Strengths and Weaknesses: What to expect from each American League East team this season

Photo credit:© Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports
Veronica Chung
3 months ago
While MLB’s 2024 season opened officially in Seoul with a two-game series between Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres on March 20 and 21, the remaining 28 teams are waiting for their season to kick off in less than a week. Starting today, we’ll examine the strengths and weaknesses of each team in a series until the regular season opens on Thursday, March 28.
The first series will discuss the American League East division. In what is annually the hardest division in MLB, five hyper-competitive teams are hoping to contend for a playoff berth or at least play a spoiler for other contending teams. There are many strengths for all teams in the AL East to dominate the league again but there are some key weaknesses that could change the playing field for the upcoming season. 
Below are some major strengths and weaknesses of each AL East team. Please note that all teams are in alphabetical order.

Baltimore Orioles (PECOTA Projection: 86.6 – 75.4)

Strength: Continued youth movement
While Baltimore had to endure a painful rebuild era, the team successfully drafted talented young players. This helped the Orioles to start a future team around core players such as catcher Adley Rutschman, third baseman and shortstop Gunnar Henderson and middle infielder Jackson Holliday. And the scariest part for Baltimore’s rivals is that the team isn’t done bringing up young players to the majors. Younger players on the position player side have made an immediate impact and boosted the teams’ offensive performance. This momentum is projected to continue as the team gives more opportunities to its younger players. 
Weakness: Starting pitching depth
The Orioles have been excellent at developing players at most levels, starting pitching has been its noticeable weakness despite the strong youth movement. Although there are up-and-coming starting pitchers like Grayson Rodriguez in the team’s system, the team hasn’t had an elite starting pitching presence for some time. While the Orioles are trying to fill the starting pitching hole with former NL Cy Young Winner Corbin Burnes, they are also suffering from some dents with young starting pitchers such as Kyle Bradish being out for the season. Whether Baltimore has enough depth in starting pitching or not will show as the team battles out in a hard AL East division for a playoff berth. 

Boston Red Sox (PECOTA Projection: 78.5 – 83.5)

Strength: Investment in young players
Much like the Baltimore Orioles, the Boston Red Sox have been giving more chances for their younger players to prove their ability and worth over the past couple of years. These opportunities came along as the team struggled to stay competitive in a tough AL East division and gave Boston the time to understand the strength of their young players. Despite its uncompetitive records in the past, Boston’s front office showed interest in investing in young players by signing an extension with third baseman Rafael Devers and starting pitcher Brayan Bello. Other younger players like first baseman Triston Casas and Jarren Duran are also making a positive impact on the team’s overall performance and the team is set to be the pesky presence that will challenge division rivals. 
Weakness: Lack of direction
Even though Boston demonstrated its willingness to invest in the youth, the team still doesn’t have a clear sense of direction yet. The main problem for Boston is that the team hasn’t invested enough in free agency or trades to bring in more competitive players. Boston did trade for young middle infielder Vaughan Grissom and signed starting pitcher Lucas Giolito and reliever Liam Hendriks, none of these moves are inspiring enough to propel the team to contention given that Boston is in a more difficult division. Moving forward, defining the team’s direction and committing to it will transform the team’s identity and season. 

New York Yankees (PECOTA Projection: 92.2 – 69.8)

Strength: Star players
The New York Yankees finally started opening up their wallets again and got bang for their buck. This offseason, New York traded for a generational outfielder, Juan Soto, from San Diego to add an impact bat that can compete with Aaron Judge’s offensive production. With Soto’s presence, the lineup certainly became much more potent than before. New York also investing in bringing starting pitcher Marcus Stroman to round out the rotation, and these star powers have the potential to solidify the team’s contender status and bounce back from a disappointing season. The key players to focus on will be Aaron Judge and Juan Soto for their contributions throughout the 2024 season and these star powers will be the main driver for the team’s excitement. 
Weakness: Roster identity 
New York’s roster has been filled with veteran players for the past few years. While this roster construction had its benefits when older players were able to produce to their potential, it also hamstrung the team when veterans on the team couldn’t make an impact. Learning from this experience, New York is focusing on bringing up younger players more but its roster is still a mix of older and younger players. This, in a way, creates a good balance and will act as a buffer. However, this mixed roster construction lacks identity and direction. Is New York going to give younger players more playing time this season? Are they going to rely mostly on veteran and star players? This balancing act is going to be challenging throughout the season for a team that has a lot to prove. 

Tampa Bay Rays (PECOTA Projection: 87.0 – 75.0)

Strength: Robust player development
The Tampa Bay Rays always had an excellent player development system despite the frequent roster churn. The team has proven that it has an eye for identifying up-and-coming talents and has successfully developed no-name players into star players that every rival feared. For example, the Rays have developed talents like Shane McClanahan, Shane Baz, Randy Arozarena, Drew Rasmussen, Pete Fairbanks, Junior Caminero, Josh Lowe and Isaac Paredes. That’s not even the whole list of players who have been competitive for Tampa and a strong development system has helped the team to remain competitive even if it didn’t have star player presence to always depend on. 
Weakness: Injuries throughout the roster
Even though Tampa has developed its young players well, the team often loses its players to injuries. Last year alone, the team didn’t have Shane McClanahan, Drew Rasmussen and Shane Baz and this year, the team already reported injuries from Jonathan Aranda, Taj Bradley, Brandon Lowe and Jeffrey Springs, which impacts the team’s competitiveness to a certain degree. However, the Rays have shown their resilience by bringing new players into the team to replace existing players during their injuries time and time again. While the team’s savviness could keep them in contention in the 2024 season, it will be difficult for the team to maintain its dominance if the team continues to be impacted by ongoing injuries. 

Toronto Blue Jays (PECOTA Projection: 87.9 – 74.1)

Strength: Hope for an offensive rebound
Toronto has struggled with its offence in the past season, with key players regressing in their offensive production. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., George Springer, Alejandro Kirk and Daulton Varsho all had a down year and didn’t reach their offensive potential, and the team struggled to score with runners in scoring position throughout the season. Coming into the 2024 season, the team is more confident in offensive rebounds from these players in addition to contributions from new and young players on the roster like Justin Turner, Isaiah Kiner-Falefa, Ernie Clement and Davis Schneider. If Toronto is able to produce on paper this season, the team could go back to being the offensive powerhouse every rival fear and will have more chance at becoming a contender. 
Weakness: Pitching injuries
The Blue Jays had the best injury luck, especially in the pitching department last season. No starters were out for an extended time but that luck is starting to turn due to regression. Starting pitcher Kevin Gausman had to delay his spring training starts and relievers Jordan Romano and Erik Swanson reported to be not available for two weeks. There are some potential pitching injury concerns around starting and relief pitching in Toronto, and this could turn the team’s fortune since pitching plays a major role in keeping the team competitive. Toronto may have benefitted from healthy pitching last season but if they are unable to replicate that, their contender status might be in question.


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