It’s safe to say most fans weren’t happy with the outcome of the 2015 season for the New York Yankees. Their eight game lead blown after a strong push by the Toronto Blue Jays, and a loss in the wild card game to end any hope of making a run. Now as the focus turns to 2015 and the very real possibility of the Yankees being contenders, but how do they get there?
The Boston Red Sox made a strong push in the second half as their younger guys started getting more at-bats and playing time. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Red Sox came back from a generally bad year again and contend for the division title like they’ve done in the recent past. They still need to get pitching worked out as their starting rotation was the main reason for the bad year, but just like the Yankees, they’ll look to figure that out during the off-season.
The Baltimore Orioles were expected to win the AL East last season as they seemed like the most complete team heading in. As they finished the season even at 81-81, there was definitely a negative feeling for what should of been in 2015 for the O’s. However, injuries were a big part of their struggles, and Chris Davis‘ efforts weren’t enough to keep them in contention. Next year I see the Orioles coming back and competing for the AL East. Manny Machado is already one of, if not the best overall third baseman in baseball and next year I see him taking the next step should he stay healthy. Going off the notion that they’ll pay Chris Davis whatever he wants as well, I see the Orioles hitting close to the 90s in the win column, and again will be contending for the division title as they should’ve last year.
The Tampa Bay Rays are a very curious team to look at for next season. They have built their rotation to probably first or second best in the division, what they’re lacking is what’s behind those pitchers. Their outfield is probably the only thing that stands out right now. Great defense and good hitting from the three, Evan Longoria needs no introduction, and then what else? Their rotation is definitely good enough to keep them around in the division, and Chris Archer is jsut going to keep getting better. Depending on what they do this off-season, I still seem them getting more wins next season. It may not be a lot more, but I still think they’ll be a truly annoying team to play for anyone.
Lastly to 2015 AL East winners, the Blue Jays. From fourth in the division to first, the Jays lived through the deadline to make that historic push, and now they must go through the motions of being a trade deadline powered team. David Price is likely to move on as the Jays, so they’ll be losing their ace (who they gave up their number one prospect for) and Mark Buehrle will be a free agent likely to leave as well. The hitting won’t be the same as it was during that historic month of September, but it will still be lethal enough to keep the Jays in the 80-90’s win-range. However, they’re right back where they were before the trade deadline with pitching, but worse. Marco Estrada and Marcus Stroman will lead the Jays, but after that there’s nothing to make a big deal about. Obviously once again, this is before any moves have been made, but they’ll be working against the Yankees in free-agency for a pitcher this off-season.
I genuinely think the AL East will be the best division in baseball next season by far. All of these teams have a great part to them and it’s the reason they were the only division with all teams having at least 75 wins (Red Sox had 78). The Yankees had their chance to win easily last year, and now it’s going to get a lot harder. They can not depend on a Wild Card birth to get into the playoffs. The Houston Astros are going to be a lot better with those young guys who aren’t even in their prime yet, the Texas Rangers have Yu Darvish returning and will be a lot tougher as well. I know it’s only November of 2015 still, but mark my words, the Yankees must win the division to safely make the playoffs. 87 wins and a terrible September barely got them by, next season 90 might not even make the cut for a wild card birth. The American League is stacked, as opposed to the National League where a handful of teams are good and the rest are 20 games below .500. The AL East will be the most exciting it’s been in the last couple of years, the Yanks are a win now team with the older lineup, it’s time to win.
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