The American League East has been baseball’s best division for a long time now. 2012 was the second straight season that the division had three 90 game winners and in two of the three seasons before that, the division hosted two 90 win teams and one team that won 89 games. Just one other division has had a season in which three teams won 90 or more games (AL Central in 2006) under the current divisional system. We have gotten use to three way battles for the divisional title and one wild card spot coming from the East ever since Tampa Bay became a perennial competitor, but this year promises to be more wide open then ever before. In fact, predicting a winner in the AL East this season is a excellent way to look extremely foolish.
Let’s take a look at the five AL East teams in order of their 2012 records, shall we?
On paper, this is now the most talented club in the AL East, but you do have to wonder if that talent will actually take the field. Their best player, possibly the best player in baseball, Jose Bautista is returning from wrist surgery. Jose Reyes is probably their second best player and durable is not a word people typically use to describe him. Both Marlins' pitching imports showed signs of decline last year, with Josh Johnson’ strikeout rate heading towards Earth as Mark Buerhle’s batted balls head in the opposite direction. R.A. Dickey and Edwin Encarnacion are both coming off seasons that vastly exceeded their previous track records. As much as the Blue Jays deserve the high praise right now, they may not run away with this division and almost every key player on the club has a few question marks.
From the top to the bottom of the division, every team in the AL East can justify the idea that they are a contender in 2013. This is partly because it now seems unlikely that the division will have two 90 win teams in this year. The AL West, which had two 90 win teams and an 89 win team last year now appears to be the superior division. The second wild card spot could mean that two AL East teams make the playoffs once again, but even that is far less certain than in past seasons.