AL East teams Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees facing each other

Projecting the AL East Standings in 2023

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The AL East. One of baseball’s most historic divisions. Each team with its own storied history, and that history has made it one of the most entertaining divisions in pro sports. Looking ahead to the 2023 season, it seems that the AL East is wide-open… or is it? Using FanGraphs ZiPS, I’ll show you this season’s projections for win totals in the AL East – and why ZiPS thinks it’ll pan out the way it says it does. 

New York Yankees: 89-73

As expected, the Bronx Bombers are once again projected to finish first in their division. The Yanks had a great offseason: signing superstar pitcher Carlos Rodon to a 6-year/$102 million deal and returning much of the same roster that saw them win the division in the last go around. 

The Yankees are likely to have a starting lineup of: 

C Jose Trevino

1B Anthony Rizzo

2B Gleyber Torres

3B DJ Lemahieu

SS Oswald Peraza

LF Oswaldo Cabrera 

CF Harrison Bader

RF Aaron Judge

DH Giancarlo Stanton

This starting lineup has almost no holes, and top prospect Anthony Volpe is in the wings for shortstop if Oswald Peraza falters. Along with this starting lineup, the Yankees also carry veterans Aaron Hicks, Josh Donaldson, Kyle Higashioka, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa on the bench. 

The Yankees rotation should end up looking like this:

1) Gerrit Cole

2) Carlos Rodon

3) Nestor Cortes

4) Luis Severino

5) Frankie Montas

Similarly to their lineup, the Yankees rotation has virtually no holes. Cole, Rodon, and Cortes would all be aces in most other teams’ rotations. With such a strong rotation and lineup – and not to mention their elite bullpen headed by Clay Holmes – it makes sense why ZiPS projects the Yankees at first. If anything, the Yankees will likely blow past this conservatively projected 89-win total.

Toronto Blue Jays: 88-74

Finishing a game back from the Yankees are the Blue Jays. The Blue Jays made a late-season push to grab second in the AL East in 2022. They’re projected to the same spot in 2022, but I have my doubts. 

Their lineup will likely look like this:

C Alejandro Kirk/Danny Jansen

1B Vladimir Guerrero

2B Santiago Espinal

3B Matt Chapman

SS Bo Bichette

LF George Springer

CF Kevin Kiermaier

RF Daulton Varsho

DH Brandon Belt

The main changes the Blue Jays made in their starting lineup are the trading away of Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez while also bringing aboard Daulton Varsho. As a result, spots like CF, 2B, and DH make this lineup look a bit weak to start off this season. With that weakness, I wouldn’t bank on the Blue Jays finishing second again. 

The Blue Jays’ rotation should end up looking like this:

1) Alek Manoah

2) Kevin Gausman

3) Chris Bassitt

4) Jose Berrios

5) Yusei Kikuchi

While the offense doesn’t look as good as it could, it’s the back end of the rotation that may be the true Achilles heel of these Blue Jays. While the addition of Bassitt shores up the top 3, Berrios and Kikuchi are less-than-bankable as quality starters and could very well end up performing terribly this season. I would have less confidence in the Blue Jays at the second spot. 

Tampa Bay Rays: 86-76

Tampa Bay, despite making very few moves this offseason, should still finish in at least 3rd this year.

Their lineup will look like this: 

C Francisco Mejia/Christian Bethancourt

1B Yandy Diaz

2B Brandon Lowe

3B Isaac Paredes

SS Wander Franco

LF Randy Arozarena

CF Jose Siri

RF Manuel Margot

DH Harold Ramirez

And their rotation will look like this:

1) Shane McClanahan

2) Tyler Glasnow

3) Drew Rasmussen

4) Zach Eflin

5) Jeffrey Springs

While their lineup doesn’t look all that spectacular on paper, there are several underrated players on that roster. Players like Wander Franco and Randy Arozerana should return to 2021 form, and players like Yandy Diaz, who kept the team afloat last year, should keep raking this year. Their rotation and bullpen should be a true strength for this team next year. They have two Cy Young contenders at the top of their rotation with several elite relief/opener options. I don’t think the Rays have a 90-win season in them, but they should remain competitive throughout the season. 

Baltimore Orioles: 80-82

The O’s found themselves a couple of years ahead of their rebuild in 2022 as they had their first season above-.500 since the days of Chris Davis and Adam Jones. In large part due to their young core. Now that I mention it, let’s look at that young core:

C Adley Rutschman

1B Ryan Mountcastle

2B Adam Frazier

3B Gunnar Henderson

SS Jorge Mateo

LF Austin Hays

CF Cedric Mullins

RF Kyle Stowers

DH Anthony Santander

Rutschman, Mountcastle, Mullins, and Henderson should be in for great 2023 seasons, but the concern with the Orioles this year starts and ends at the rotation.

That rotation will look like this: 

1) John Means

2) Grayson Rodriguez

3) Kyle Gibson

4) Cole Irvin

5) Austin Voth/Dean Kremer/DL Hall

Outside of Rodriguez and Means, this Orioles rotation looks terrible. The only way I can see this team making the playoffs is if Rutschman and Henderson deliver seasons that are years beyond their development. 80-82 feels like a fair record for this team

Boston Red Sox: 79-83

After a disappointing last-place finish in 2022, the Red Sox will look to get back to world series-contending form. They’ve made their fair share of moves – and non-moves – this offseason. Was it enough?

Their lineup will look like this: 

C Reese McGuire

1B Triston Casas

2B Christian Arroyo

3B Rafael Devers

SS Kiké Hernandez

LF Masataka Yoshida

CF Adam Duvall

RF Alex Verdugo

DH Justin Turner

This lineup is intriguing for many reasons. McGuire had a great 2022, Casas and Devers are some of the best hitting talents in the league, and guys like Masataka Yoshida, Alex Verdugo, and Justin Turner are almost allergic to not getting on base. It’s an offense that has the potential to be great, but the holes in the middle infield should scare you. 

Their rotation is even harder to predict. It’ll look a bit like this:

1) Chris Sale

2) Brayan Bello

3) Corey Kluber

4) Nick Pivetta

5) Garrett Whitlock/Tanner Houck/James Paxton

There are several talented pitchers in this rotation, but due to injury history, it’ll be hard to bank on these guys being able to be effective enough over a full season. While their bullpen got significantly better, I still believe that the projections were right, the Red Sox should finish last in the AL East.


picture accreditation: Daniel Hartwig from San Jose, CA, USA, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons
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