The best starters at each position in the AL East. What Orioles make the cut?
By Brian Barr
Far and away the best division in baseball in 2023 has been the American League East. We are over a week into May and all five teams are still above .500. MLB.com has three AL East teams (Tampa Bay Rays #1, Baltimore Orioles #3, Toronto Blue Jays #4) in the top four spots of their most recent power rankings. The players on this list have been the best at their (primary) position in baseballs best division. All stats are from prior to games on May 8. Let's take a look at the best of the best.
Starting Pitcher: Gerrit Cole
Gerrit Cole has been one of the few bright spots in an injury plagued New York Yankees season. In eight starts, Cole is a perfect 5-0 with a 58/16 K/BB ratio in an MLB leading 51.2 innings. Cole has thrown a quality start in six of his eight starts, and one of the remaining two saw Cole surrender no runs in 5.2 innings. The other was a hiccup against the Rays but who elevated Coles season ERA to 2.09 which is still good enough for seventh among starting pitchers. Cole also has a complete game shutout already this season.
Honorable mention: Shane McClanahan
Catcher: Adley Rutschman
Adley Rutschman picked right up where he left off from 2022. The leader of the O's is hitting .280 and has a .406 OBP due to leading the junior circuit in walks with 28. Rutschman has 18 RBI's while scoring 16 runs himself. While Rutschman's offense has never been lacking, his defense has always been his calling card. Rutschman has a .996 fielding percentage and has caught 27% of attempted base stealers.
Honorable mention: Connor Wong
First Base: Yandy Diaz
Yandy Diaz has been arguably the best player on baseball's best team. Diaz has a .352/.435/.605 slash line with nine homeruns, 19 RBI's and 29 runs scored. His on base percentage and runs scored both lead the league and his .996 fielding percentage shows that Diaz is solid all around. Diaz stands out in a crowded first base competition.
Honorable mention: Vladimir Guerrero Jr
Second Base: Gleyber Torres
Gleyber Torres was on a mission to start the 2023 season. The mission was to keep his starting spot over DJ LaMahieu, Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza. Torres came out hot and has solid offensive production scoring 18 runs and knocking in 12 RBI's. Torres has also been more aggressive on the base paths with five steals. Torres' production has dipped a bit, along with everyone else on the Yankees, but he has been solid defensively with a .981 fielding percentage.
Honorable mention: Adam Frazier
Third Base: Matt Chapman
Matt Chapman has looked rejuvenated this season and the man has not stopped hitting. Chapman leads the league with in batting average (.349), doubles (17) and WAR (2.1). Chapman has added 20 runs scored and 21 RBI's to put himself firmly in the early season MVP conversation. Chapman currently has a .976 fielding percentage, but based on his recent years, we can expect to see that number go even higher.
Honorable mention: Rafael Devers
Shortstop: Bo Bichette
Bo Bichette gets the nod at shortstop in the most competitive position in the East. Bichette leads all of baseball in at bats (149), hits (49) and total bases (78). Bichette has 25 runs scored and 22 RBI's while batting .329/.371/.523. Bichette rounds out his skill set with a .972 fielding percentage. The only thing missing from Bichette's game so far this year is steals. Bo said he would be running more this year but only has one stolen base in just three attempts this season.
Honorable mention: Jorge Mateo
Left Field: Randy Arozarena
Left field in Tampa Bay has become one of the most entertaining places in baseball. Whether it's Randy Arozarena robbing homeruns, making diving catches or his trademark pose after making these plays, baseball fans haven been treated to something special. Offensively, Arozarena has done everything, posting a .328/.397/.594 slash line with 24 runs scored, 30 RBI's and three stolen bases. And by the way, he has a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.
Honorable mention: Masataka Yoshida
Center Field: Cedric Mullins
Fresh off an appearance in the World Baseball Classic, Cedric Mullins, has gotten off to a fast start. Fast being the operative word since Mullins is 11-11 in stolen base attempts and already has two triples on the season. Mullins has lost his leadoff spot in the Orioles lineup, but that may be for the better seeing as he leads his team with 28 RBI's now that he's batting lower in the order. Mullins seems to make highlight catch after highlight catch while posting a .989 fielding percentage.
Honorable mention: Aaron Judge
Right Field: Alex Verdugo
Alex Verdugo has been everything the Boston Red Sox could have asked for and more when he came over from the Las Angeles Dodgers in the Mookie Betts trade. He has been a key member of a Red Sox team looking to rebound from last year. Verdugo is slashing .307/.379/.504 with 27 runs scored, 18 RBI's and three stolen bases. Verdugo is also perfect in the field in 86 chances so far in right field.
Honorable mention: Anthony Santander
DH: Harold Ramirez
Harold Ramirez almost wins this spot by default, but just because he hasn't had much competition from the other AL East teams, doesn't mean the Ramirez doesn't deserve this spot. Ramirez is slashing .333/.394/.611 with 6 homeruns, 15 runs scored and 15 RBI's. Ramirez has been a consistent producer for baseball's top team.
Honorable mention: Giancarlo Stanton
Not surprisingly the best division in baseball is pretty evenly represented on this list that will surely start more arguments than it will settle. It is still very early in the season and some of these players have been overachieving, but all of the teams are very good. The American League East is stacked with young talent and should be as exciting as it is competitive for years to come.