Written by John Kowalczik
At the beginning of the season, we explored what it would take for each team in the AL East to win the division. Since then, there have been a lot of changes, both good and bad, so we will explore how each teams outlook has changed, including odds to win the division.
Odds powered by Fanduel.
1. New York Yankees (-900)
In April, the Yankees had just taken a lead in the division, and said their hitters were not scary anymore so it would be pitching that would be the key to winning. I was wrong. Aaron Judge now leads the league with 25 homeruns, is second in the AL with 50 RBIs, and has an OPS over 1.000. Anthony Rizzo also has 19 homeruns and .519 slugging percentage, Giancarlo Stanton has 14 homeruns, and Gleyber Torres has 13 homers. As a team they have won 16 of 19 in June by a combined score of 119 to 54 where they are seen by most as the best team in the league. With a 12-game lead in the division it may time to start focusing on the wild card for everyone else.
2. Toronto Blue Jays (+950)
In April Toronto was also in second place then but were the favorites to win the division at +135 (NYY was +240 then). The Blue Jays have stayed relatively steady, going 14-12 in May and are .500 in June so far. The offense has been there with 3 guys at 10 homeruns or more (Guerrero with 17, Springer with 13, and Bichette with 10). They are also getting quality starts from guys like Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman to continue hanging on to the second spot in the division for now. They are also the top spot in the AL wild card right now but with Boston and Cleveland on the rise that could likely change soon.
3. Boston Red Sox (+4500)
In April the outlook for the Red Sox started looking bleak, then something changed. Since being swept by the White Sox at the beginning of May they have only lost one more series, including beating Houston, sweeping Seattle in 4 games, getting revenge on Chicago, and a west coast road trip where they went 8-2. The depth on the mound has been challenged without Whitlock, Eovaldi, and Sale but the new guys have stepped up, including Josh Winckowski, Kutter Crawford, and Tanner Houck possibly cementing himself as the closer. The veterans Nick Pivetta, Michael Wacha, and Rich Hill have also been stellar. On the offensive side, Rafael Devers is looking like a leading candidate for MVP, Trevor Story has found his grove, and JD Martinez & Xander Bogaerts continue to be reliable as they have in past seasons. The challenge for the Red Sox has been games outside the division do not give a chance to make up ground, but between now and the end of July there will be 2 series each against NYY, TOR, and TB.
4. Tampa Bay Rays (+3500)
The Rays are battling, and in any other division the story would be a little different. Even at their current record they would only be 0.5 games back in the AL Central and 6.5 games back in the AL West, but currently find themselves 13 out and heading the wrong direction thanks to losses against NYY. They have yet to win a series against the Yankees in 2022 and are .500 against division rivals (still far better than Boston). The pitching is still there for Tampa, with starters like Shane McClanahan and Corey Kluber in front of solid bullpen. The Rays struggle with the lack of one closer like the Red Sox, in a position we are used to seeing J.P. Feyereisen more. He only has one save and no one has more than 5 for a team with a combined 20 saves. At the plate, Tampa is more like we are used to seeing as no one stands out as an MVP but the team combines to score runs via guys like Ji-Man Choi, Manuel Margot, and rookie Isaac Paredes. With that being said I did pick Randy Arozarena as a potential surprise MVP candidate, which is looking a lot less likely and Wander Franco has been less us per-human than first thought. No one in the regular starters is batting more than a few points over .300 (Margot and Ramirez are .302 and .301, respectively) and the Rays have scored the fewest runs in the division.
5. Baltimore Orioles (+250000)
That is not a fat-finger, the Orioles have gone from +25000 to +250000 to win the division. With that being said, they are hanging on closer than they have in some past seasons. Currently at 30 wins in 2022, they got their 30th win in game 68. In the past 3 full seasons (not including 2020) they needed 90 or more games to reach this mark, including getting their 30th win in game 104 in 2018. The Orioles have managed half those wins in the toughest division in the AL and are .500 in June so far, including a series win over TB and split series in Toronto. I said in April it would take a miracle to take the division, and the odds may still tell this story, but they are not the walk-over easy wins they used to be. One day it may be their chance again in the AL East.
Let’s see if anyone can catch the New York Yankees now!