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  • Writer's pictureMason Dalley

2024 MLB Preview: AL East

PREVIEWS, PROPS, AND MORE!

AL East
MLB.com

The Division I know best has turned on its head. Let's rip this preview



Boston Red Sox

Raffy Devers
Winslow Townson/Getty Images


2023 Record: 78-84(78-84 ATS)

Batting WAR: 13.6(22nd)

Pitching WAR: 13.8(20th)


Key additions: RHP Lucas Giolito, OF Tyler O'Neill, 2B Vaughn Grissom


Key departures: LHP Chris Sale, DH/1B Justin Turner, OF Alex Verdugo, LHP James Paxton, OF Adam Duvall.


2024 O/U: 77.5

2024 Division Odds: +1700

2024 AL Pennant Odds: +3000

2024 World Series Odds: +6500


The Red Sox are wading in a quagmire of mediocrity. Stuck in a malaise of winning 78 to 84 wins year over year over year, and for what? They're not spending like the Red Sox normally would. The Farm has no pitchers. It's a sad state of affairs at Fenway, which will be filled be people who go for the weekend and make a trip to Boston out of it. S olet's get to the lineup.


Fenway generates offense. It's impossible for the offense to be truly bad and for what it's worth, Rafael Devers became a one man army at points last season. He his a decent longshot MVP candidate if he could ever get his defense to just average. Tyler O'Neill and Trevor Story have great Fenway swings and should have some juice at the ballpark. Yoshida should also end up having another All-Star caliber season. The rest of the lineup is focused on taking next steps and youth development. Triston Casas should be competing for AL Silver Slugger at 1B, Jarren Duran should be taking another leap and show some more patience at the plate. Vaughn Grissom, Ceddanne Rafaela, and Wilyer Abreu are also looking to show improvement after showing signs of being starters at their respective positions. The Red Sox might even see Roman Anthony taking swings at the major league level and that would actually be the best development for the Sox this season.


The pitching staff is an abomination. An affront to my sensibilities. Brayan Bello is the only thing to look too when it comes to positivity from this staff. Everybody else on this staff is a known commodity that really has no room for growth. Another year of openers and some potentially whiny Nick Pivetta. Big Whoop.


Over or Under

Who cares? Under I guess. I just don't think the strategy of only one real starting pitcher is viable in the MLB. You need like 4 of those minimum.


Player Prop

Cedanne Rafaela has a real shot to win Rookie of the Year becasue he's starting up aty the MLB level and has Fenway to generate his offense in. +1200 is juicy.


New York Yankees

Soto
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports



2023 Record: 82-80(80-82 ATS)

Batting WAR: 14.6(20th)

Pitching WAR: 13.4(21st)




2024 O/U: 91.5

2024 Division Odds: +185

2024 AL Pennant Odds: +500

2024 World Series Odds: +1100


I am Red Sox fan and deeply disdain Aaron Boone. I'm not too crazy a hater to deny that Juan Soto is going to be amazing getting to pull the ball over that little league fence in right. Aaron Judge just needs to play 150 games to be in the MVP conversation any given year.


That being said the Yankees are hilariously over valued on gambling websites. I know it's because people see the name and remember the 90's and then place their bets, but good lord this team will be lucky to win 85 games, let alone compete for a pennant.


Starting with the top, it's undeniable how great Judge and Soto are, They're both 6.0 WAR caliber MVP candidates, especially if Judge plays 150 games, which is easier said than done. Soto you can count on to do his thing no matter the team he's on. But there's a reason why Baseball reference projected the Yankees to only win 72 games and only have an 86 win best case scenario. The rest of the lineup is genuinely bad. Gleyber Torres is by far and away the 3rd best bat in their lineup and that isn't tenable for a team that has playoff aspirations. Alex Verdugo is a moody, unreliable player that will just show up to the ballpark when he feels like it in the team's most important series of the season. I'm sure Aaron Boone who spent the better part of two seasons cowering in fear of Josh Donaldson and playing him so that feelings didn't get hurt will get the most out of another malcontent. Anthony Rizzo might be fine. I have no idea what to expect from him after the Yankees just had him playing through a concussion. DJ LeMahieu is starting the season on the IL. Anthony Volpe was an awful hitter last season. Like Javier Baez bad. There's nowhere to go but up, but up can't be counted on when the only prospect from the Baby Bombers 2017 team that has panned out is Judge. Trent Grisham is a 9 hole hitter and nothing more. Jose Trevino getting an OBP higher than .300 would be a minor miracle an you can't really have that in your number 1 catcher. Who knows if Giancarlo Stanton will actually play and how him eating up the DH slot damages their lineup flexibility. This team isn't much different than last year. If Judge isn't an MVP candidate, this team will be genuinely bad. Even with Soto. If Judge is an MVP candidate, they'll be lucky to be a wild card team, because the Yankees lost their biggest strength over the past 5 or so seasons, the Bullpen.


