2020 MLB Season Preview: A.L. East
As we prepare for our delayed 2020 MLB Opening Day, we take a look at each division, spotlighting each team and their key offseason moves. We’ll also discuss the outlook for all 30 clubs heading into the season, including team MVP, Cy Young and Impact Rookie to watch.
Today, we continue on with the American League East Division.
Let's first peek at last season's final standings in the division:
2019 Regular Season - AL East
W-L Pct. GB
NY Yankees 103-59 .637 --
Tampa Bay 96-66 .593 7.0
Boston 84-78 .519 19.0
Toronto 67-95 .414 39.0
Baltimore 54-108 .333 49.0
SS Jose Iglesias, SP Wade LeBlanc, SP Tommy Milone
1B Mark Trumbo, SP Dylan Bundy, SS Jonathan Villar,
Chris Davis is still robbing the Orioles, holding them back from total commitment to a full rebuild. Nevertheless, the O’s were active, sending Dylan Bundy to the Angels for four right-handed pitchers all under the age of 23. The stars of the group are Isaac Mattson and Kyle Brnovich. The Orioles were also able to add a young lefty, 22-year-old Easton Lucas, when they traded Villar to the Marlins. With a continued focus on adding young pitching, Baltimore added two more young right-handers via waivers. The encouraging news is the lineup is full of young athletes and seem to be further along in the rebuild than 2019’s record indicates. Davis is the only starter in the lineup over 27 years old, and with Trey Mancini on the IL due to a battle with cancer and expected to miss most of 2020, Renato Nuñez and Anthony Santander are leading this youth movement. This rotation scares me, though, with John Means (3.60 ERA) being the only projected starter with an ERA under 4.76 in 2019. Chris Davis (finally) is off the books after the 2022 season, which will help the club make more valuable moves.
2020 Team MVP: RF Anthony Santander
2020 Team Cy Young: SP John Means
2020 Rookie Watch: 1B/OF Ryan Mountcastle
Boston Red Sox
SP Martin Perez, OF Kevin Pillar, IF Jose Peraza, OF Alex Verdugo,
2B Jeter Downs
RF Mookie Betts, SP David Price, SP Rick Porcello, UTIL Brock Holt, C Sandy Leon,
IF Eduardo Nuñez
From World Series Champions in 2018 to General Manager and Manager being dismissed and stars Betts and Price being traded in a financially-motivated deal, 2020 has already been quite eventful for Boston. Let’s be clear, this lineup is still deep, returning stars like Martinez, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. Adding Peraza and Verdugo will help replace departed production as well as help with the financial reset. The rotation doesn’t excite me, but in a reset (not rebuild, to be clear) year there’s always a unit that seems to lack. The good news is, right-handed prospects Bryan Mata and Tanner Houck can help the big league team in 2020 and fight for a rotation spot in 2021.
2020 Team MVP: DH J.D. Martinez
2020 Team Cy Young: SP Nathan Eovaldi
2020 Rookie Watch: 1B/3B Bobby Dalbec
New York Yankees
SP Gerrit Cole
SS Didi Gregorius, DH Edwin Encarnacion, RP Dellin Betances, C Austin Romine,
OF Cameron Maybin, SP CC Sabathia
The Yankees are the easy, trendy pick to represent the American League in the World Series. After winning 103 games and advancing to the ALCS, they hit the defending AL Champs right on the chin, signing Cole away. Will it be enough to tilt the scales in October? Even with the losses of Gregorius and Encarnacion, the lineup is incredibly dangerous top to bottom. Gleyber Torres and Gary Sanchez hit 38 and 34 home runs, respectively. Bret Gardner, Aaron Judge, D.J. LeMahieu, Luke Voit and Gio Urshela all hit over 20 home runs in 2019, and they’ll also be getting a healthy Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Andujar back after both missed most of 2019 due to injury. The bullpen lost Betances to their cross-town rival Mets, but the back end remains elite. Luis Severino had Tommy John surgery and will miss the 2020 season and possibly parts of 2021, but a rotation with Cole, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and JA Happ can still get the job done for an offense that averaged 5.8 runs per game and hit 306 home runs collectively.
2020 Team MVP: SS Gleyber Torres
2020 Team Cy Young: SP Gerrit Cole
2020 Rookie Watch: RHP Deivi Garcia
Tampa Bay Rays
3B Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, OF Hunter Renfroe, 1B/OF Jose Martinez,
OF Manuel Margot
RF Avisail Garcia, C Travis d’Arnaud, IF Eric Sogard, OF Guillermo Heredia,
1B Jesus Aguilar, CL Emilio Pagan
If you’re a general manager and looking for examples of how to build on and improve on a 96-win season, look no further than the offseason of the 2020 Rays. The production lost versus the production and potential gained is so lopsided in their favor. The Rays continue to be crafty, forward thinkers, playing it safe for the future while also remaining competitive year-to-year, with eight winning seasons, two division titles and five trips to the postseason in the last 12 years. It almost seems unfair for a small-market team to be this consistent. Tsutsugo can hit well, play multiple positions and could challenge for AL Rookie of the Year. The rotation is sneaky good, with a balance between veterans (Charlie Morton and Blake Snell) and youth (Tyler Glasnow and Trevor Richards). Tampa Bay did lose their closer Pagan in the Margot deal, but have 15 combined saves from 2019 between Diego Castillo and Jose Alvarado returning. The two and Nick Anderson expect to battle for the closer role.
2020 Team MVP: OF Austin Meadows
2020 Team Cy Young: SP Charlie Morton
2020 Rookie Watch: 3B Yoshitomo Tsutsugo
Toronto Blue Jays
SP Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP Tanner Roark, 1B Travis Shaw, SP Shun Yamaguchi,
SP Chase Anderson
1B Justin Smoak
Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio and Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. give the Blue Jays a lot to be excited about, and will for a long time. Teoscar Hernandez and Rowdy Tellez are not far behind that group and will add great depth to the lineup. With the core of the lineup set, the Blue Jays focused on adding quality to the rotation this offseason. Toronto was in on just about every top of the rotation pitcher available before reaching an agreement with the former Dodger Ryu. Roark and Anderson will join Ryu in the rebuilt rotation, with Japanese import Yamaguchi and rookie Nate Pearson each holding an outside chance at the five-spot. This team is still a couple of years out from being a real threat in the East, but a final record at or near .500 has to be considered a successful season after winning just 67 games in 2019.
2020 Team MVP: 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr
2020 Team Cy Young: SP Hyun-Jin Ryu
2020 Rookie Watch: SP Nate Pearson
Let's take a look at our predictions for the 2020 season:
2020 Regular Season Predictions - AL East
NY Yankees 39-21 --
Tampa Bay 36-24 2.0
Boston 31-29 8.0
Toronto 28-32 11.0
Baltimore 22-38 17.0