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State of the AL East: Return of the Rivalry

Yankees and Red Sox atop; who’da thunk it.

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As we enter June, the AL East race is close, but it also features some familiar faces at the top.

The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are the teams in position in this division. At least one of them was expected to be there.

That would be Boston, currently in second to the Yankees. Yet, first place was the expectation, not second, but the season remains young. A battle royale between a veteran Red Sox team and a young, up-and-coming Yankee team commences. It may not be like old times with Jeter, Ortiz, Millar, and Mariano back in the day, but it’s something.

About fifty games in, we size up the five participants.

State of the AL East: New York Yankees

Assuming they hold their course through September, the Yankees will be ahead of schedule. Few thought they were a destined playoff team in 2017. While it appears it’s possible now, there’s too much season left to know for sure.

What we do know is that the league hasn’t figured out Aaron Judge yet. He is the Major League home run leader with a .327 average. Judge probably won’t get there, but he’s on pace for a 55-homer season.

His team is getting better than expected starting pitching. Despite that, however, they’ve plateaued a bit at around 10 games over .500. The season has been a success so far, but you know what the definition of “success” is in the Bronx.

Overall Grade: A-
Trajectory: Steady.

State of the AL East: Boston Red Sox

Lately, the Red Sox have elevated their game to climb back into the divisional picture. This was supposed to be a wire-to-wire job by the Sox, seen as the best AL East team by far preseason. Yet, Boston started the year 21-21. In April, the Sox only scored 10 more runs than their opponents.

Importantly, Boston is also 10-12 against their own division. The question is why.

First, their offense is spotty. As of June 1, the Red Sox were second in batting average in the AL but dead last in home runs. They hit for average, not power, and the result is them being a middle-of-the-road offense.

Second, the pitching is fine, but not perfect. Cy Young winner Rick Porcello is pitching to an ERA over four this season, as is Drew Pomeranz. On the other end, Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez have been excellent. Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly are strong out of the bullpen, netting you an above-average staff.

Finally, the Red Sox defense is not up to par. This is the fourth-worst defense in MLB, with 39 errors through June 1. As such, Boston has allowed 20 unearned runs.

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