Once again, the American League East is shaping up to be one of baseball’s strongest divisions, with four postseason contenders in depth as we get to the heart of the program.
The Red Sox have exceeded all expectations during the first two and more months of the season, fighting with the Rays at the top of the division, while the Yankees and Blue Jays are approaching .500 but pose clear threats to the rest.
At this point in the calendar, the first trends begin to determine the results of the seasons. Here’s a look at which trends have had the biggest impact on AL East clubs.
Less self-inflicted damage
The Blue Jays entered last season with two stated goals, to improve their throwing and defense. As the club prepared to take the next step from young, exciting roster to legitimate contender, they simply needed to play cleaner baseball. The talent was there, but Toronto couldn’t afford to keep erasing fundamental mistakes like “development”.
It’s still not perfect, but the Blue Jays have made great strides in both areas. Coming into play on Thursday, Toronto had only hit 20th hit counts in baseball, a notable improvement over second in 2020. The Blue Jays also rank 20th in the league for mistakes made now, compared to 10th in 2020, many of which were in routine shows. Measuring these goals with walks and mistakes is by no means an exact science, but the vision test confirms and captures how Toronto has taken a step in the right direction. This is important because Toronto has one of the best lineups in baseball now, and if she can get involved in games, she’ll be back to steal a win far more often than your average team.
– Keegan Matheson
Minor League Record
For the most promising trends in the organization of Orioles, look at the farm. The O’s system has been on an upward trend for several years, entering this season as the fifth-best result in baseball for the MLB Pipeline. At the moment, it is home to some of the best teams in Minor League Baseball.
As of Thursday afternoon, Bowie Baysox held the best Double-A record at 22-8. The Aberdeen Ironbirds had the best High-A percentage at 0.667 (20-10). And at Low-A, the Delmarva Shorebirds were 21-9 and had the second-best record in High-A, behind only the Tampa Yankees (23-9). The only outlier is the 12-18 Norfolk Tides at Triple-A. But the Tides list doesn’t showcase the organization’s best prospects.
These are more concentrated in Bowie, where prospectus no. 1 Adley Rutschman is thriving and the rotation is led by No. 2 Grayson Rodriguez and from n. 4 DL Hall. Second base no. 10 Terrin Vavra and the left-handed n. 15 Kevin Smith are turning heads with hot starts in Bowie under manager Buck Britton.
– Joe Trezza
The Rays lead the Majors in strikeouts, but have been one of the most productive formations in the AL overall this season. How are they doing it? For one, they walk more than any other team in the league. After a difficult period with the runners in scoring position, they found timely shots. And they hit home runs, more specifically, timely home runs. Tampa Bay entered Thursday with a record of 35-12 when hitting a homer this season and 16-3 when hitting multiple homers. As of Thursday afternoon, 41 of the Rays’ 76 homers this season (53.9%) had come with at least one runner on base, the highest rate in the Majors ahead of D-backs and Giants. During their 19-4 stretch from May 14 to Sunday, the Rays scored six points or more 13 times and scored 66 of their 148 points (44.6%) via home runs: 12 solo shots, 17 blasts from two points, four three points. run homer and two grand slams.
“I think the timeliness of things here right now is working in our favor,” manager Kevin Cash recently said. “We talked about it for the first month of the season, where we weren’t doing it with guys in the top scorer position. Now, we’re doing it and then some. “
– Adam Berry
Surprisingly strong launch staff
Everyone expected the Red Sox to have a strong attack this season. However, the reason they have been at or near the top of the AL East leaderboard for most of the season is that their launch is stronger than expected. This has been more true than ever in recent times. In their first seven games in June, the Boston pitchers had an ERA of 2.47, allowing for 17 points earned in 62 innings. The bullpen was dominant during that stretch, scoring an ERA of 1.69 (four points earned in 21 1/3 innings).
When it comes to keeping the ball in the baseball field, the Red Sox pitching was elite, allowing for one or zero home runs in 42 consecutive games starting Tuesday night. The only starting pitcher with an ERA above 4 is Eduardo Rodriguez, the expected ace of staff, who had a surprising slump in May.
– Ian Browne
Worrying trends that pile up
Dealer Choice: We have a number of not-so-great trends to choose from, which explain how the Yankees fell from a game behind the division leader Rays on May 25 to their current place in the leaderboard. How about losing 10 of the 15 games since that date, a span in which they averaged 3.4 points per game? Or maybe you prefer their number of Major League double play leaders, or their 28 outs on basepaths – most in the bigs, and the equivalent of more than a full game of wasted baserunners. The launch brought New York to a May 17 win, but it can’t get back into the race unless the offensive stats change.
– Bryan Hoch