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The American League East has been dominated for years by the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. But that may change in 2020, with injuries opening the door for a team such as the Tampa Bay Rays to exceed oddsmakers' expectations.
Here are the win totals for all five teams in the AL East, with our lean on their chances in 2020:
|New York Yankees||37.5|
|Tampa Bay Rays||33.5|
|Boston Red Sox||30.5|
|Toronto Blue Jays||27.5|
The simplest rule to live by when betting this crazy Major League Baseball season is to fade the extremes, especially when it comes to favorites. That's even easier with the Yankees, who won't be at full strength to start the campaign.
Giancarlo Stanton will be ready for Opening Day but limited to designated-hitter duties as he recovers from a calf strain. Meanwhile, Aaron Judge may not be so lucky as he fights through a stiff neck and Masahiro Tanaka could miss time after suffering a concussion, which would hurt a rotation that already lost Luis Severino for the year. There's still a lot of talent, but I'm not buying a 103-win pace.
Few teams are better positioned to thrive during a shortened season than the Rays, who are loaded with talent up and down the roster. Workload concerns limit the potential for Tampa Bay's staff, but the trio of Tyler Glasnow, Blake Snell, and Charlie Morton is as dangerous as any for around 10 starts each.
The Rays' lineup won't wow you, but its depth is ideal for a campaign that will test teams' capacities to withstand injury and illness. The same can be said for the bullpen, which was elite a year ago and should help alleviate any workload concerns for the rotation. Tampa Bay is built for this 60-game challenge and is an easy over bet.
Even after shipping Mookie Betts out West, the Red Sox have one of the best lineups in baseball. Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers are studs, and J.D. Martinez is projected to have FanGraphs' seventh-highest offensive rating in the majors.
As good as the lineup is, the rotation is on the opposite end of the spectrum, as Chris Sale is out with an injury and David Price was traded with Betts. The bullpen could be an issue, too, if the team's starters can't routinely make it to the sixth inning. Boston barely managed a .500 record a year ago with a better roster and more stability in its coaching ranks. The under is a safe play here.
The Blue Jays will rule the AL East one of these years, but it won't be this one. Toronto's young hitters finished dead last in batting average and among the league's worst in OPS and runs scored a season ago. This year's group projects to be better than that, but not enough to crack the top half of the league.
That puts the onus on an unproven staff, which still has major question marks entering 2020. Will flame-throwing Nate Pearson get called up to the bigs? Will Hyun-Jin Ryu regress from his elite numbers last year, and can he stay healthy? There's too much uncertainty here to feel confident in the over.
Fading the extremes this season doesn't apply to the Orioles, whose roster is so devoid of talent that it's hard to find any reason to bet the over.
Baltimore hasn't called up any of its impact prospects to camp, and top hitter Trey Mancini is already scratched for the entire season. The Orioles haven't managed a .350 win percentage in either of the last two years, which is what they'd need to go over this number. Don't count on it happening this season.
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.