May 8, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury (2) catches a fly ball against the Minnesota Twins during the seventh inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Grading the AL East: Outfield

The Yankees made a lot of noise this winter at almost every position, but the biggest impact came in the outfield. Two huge additions in Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran really help the Yankees in the outfield, but are they enough to give them the most dangerous outfield in a fiercely competitive AL East that boasts the defending world champions and plenty of other superstar outfielders? Here’s a look at our top outfields in the AL East:

5Rays – David DeJesus, Desmond Jennings, Wil Myers, Matt Joyce, Sean Rodriguez  This outfield has plenty of potential — at least two-thirds of it does — but not a lot of depth. Myers and Jennings could become a dangerous pair, but after that there isn’t much. At this point in his career we all know what DeJesus is, and he’s average at best. Joyce has failed to hit with enough consistency and Rodriguez is a jack of all trades — master of none. The potential is here, and many expect Myers to become one of the best hitters in the league very soon. But as it stands right now, a lot needs to happen for this outfield to be one of the best in the division.

4. Orioles – Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, David Lough, Steve Pearce, Henry Urrutia – Jones has become a superstar. The five-tool player is one of the best in the game and should make this outfield great. The problem is, he doesn’t have much help. Markakis’ power never developed and he is coming off one of his worst seasons at the plate. Lough and/or Pearce don’t get many excited. Urrutia is the wild card here. The Cuban import was a fantastic hitter who had success in the minors last year and got a short look in the majors last year. If he can develop, the man that almost hit .400 in Cuba in 2010 could surprise many. As of now, however, he’s too big of a question mark.

3.  Red Sox – Jackie Bradley Jr., Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava, Jonny Gomes – Last season the Red Sox  had one of the better outfields in the league with both Ellsbury and Victorino in the top five in WAR (wins above replacement) at their position. Ellsbury leaves, but the team returns Victorino, Nava and Gomes while looking to feature young star Bradley Jr. Nava and Gomes platooned last year but don’t be surprised to see the breakout star Nava play more against lefties this year. There is a big question mark with Bradley, but he has the potential to make this a very dangerous outfield.

2. Blue Jays   Melky Cabrera, Colby Rasmus, Jose Bautista  This outfield features one of the most dangerous hitters in the game in Bautista, who alone rises this unit up the ranks. Cabrera shined in the past but has had his issues with steroids and injuries. Last year’s leg injuries were found to be a result of a benign tumor near Cabrera’s spinal cord which was removed near the end of the year. He’s still just 29 and if he can return to form, he and Rasmus can provide very consistent production both in the field and at the plate.

1. Yankees – Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner, Alfonso Soriano   Not only can this outfield be one of the best at the plate, but with Ellsbury and Gardner they have two of the best defensive outfielders in baseball. Ellsbury was fourth among outfielders in WAR (wins above replacement) last year and gives the Yankees a legitimate leadoff man. Beltran’s best year’s may be behind him, but nobody seems to have told him that as he’s coming off another year with 20-plus home runs, 80-plus RBI and an averaging sniffing .300. He and another veteran, Soriano, should make a great tandem in right field and at DH. Soriano was the Yankees’ hottest hitter at the end of the year and proved he still has plenty in his bat as well. If all goes the way the numbers and history dictate, the Yankees should have the best outfield in the division and one of the best in the game.

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