It's just about the midway point in baseball's marathon season and it's time to reflect on the first 80 or so games of 2014 and cast some predictions for how the rest will shape up.
I'll publish two articles that will round out every division in baseball as well as the MVP and Cy Young races in either league. Today, one of the divisions I'll look at is the American League East.
Here's how they will finish...
1) New York Yankees
The Yankees entered Friday just three games out of first place despite a torrid run from the division-leading Blue Jays and plenty of injuries in their own camp. The story for New York - much like last season - has been the ability of relative no-names to produce for a team hovering around .500. But I think the reinforcements will make a difference down the stretch this season.
Whether it's been Yangervis Solarte or Dellin Betances, the Yankees have been fortunate to get some big-time efficiency out of some unlikely corners of their roster. And they've stayed in the thick of the race despite injuries to CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda - who will be back at some point in the second half. Carlos Beltran appears healthy again after the scare of potential surgery and has yet to put together that hot stretch everyone knows he's capable of. With help on the way and the inevitably deep pockets that always have the ability to add a piece for a stretch run in August and September, the Yankees will win the East.
2) Baltimore Orioles
I actually see the Yankees winning this division somewhat easily with Baltimore and Boston the next two in line. Kevin Gausman looks like the type of young ace Baltimore has gone without for so long.
3) Boston Red Sox
The series the Red Sox are playing in New York as I write this may very well determine the direction of the rest of their season. Ultimately, Boston has too many pieces to continue playing this badly. And I think they'll surge beyond Toronto, at least. But they dug themselves too deep of a hole to climb back into the race.
4) Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays have maintained a small lead in the division thus far, but a run of injuries has hit and it feels like a losing run will too. Much like last year, Toronto had its big run early in the season. It's only a matter of time - and maybe one more injury - until the Blue Jays lose a grasp on their quick start.
5) Tampa Bay Rays
Certainly not the worst team in this division based on personnel, but the Rays' horrendous start will force them to sell at the deadline. And then they may be.
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