The race in the American League East keeps getting hotter. The Boston Red Sox have regained the lead at the moment, but the race for Divisional Champions is one of the tightest in all of Major League Baseball. There are three teams performing at the best in all of MLB right now in this Division, and only five teams in the Division. The Boston Red Sox, the Baltimore Orioles, and the Toronto Blue Jays are all within a single game of each other, and they are three of the top teams in the American League. Only the Cleveland Indians and the Texas Rangers currently have better win-loss records.
Boston has spent most of the season leading the Majors in batting. They have had the highest team batting average in all of MLB for most of the season, often above .290, and they have led the Majors in runs for most of the season, too. Their big problem is pitching, but since the All Star Game, this has slowly been improving. The O’s and the Jays have much stronger pitching, but haven’t been able to match the Sox offensively. This trend is likely to continue, but if the Sox can fix their pitching issues, we should expect them to creep away and secure first place before too long. It’s impossible to tell, though. These are all very talented teams, and anything is possible.
The big change for the Red Sox this year is within star DH, David Ortiz. Ortiz is retiring this year, but a lot of his fans are now against him doing this. He’s having one of the best seasons of his life. His batting average, if he were to retire today, would be his second best ever for a single season. If you discount his 1997 year where he only played 15 games (and batted .327), his best season ever was 2007. He batted .332 that year, and had an OPS of 1.066. Currently, his average is just below this, but his OPS is higher. It’s not uncommon for a batter to have a better eye as he ages, but to keep his power at or above his former levels is extremely rare. Ortiz is doing this with style. It’s also interesting to note that 2007 was a World Series Championship for the Sox. Ortiz was a major factor in that victory, too.
The Orioles are not without power, and neither are the Blue Jays. In fact, with Toronto slugger Jose Bautista missing some time due to injury, the Blue Jays are positioned well to surprise quite a few people this year if he can have a strong return. In the meantime, they have plenty of firepower with Josh Donaldson, who has even more homeruns that Ortiz at this point in the season. That’s something that can change in just a game or two, so keep an eye on these teams. The last part of the season is going to be an exciting one.
The other two teams—the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays—are not completely out of the mix. The Yankees, who sit in fourth place at the time of writing, only need a few good games to take the top slot. The Rays are more than 15 games out of contention, but if they have a few good weeks, and one of the top three teams slips up, they stand a very slim chance at a Wild Card spot. There is a very good reason why this is often called the best Division in all of baseball. It will be an exciting one to watch as the postseason gets closer.