From 1998 to 2007, the Yankees and Red Sox took the first two places in the AL East each year, only once (the Blue Jays finished second to the Red Sox in 2006). The two clubs' vast departmental dominance rendered useless a number of successful seasons in Toronto and perhaps the biggest factor in the 2011 MLB decision to add a second wildcard team in each league. As the playoff field widened, the new system also increased the importance of divisional championships and made sure that no runner-up would sail in first place through September. Although this switch appeared to promise annual Yankee / Red Sox appearances in October, he forged the skids for Baltimore, Toronto and Tampa Bay. Last year was the first season since & # 39; 09 that both Boston and New York made the playoffs.
However, it seems to have been the beginning of something ̵
Boston Red Sox (55-27)
The last year's club was won by all the teams at AL outhored. This ended the offensive as sixth in the league, a fine but disappointing record, especially since the two teams that led the ALCS, Houston and New York in homers and runs to the gate. This year's squad, with support from J. D. Martinez (25 HR) and an out-of-the-moment outburst from Mookie Betts (20 HR, a .338 / .428 / .684 line), is in second place in the AL and first on the OPS. Andrew Benintendi (.290 / .374 / .519) has the kind of season he expected last year. Mitch Moreland, who usually succeeds before the break, has his best first half of all time (.291 / .359 / .549), and Xander Bogaerts has already surpassed last year's home series in less than half the number of appearances.
Your pitching has also improved. Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel remain their everlasting selves, but David Price is well again and Rick Porcello is thriving as it is a balanced year. (When will Porcello have the good sense to suspend every other season?) And no bullpen has saved a higher percentage of his chances. Sure, there are some disappointments here: Dustin Pedroia and Drew Pomeranz have been injured for a long time, and Christian Vazquez and Jackie Bradley Jr. have taken an offensive move. But these are insurmountable challenges; All pieces are here for a run deep into October when the baseball gods cooperate this time.
New York Yankees (52-26)
Is this Yankee crew happy or unhappy? Hard to say. Let's start with the bad breaks. Giancarlo Stanton's .847 OPS is 70 points south of its career average as Marlin and 160 points worse than last season's MVP season. (Although Stanton's June was by far the best month.) Yankee's first basemen have produced the league's third-worst OPS, thanks to the bouts of Greg Bird, Tyler Austin, and Neil Walker. Catcher Gary Sanchez had a .291 OBP before a groin strain forced him to the DL. Promising left-back Jordan Montgomery made only six starts before suffering an elbow injury that required surgery by Tommy John. Sonny Gray and Masahiro Tanaka have joined forces to form a 4.76 ERA. Relief ace Tommy Kahnle had to be demoted to a minor.
But for 108 wins the pace would not have come if luck were not on their side. Luis Severino is one of the two or three most dominant pitches of the AL – he holds the hits for a .254 OBP and an average of six and two thirds innings per trip. The Yankees have gone 15-2 in his starts. The rookie infielders Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar have teamed up for 25 homers, and the stray Didi Gregorius has another 15 chips. With 20 homers and a .397 OBP, Aaron Judge has not slipped much of his mystical rookie year. And the Bullpen has kept opposing rackets to a .601 OPS, the stingiest character in the majors. As in Boston, yes, there are untapped benefits, and there are one or two holes to fill. (Experts have run the Yankees in Toronto's JA Happ or another starter, but I'm wondering if a first baseman like Happ's team-mate Justin Smoak could be more meaningful.) However, it's hard to call their season until now anything but a Triumph.
Tampa Bay Rays (39-41)
If you look at this roster, you see a lot of clichés from the altercation. They see a tank is under way-hell, they've been swapping their near-field and their left-fielder to Seattle over a month ago. This is a collection of remanufactured parts, from discarded CJ Cron to injury-prone Matt Duffy to his lost and promising Infielder Daniel Robertson for an anonymous star rotation, anonymized by the fact that the Rays are not & # 39; They even have their starter pitchers start most games. Outside of Cron, there is no power hitter on this team, and there is no pitcher outside of Blake Snell who only scored one victory over the substitute.
But considering their running differential, it's a straight 0. This gang of Misfits has become an average ball club. Part of the ingenuity was to benefit the team: since the first use of the opener on May 19, the staff of Rays in baseball was the most productive. (It's not clear how much credit this novelty deserves, Tampa Bay's team ERA has since been in games without an opener less than games with one.) But perhaps the opener is less symbolic of the valuable cunningness of the role Rays as the performances of the men who were asked to fill them. The unannounced Ryne Stanek, a 26-year-old rightsholder, has a 1.85 ERA in 24.1 innings of work. Wilmer Font, unloaded earlier this year by the Dodgers and Oakland, has a 1.64 ERA in 22 innings since arriving in Tampa. Can the Rays continue to find pitchers with 20 good innings? I dont know. But I know that: This is much easier than finding jugs with 200 good innings.
Toronto Blue Jays (37-43)
Entering 2018, off a disappointing 76-86 in 2017, the Jays faced a tricky election. In Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette they had two of the best prospects of the sport, building blocks for potential playoff teams in 2020 and beyond. They could have survived the season, piled up a few teenagers, saved some money. But they also had Russell Martin, J.A. Happ, Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki, veterans in their 30s with possibly enough in their tanks to pull the team to second place in the Wild Card. Because of this, the Jays decided not to rebuild in the offseason, even though they decided not to give a free agency.
The result was unfortunately a team that is not very good (among the AL teams they are among the best) allowed eighths in runs and penalty in runs) and is not well positioned for the future. Happ will make a fair return on the trading market, but Donaldson, who has been on the disabled list for a month and already has a calf injury and no return date, is unlikely to be traded. Meanwhile, it is unclear whether Tulowitzki will play at all this season and Martin's career seems to be functionally over. And things have barely gotten better for the teenagers. The 25-year-old starter Aaron Sanchez has been following his injured year 2017 with a patchy 2018, and the 27-year-old Marcus Stroman has been following his dominating 2017 with a so-so in 2018. (He also missed six weeks after an injury.) Roberto Osuna, 23 years younger than he was on administration since the beginning of May, was beaten last week with a 75-fold suspension for violating the Domestic Violence League. In early June, the Jays had considered calling Guerrero from Double-A, because that would have given the fans at least something to cheer on. But then he suffered a knee injury and even this weak hope disappeared.
Grade: D +
Baltimore Orioles (23-57)
Is there anything here that you like here? This team occupies 14th place in the AL and scores 14th in the AL for preventing them. I guess they deserve some praise, because they are not the royals that make up the rear in both categories. But this bunch is cheated beyond that. Chris Davis, who first hit .152 / .230 / .252 with below-average defense, has already made a -2.2 WAR. He has four seasons after this one-cowabunga under contract! Jonathan Schoop has a crater after his eruption in 2017 (.202 / .244 / .354). Adam Jones is out of reach to play in midfield. OK, Mark Trumbo has a career in the base year … at .322.
Moving to Pitching: Alex Cobb has a 6.75 ERA, and the O's are stuck with him by 2021. Andrew Cashner, signing on a two-year deal, was barely better (4.70 ERA), and I'm ashamed to include Chris Tillman's stats here. (To be fair, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman were alright.) It's hard to understand why management tried to get another, competitive year out of this core; Baltimore went down 33-41 after the break in & # 177, and this off-season seemed to be a good time to cut bait and move Manny Machado, Zach Britton (though Britton injured himself in late December) and others. Instead, Team All-In went to an unpopular class of free-agent pitchers, and they'll pay the price for a while. Just a great return to the date for Machado, with a top-top walk year, can save this chaos of a season.