The 2020 American League East Division is the New York Yankees’ to lose. The Bronx Bombers won the division a year ago with a 103-59 record finishing seven games ahead of their closest competition – the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays will likely be the only real competition for the Yankees in 2020.
Baltimore will look to avoid 100-plus losses for the third consecutive season and Boston is in transition. The Red Sox traded former AL MVP Mookie Betts and LHP David Price to the Dodgers. That will have an impact on Boston’s fortunes - or lack of – in 2020.
Huge Favorites in the East
The sure bet is on the Yankees, a -325 favorite to win the division.
New York has a murderous lineup for opposing pitchers. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are two of the best sluggers in MLB. The key will be keeping both healthy.
Judge and Giancarlo
Judge missed 60 games last year, but still hit .272 and 27 home runs. Stanton missed all but 18 games last season due to a number of injuries. Stanton hit 38 homers and drove in 100 runs in 2018, his first season in New York.
The Yankees went out in the offseason and added ace right-hander Gerrit Cole to the pitching rotation. Cole went 20-5 last year in Houston and is one of the best in baseball.
Combined with James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and J.A. Happ; Cole gives the Yankees the best starting rotation in the division and possibly MLB. Paxton, Tanaka, and Happ combined for 38 wins last year.
MLB 2020 Season Preview (Predictions/Standings/World Series)
The Value Pick
Tampa Bay made the MLB playoffs last year qualifying as one of the two American League wild cards.
They added Japanese slugger Yoshitomo Tsutsugo and former St. Louis 1B Jose Martinez in the offseason. The Rays also acquired Hunter Renfroe from San Diego. Renfroe hit just .216 but he blasted 33 home runs.
The improved offense should mix well with a pitching staff that is solid. It’s one of the reasons why the Rays make for a strong value pick at +275.
Charlie Morton went 16-6 last year and Blake Snell, while he struggled in 2019, was the 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner. Snell won 21 games and had an ERA of 1.89 in 2018.
Then, there is Tyler Glasnow. The 6-foot-8-inch Glasnow was off to a strong start last season when injuries derailed his season. He finished 6-1 with a 1.78 ERA.
The new bats in Tampa will give the Rays a shot at overtaking the Yankees. If there is any chance of an upset in the AL East, Tampa Bay is the best bet.
Just two seasons removed from a World Series title, Boston appears to be in rebuilding mode. They shipped off Betts and Price, two of their best players, and the Red Sox continue to look for ways to shed salary off the league’s highest payroll.
Ace pitcher Chris Sale will miss the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in March. That leaves Eduardo Rodriguez, who went 19-6 last year, and Nathan Eovaldi – who has won more than 10 games in a season just once in his eight-year career – as Boston’s top two pitchers.
At +950 to win the division, the Red Sox are a serious longshot.
The Rest of the Pack
As for the rest of the division, the Orioles are simply not a play at all at +7000. Baltimore went 54-108 in 2019 and 47-115 the year before. The Orioles have finished in last place in the division for three straight seasons. To get an idea of Baltimore’s futility, consider the Orioles have finished either fourth or fifth in the AL East in 16 of the past 22 seasons.
As for Toronto, the Blue Jays are probably a year or two away from being a contender.
They have rising stars in SS Bo Bichette, 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio. Toronto also signed last year’s MLB ERA leader in Hyun-Jin Ryu (2.32), Japanese right-hander Shun Yamaguchi, and veteran pitcher Tanner Roark.
At +3500 this season, the Blue Jays are putting the right pieces together and may be worthy of a small wager, but 2020 is likely not the year for Toronto.
A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.
His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.
When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.