A trade for Juan Soto, even in a contract year, was always going to be costly. Injury luck has made it incredibly costly to a point of a potential lost season. Gerrit Cole is missing the first two months of the season minimum, and with how the Yankees just sort of lie to the public about injuries, I wouldn't be shocked if he's gone for the season. This is devastating for a team that just traded their most reliable fireman and an incredibly reliable left in Michael King and Wandy Peralta. Carlos Rodon should be better but he has a spotty track record. It took a long time for him to break out with the White Sox and he had a magical prove it year with the Giants where showed length in his starts he had never previously shown, and his pitches danced. 2022 and 2023 account for 11.2 of his 18.0 career WAR, and for a 31 year old pitcher that's not particularly encouraging, especially since Rodon had his worst season in his career at Yankee stadium. It just not might be his ballpark. Nestor Cortes also looks like a one year wonder. The Yankees seem to have built the front of their rotation out of 30+ year olds with spotty injury history and guys who can't give you more than 150 IP at this point in their careers. It's a bold strategy giving Marcus Stroman a bag heading into his age 33 season where he hasn't gone more than 135 IP the past two seasons, and was performing better in what's a much shallower pool of quality teams in the NL. This group makes much more sense with Cole available, but without him, I think a gassed bullpen is going to become an issue by mid-May. Clay Holmes, Caleb Ferguson, and Jomayjam Loaisiga are fantastic relievers, they just don't have room for error and will have to likely giver 70 IP a piece. They can't afford not to.



Over or Under

Under. This team will be lucky to win 85 games.


Player Prop

Juan Soto OVER 35.5 dingers. He's in a little league park. If he doesn't hit 40 it should be considered a disappointment



Toronto Blue Jays

Vladito
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki



2023 Record: 89-73(74-88 ATS)

Batting WAR: 25.8(8th)

Pitching WAR: 18.6(5th)



Key departures: 3B Matt Chapman, DH Brandon Belt, UTIL Whit Merrifield, LHP Hyun Jin Ryu, RHP Jordan Hicks


2024 O/U: 86.5

2024 Division Odds: +400

2024 AL Pennant Odds: +950

2024 World Series Odds: +2000


The Blue Jays are the definition of insanity. They've been running back the same core, winning about 90 games, losing in the Playoffs, and expecting a different outcome, year over year over year. The lineup is really good. Vladito and Bo Bichette are going to be All-Stars and look cool doing it. Alejandro Kirk is an OBP Short King and you can count on him to contribute. George Springer in his advancing age is still a threat to do damage at the plate and his subtle decline isn't as harmful as it could be because Daulton Varsho is a high level outfielder. Justin Turner can be the elder statesmen this team needs as he DH's. Isiahh Kiner-Falefa, Kevin Kiermaier, Cavan Biggio, and Danny Jansen are great high level depth that will allow for great matchup platooning. This team just needs to break through and threaten 100 games to be taken seriously at this point. They can do it with this solid lineup, but the real stars of the show are up next.


I don't think this staff is better than Seattle's, but it's comparable to Minnesota's and that's very high praise. Kevin Gausman and Chris Bassitt will give the bullpen days off every time they go out there, Gausman especially as he chases an AL Cy Young award. Bassitt isn't the electric factory that Gausman is but he devours innings and maintains respectable ERA and FIP while doing it. Jose Berios has electric stuff that can play at any ballpark, and Yusei Kikuchi is as good a 4th starter that you'll find. The Biggest question the pitching staff faces is if Alek Manoah can just be 70% of what he was in 2022. He just ahs to be slightly above average as a 5th starter to elevate this roster. If the rotation does its job, you then get the door shut on you by a fantastic bullpen. Jordan Romano is a lunatic in all the ways a closer should be. Erik Swanson, Yimi Garcia, Chad Green, Ricky Tidermann, and Yimi Garcia can all be firemen depending on the matchup, and allow Romano a clear path to close the door. They're deep on this pitching staff, and just need the offense to give them 4-6 runs a game.


