Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
The American League East is usually regarded as the toughest division in all of baseball year after year. This upcoming season will be no exception.
With recent blockbuster deals made by the Red Sox and Blue Jays, winning the AL East in 2015 just got all the more difficult. Still, sizing up the five teams in the division, the Baltimore Orioles are still the favorites to walk away with the division title for a second-straight year in a row.
Although they will likely lose Nelson Cruz to free agency, the Orioles still have plenty of power hitters in their lineup. In fact, the ball club still has seven batters on their roster who hit at least nine home runs during the 2014 season (eight batters if the team resigns outfielder Nick Markakis).
An off-season signing of free agent Melky Cabrera could be the last piece to the puzzle that is Baltimore’s offense.
The contract extension of shortstop J.J. Hardy helps solidify the team’s defense moving forward. Baltimore’s .986 fielding percentage was tied for third-best in the Majors last season.
With the hopeful resigning of Markakis, the team will return three 2014 Gold Glove Award winners to the field in 2015.
One of the major factor as to why the Orioles will win the AL East is pitching. Despite most likely losing Andrew Miller to free agency, the team still has one of the more reliable bullpen’s in all of baseball with relievers like Darren O’Day and Zach Britton.
Also, unlike the Red Sox and Blue Jays, the Orioles will return the same rotation of starters that saw so much success in 2o14. This upcoming season could be Kevin Gausman‘s breakout year as the ace of this team.
One thing is for sure, the AL East will have three of the most exciting third basemen in the MLB with Machado (Baltimore), Pablo Sandoval (Red Sox) and Josh Donaldson (Blue Jays).
The thing that gives the Orioles the best advantage to win the AL East again is the mastermind duo of Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette. Having both the 2014 Manager of the Year and Executive of the Year in your organization gives fans the peace of mind that the team is in good hands moving forward.
2015 could be another year for the Birds of Baltimore.