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Matt Provenzano Previews the AL East

First: Boston Red Sox

It seems to get lost because they were eliminated in the first round of the 2016 playoffs, but the Red Sox were one of the best clubs in the league last year. Sure, they may have lost the eminent David Ortiz to retirement, and no one really knows if Rick Porcello is that good moving forward, but they also added Chris Sale, so you win some and you lose some, I guess. This is one of the best teams in the league once again, and even if Pablo Sandoval, Mitch Moreland, and the catcher glut don’t resolve themselves, they have more than enough depth to compensate. If everything goes right, and it might, this could be one of the best teams, on both sides of the ball, of the past decade.

Second: Toronto Blue Jays

There’s no question that this isn’t as good as, say, the 2015 iteration of the Jays, but this is still a formidable club. Aaron Sanchez, Marco Estrada, and Marcus Stroman will suffice as far as pitching goes, and the bullpen will sit upon the shoulders of the young phenom Roberto Osuna. They still have Josh Donaldson, perennial MVP candidate, Troy Tulowitzki, and franchise player Jose Bautista, so offensively, this will be a top-ten team. I can’t see them eclipsing the Sox, but with their contention window closing by the day, this juggernaut may have one last gasp yet.

Third: Baltimore Orioles

If the Blue Jays merely survive pitching wise, the Orioles are a different story. Their fate hinges on the likes of Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, and Wade Miley, only one which I’d even be comfortable drafting on to my fantasy team right now. They have their star, Manny Machado, so the if rest of the club is able to hold it together, they may be able to make a run at the Wild Card.

Fourth: New York Yankees

These are not your father’s Yankees. In fact, no one really knows whose Yankees these are. Headlined by Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius, Dellin Betances, and Masahiro Tanaka, this team bears zero resemblance to one of yesteryear, and that’s good! This raises a ton of question marks–the pitching is inconsistent and oft injured, and there isn’t a single star position player (unless you feel Sanchez is now)–but it also means there’s a lot of upside. They could finish in last place and I wouldn’t be surprised, and I also wouldn’t be surprised if they finished in first or second. The sky’s the limit, but the cellar isn’t that far off, either.

Fifth: Tampa Bay Rays

As of now, who is considered an above-average player on the Rays? Kevin Kiermaier, for sure. Evan Longoria is close, for another; he’s probably a three-win player. Oh yeah, and Chris Archer. Other than, this is a team of cast-away’s, as one would expect from a post-Price/Shields era Rays team. They have Mariners rejects like Brad Miller and Nick Franklin, a fallen top prospect in Steven Souza Jr, and they’re making a bet that Matt Duffy repeats his 2015. I’m a huge fan of their pitching depth–Alex Colome, Alex Cobb, Jose De Leon, and Blake Snell, for example–so there’s a chance this is one of the best pitching teams in the American League. But scoring runs could be hard to come by, making it pretty tough to compete in the AL East.

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Matt Provenzano is a recent graduate of Cornell University, where he studied Information Science and Law and Society. He has been a Staff Writer at SB Nation's Pinstripe Alley since 2013, and a baseball fan since 2002.

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