Instead of going team by team this off season, I will review the divisions as a group. And whereas last year, I used a version of BaseRuns, with some modifications for strength of schedule and the like thrown in, to determine the ranking of teams’ true talent levels, this year I will use WAR as provided here on FanGraphs.
Part Six: The AL East
Last year the AL East reigned king over everything. The Red Sox were kings of baseball, the best team according to BaseRuns. The Rays, no slouches themselves and eventual AL Pennant winners, were 2nd, at 2nd. The Blue Jays followed in the 4th overall spot just ahead of the Yankees in 5th. The poor Orioles were left out of the love fest however, finishing 23rd overall.
In 2009, little changed. The Yankees climbed up from fifth to take the top spot both in the division and in baseball overall. A fitting rank for the team that took home the World Series crown. The Rays once again were bridesmaids in 2nd, and this time didn’t see a pennant flag out of the deal. The Red Sox completed the AL East trifecta with a 3rd overall ranking.
The Blue Jays were unable to hang so tight with the big boys this season and fell down a few spots to 10th while the Orioles remained the Orioles, slipping from 23rd to 25th.
The overall rating for the Yankees is likely to change significantly a few years from now after we have enough data to build out a better park effect for New Yankee Stadium. For now though we have to go with what we have, and that leaves the 2009 Yankees as a supremely powerful group of hitters. Other than that, not much changed in the AL East last year and given the strengths of Boston, New York and Tampa, not much should change in 2010 either except a further decline for Toronto now that Roy Halladay is gone.
Here’s a summary of the ranks for the AL East teams, with 2008 first.
BOS: 1, 3
TAM: 2, 2
TOR: 4, 10
NYY: 5, 1
BAL: 23, 25
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