The Tampa Bay Rays won the American League East in a landslide last season, running away by seven games in the truncated 60-game schedule. But the New York Yankees come into the 2021 campaign as the favorite to win the AL East title for the second time in three years.
DraftKings Sportsbook lists the Yankees as the -200 pick to win the division, though both the Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays could make some noise in the AL East.
New York Yankees (-200 to win AL East)
The Yankees boast one of the most talented rosters in the majors, even with an offseason where they didn’t break the bank on free agency outside of resigning second baseman DJ LeMahieu. Their lineup is powerful and deep, while the addition of Corey Kluber on a one-year, $11 million contract strengthens a starting rotation headed by Gerrit Cole.
|AL East Odds (via DraftKings Sportsbook)|
|New York Yankees: -200|
|Tampa Bay Rays: +350|
|Toronto Blue Jays: +350|
|Boston Red Sox: +2000|
|Baltimore Orioles: +5200|
New York’s biggest trouble in recent years has been staying healthy. Aaron Judge spent significant time on the IL again last year, with LeMahieu, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres, and many others losing time as well. If those injury troubles continue, the Yankees could again be vulnerable, even with their outstanding depth in most areas of the club.
Tampa Bay Rays (+350)
Tampa Bay was nearly unstoppable in the 2020 regular season, then ran through the AL playoffs and reached the World Series before losing to the Dodgers in six games. The defending AL East champions figure to be a major factor in the division again this year, but a few offseason changes could make it difficult to keep up with New York.
Wacha Wacha 🔥 today! pic.twitter.com/G0RZ9fz5nO
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) March 25, 2021
Critically, the Rays lost two of their star pitchers to free agency: Blake Snell and Charlie Morton. Tampa Bay brought in Michael Wacha and Chris Archer to add starting pitching depth, but it will be hard to be nearly as dominant as last year given the blows to the top of their rotation.
Toronto Blue Jays (+350)
The Blue Jays can hit with anyone and should pose trouble for opposing pitchers every day during the 2021 season. Toronto bolstered a lineup that already contained Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette by adding George Springer and Marcus Semien to the equation in the offseason.
🚨 THIS IS NOT A REPLAY 🚨
Bo just went yard AGAIN! pic.twitter.com/DfxPEfcV9I
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) March 24, 2021
But, the Blue Jays might have trouble stopping their opponents from scoring. Outside of Hyun Jin Ryu, there’s not much to be excited about in the Toronto rotation. If the team stays in contention until the trade deadline, adding a starter or two could make this roster very dangerous in the postseason.
AL East also-rans: Boston Red Sox (+2000), Baltimore Orioles (+5200)
The Red Sox should improve compared to 2020, when their wretched pitching staff sent them to the AL East basement with a 24-36 record. This year, Boston looks like the kind of team that will hang around in the wild-card race. Their rotation is still a major issue, especially if the team plays it safe with Chris Sale and it can’t find a way to bolster the bullpen.
Meanwhile, the Orioles remain in the middle of a rebuild, a position they seem to have been in for as long as most fans can remember. The good news is that Baltimore has built up a strong farm system that should produce some star talents in the next few years. The bad news: none of that talent figures to be ready for 2021, meaning the Orioles will likely finish in last place behind the four much stronger teams in the AL East.