This is the first of a six-part series reviewing the seasonal over/under for each team by division, starting with the AL East. Some of the typical terms I’m using are “comfortably,” “clear,” “inch” and “slide,” which will indicate my level of confidence for each pick. I’m looking for at least 18 out of 30 in order to play .600 baseball. The numbers used here are courtesy of the LVH sportsbook.
Baltimore: Under 69.5
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The Orioles lack the personnel to be a .500 team, even if they were in a bad division. It doesn’t help that they are in the best division in baseball. Their young pitching hasn’t developed at all, and their offense, which is very up and down to begin with, is starting the year with a couple of key injuries. The Orioles have a great following, but until further notice, are staring down a bottomless pit. They stay comfortably under the number.
Boston: Under 89.5
The Red Sox regroup after an epic collapse last year without a lot of change other than the manager who was basically pushed out. They are still very good at the top of the rotation if Clay Buchholz can stay healthy. They do have to deal with some uncertainty at the back of the rotation and in the bullpen with the loss of Jonathan Papelbon and the potential move to the rotation of Daniel Bard. Carl Crawford is banged up to start the year in an attempt to redeem himself from a disastrous first season with the Sox. I think Jacoby Ellsbury’s numbers take at least a slight dip coming off an MVP-caliber season. They also don’t have a starting-caliber shortstop or right fielder. Right now, they’re the third-best team in the division. They slide under the number by a couple of games.
New York: Over 93.5
The addition of Michael Pineda and the subtraction of A.J. Burnett should solidify the Yankee rotation. Burnett could be great at times, but at this point in his career, he is who he is and he puts too much of a strain on your pitching staff. The Yankees have an excellent bullpen, especially if Rafael Soriano has a bounce-back season. The Derek Jeter–Alex Rodriguez combo is getting old, but the Yankees only need them to be supplemental pieces to their offense. With the Yankees, you always have to factor in that if they need a player mid-year, they go get him. They inch past the number.
Tampa Bay: Over 87
The Rays offense is just good enough, still relying heavily on speed. And with the bullpen, cross your fingers that they pitch close to as well as they did last year. The bottom line for the Rays is starting pitching. It’s deep, dominant and should only get better with more experience. The Rays are currently run as well as any organization in baseball and still have some pieces left on the farm. The 87 is a light number for this roster, and they clear it by seven to 10 games.
Toronto: Over 80
The Jays are led by late-blooming superstar Jose Bautista, and their lineup has potential with Yunel Escobar, Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus on the up-tick. They would have been smart to bring in some proven protection for Bautista (see Carlos Quentin, who was obtained by the Padres for minimal value). They did deal with the White Sox bringing in closer Sergio Santos, who they hope, together with free agent Francisco Cordero, will solidify the back end. Ricky Romero is a front-line, starter but they will need improvement from the rest of the staff. On the fence with this number and tempted to call it a dead heat.