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Handicapping the AL East Race: Playoff Percentages and Keys for the rest of the Season

Now that the All-Star break and the trade deadline are both in the rear view mirror, the baseball season finally is getting serious. And as the division races heat up, there’s no better place to find the action than in the storied American League East.

 

Even with the YankeesRed Sox rivalry all but out of the picture for the time being thanks to a dismal Red Sox season, the AL East is becoming baseball’s most hotly contested division. The Toronto Blue Jays have surged into first place after trading for star SS Troy Tulowitzki, but the Yankees remain close behind. There’s still plenty of baseball to go, however, and almost anyone could wind up in the playoffs. Here’s our team-by-team rundown of the AL East, including MLB.com playoff odds and our own perspective.

 

Toronto Blue Jays

64-52

Postseason percentage: 93.7%

Since trading for Troy Tulowitzki on July 27, the Blue Jays look absolutely unstoppable. They’ve gone 12-1 with Tulo on the team, and their one loss came in a game he didn’t start. That winning streak won’t last forever, of course, but the Blue Jays have put themselves in a great position. They have a 93.7% chance of making the playoffs and have a half-game lead over the Yankees. At this point in the season, Toronto won’t need much more luck to bury the Yanks for good.

 

Toronto’s chances look even rosier when you recall that they looked great (the best in the division, arguably) on paper before the season. Now they’ve improved further and are surging. The rest of the division was relatively quiet at the trade deadline, so the AL East now seems to be Toronto’s to lose. It’s time to see what they’ll do with the opportunity.

 

New York Yankees

62-51

Postseason percentage: 86.3%

What has happened to the Yankees isn’t so much a matter of what the Yankees haven’t done as it is about what the Blue Jays have done. The Yankees win percentage – .549 – is basically what it was at the All Star Break (.545), when they had a four-game lead. You can criticize the Yankees for not getting better, but you can’t really say that they’ve gotten worse: .550 is about where this team belongs. Unfortunately, the Blue Jays have stepped up their games tremendously, and Yankees are in danger of being left in the dust.

 

The Yankees still have a chance to win their division, but unless the Blue Jays regress soon (and severely), the Yanks’ berth may have to come as a Wild Card. The Wild Card should be in reach, though. Despite a bit of a rough patch and their newfound spot in the shadow of Toronto, the Yankees remain a playoff-caliber team.

 

Tampa Bay Rays

58-56

Postseason percentage: 31.4%

Tampa Bay led the division at times during May and June, but they haven’t looked good since. They’ve dipped down below .500 a few times recently, despite being nine games above that mark at their peak. A 31.4% playoff percentage seems generous, and the division crown seems unreachable.

 

Baltimore Orioles

57-56

Postseason percentage: 17.0%

The Baltimore Orioles looked great on paper, but the results haven’t gone their way. They sit slightly behind the Rays in a very disappointing third place, and their playoff percentage is almost half that of the Tampa squad. They may be closer than that in real life, but the reality is that neither of these teams is likely to catch New York or Toronto for a shot at the Wild Card, much less the division.

 

Boston Red Sox

50-64

Postseason percentage: 0.0%

The less said about this year’s dismal Red Sox, the better. Their playoff percentage is Bluto Blutarsky’s GPA: zero point zero. Last place, broken, and low on pitching is no way to go through life, son.

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  1. Pingback: Handicapping the NL Central: Playoff Odds and Perspective For Every Team in 2015’s Toughest Division - Baseball Reflections

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