Handicapping the AL East race
What was once baseball's most lopsided division is entirely up for grabs
The American League East used to be the best division in baseball. From 2007 through 2012, the East boasted at least half of the American League's 90-win teams. But last year, things changed: Of the six clubs that crossed the 90-win threshold in the AL, just two resided in the East.
The quality of play among the division's elite has regressed even further this season. FanGraphs projects all five AL East teams to finish the year with between 77.8 and 84.2 wins; this time around, it seems unlikely a single team will tally a 90th victory.
Still, as the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays all fade, parity in the East has reached what might be an all-time high. In fact, the margin between the highest and lowest projected win totals in the AL East is currently the lowest in all of baseball.
In other words, what was once baseball's most lopsided division is now entirely up for grabs.
Below I have listed each team with its current projected record and playoff odds, according to FanGraphs. And I have looked into our crystal ball to envision two different end-of-season scenarios for each AL East club.
Baltimore Orioles, 84.2-77.8 (projected record), 45.5 percent (playoff odds)
How they win the division
Kevin Gausman remains in the rotation, goes on a tear and becomes the staff ace the team hoped it had in Ubaldo Jimenez. The other starting pitchers continue to defy their decidedly dreadful FIPs. Chris Davis and Manny Machado start hitting the ball with authority again, and Steve Pearce and Nelson Cruz never cool off. The team acquires Daniel Murphy, who gives the O's a huge offensive boost down the stretch.
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The Royals' bullpen trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland has been unbeatable.