Over or Under

Over, I can't see them winning fewer than 88-92 games.


Player Prop

Vladito OVER 96.5 RBI. He's gonna drive in 100 minimum.





Tampa Bay Rays

Randy
MARCA


2023 Record: 99-63(85-76 ATS)

Batting WAR: 32.9(4th)

Pitching WAR: 20.6(2nd)


Key additions: RHP Ryan Pepiot, OF Jonny DeLuca, INF José Caballero, OF Richie Palacios, RHP Phil Maton, RHP Chris Devenski (re-signed), LHP Tyler Alexander



2024 O/U: 84.5

2024 Division Odds: +550

2024 AL Pennant Odds: +1500

2024 World Series Odds: +3500


The Rays lineup is still really good. Yandy DIaz, Isaac Paredes, Randy Arozarena, and Brandon Lowe are all very good. They all have 4 WAR potential at their absolute best. I think they'll all settle around 3 WAR but they'll all contribute to wins. Jose Lowe and Jose Siri are also solid vets. Everything else is a question mark but as long as that top 6 is healthy and plays around 140 games, the offense will be good. They'll be competitive. Be on the look out for the Junior Caminero call up where he ends up a star.


The pitching staff is fascinating. I love how Tampa operates. Zach Eflin is a legit Cy Young candidate and should continue to be stellar coming off a career 2023. Aaron Civale, Taj Bradley, Zach Littell, and Ryan Pepiot will be opening the rest of the games, giving 4-6 innings, and setting up the rest of the sickos in there bullpen for success. Pete Fairbanks, Shane Baz, Jason Adam, Jeffery Springs, Colin Poche, Shawn Armstrong, Garret Cleavinger, and Kevin Kelly are ridiculous. The Bullpen depth is absurd and will keep them in every game. Baz in particular can really shine in an Andrew Miller fireman type role that can have him in consideration for reliever of the year. This pitching staff is the most unique in all of MLB and it just works for them.


Over or Under

Over. I can't see them not in the Wildcard mix


Player Prop

Pete Fairbanks for reliever of the year at +1000 is such a solid bet




Baltimore Orioles

Gunnar
Terrence Williams/AP



2023 Record: 101-61(96-66 ATS)

Batting WAR: 23.1(11th)

Pitching WAR: 28.2(6th)


Key additions: RHP Corbin Burnes, RHP Craig Kimbrel


Key departures: 2B Adam Frazier, RHP Kyle Gibson, OF Aaron Hicks


2024 O/U: 90.5

2024 Division Odds: +185

2024 AL Pennant Odds: +550

2024 World Series Odds: +1100


How does a team get better when the year before they won 101 games? They get a year older. The Baltimore Orioles are a burgeoning fixture atop the AL East, and all they hae to do is stay on the right track. Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman are legitimate MVP Candidates and are in year 2 and 3 respectively. Jordan Westburg has a year under his belt and the inevitable Jackson Holliday call up are going to bolster the lineup even further. This young core is buoyed by the veteran group of Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander, Austin Hays, and Ryan Mountcastle. They're young, fast and make winning plays over and over again. They're all a year more experienced, and know what it takes to get to the dance, all they have to do now is learn the steps.


Learning thoser dance steps means trading for a Cy Young Winner. With Kyle Bradish starting the year on the IL, it was never a better time to trade for Corbin Burnes. Burnes and Grayson Rodriguez form a playoff top and will be joined by Bradish as early as June. John Means is a quality arm that is looking to regain his frontline form, and he'll be provided that opportunity by innings eating extraordinaires Dean Kremer. The Bullpen led by Yennier Cano could stand to be better, but they're a solid group with Keegin Akin, Danny Coulumbe, and Cionel Perez are good pitchers. I expect them to bolster it some more to prepare for a deep run, but with how dynamic the offense will end up being, there's no reason to think the pitching staff won't be operating with a cushion.


Over or Under

Over. This team is going to win close to 100 games again


Player Prop

Gunnar Henderson or Adley Rutschman at +1500 to win MVP. Take your pick



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