, and 76 RBI in 2018, according to MiLB.com. Vlad should make a splash in September if given the chance.

Baltimore Orioles- Back to basics

The Orioles were not expected to contend this year, but it has not been pretty in Baltimore.  The team is already long eliminated from the division race and over 50 games over .500.  With the contracts of many key pieces to their past success expiring, the Orioles hosted a fire sale at the deadline.

The team traded away Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Brad Brach, Kevin Gausman, and Jonathan Schoop. They agreed to trade Adam Jones, who blocked the trade with his ten and five rights, granting him a full no-trade clause. Manager, Buck Showalter, and general manager, Dan Duquette, also have expiring contracts.  Do not be surprised to see the Orioles move on from them and truly start from scratch in this rebuild.

The American League East is always a tough division to play in and looks to be tougher than ever with perennial juggernauts like the Yankees and Red Sox each on pace for over 100 wins. It appears the playoff picture from this division is all but set in stone.

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