The All-AL East Team
We continue our series on All-Division teams with arguably the most stacked division. When you put together teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays, and Orioles only good things can happen. Here’s how I see the AL East team shaking out.
The Starting Lineup:
1) Jacoby Ellsbury, Center Field, Red Sox
Curtis Granderson or Adam Jones probably could start in center field for most of the divisions in the league. In the AL East, they’re overshadowed by 2011 AL MVP runner-up. Ellsbury had his first 30-30 season and when coupled with his Gold Glove defense, he’s the easy choice.
Honorable Mention: Curtis Granderson, Yankees and Adam Jones, Orioles
2) Derek Jeter, Shortstop, Yankees
Jeter is getting up there in age, but no other shortstop in the AL East has come up to remotely his level. I’ve always thought that Jeter was more suited for the #2 hole than the lead-off spot he bats for New York. He can do all the little things like moving runners over and taking pitches to allow Ellsbury room to steal. Jeter still gets on base at a good rate to set up for an incredible middle of the order.
Honorable Mention: Yunel Escobar, Blue Jays
3) Adrian Gonzalez, First Base, Red Sox
Four straight All-star games, a silver slugger in 2011, and the only player that could get the AL 1st base Gold Glove away from Mark Teixeira. I still believe that Adrian Gonzalez is one of the more underrated players in the game. He led the AL in hits in his first season in Boston, while hitting an astounding .338. Gonzalez has said that his shoulder feels much better for this season and can now swing through the ball, potentially making him even more dangerous.
Honorable Mention: Mark Teixeira, Yankees
4) Jose Bautista, Right Field, Blue Jays
I threw around the idea of letting David Ortiz hit cleanup, but you just can’t go against the player that has led the Majors in home runs each of the last two seasons. Bautista has been quite the find for Toronto, seemingly coming out of nowhere to turn into the player that Blue Jay fans think is better than Santa Claus. With a slugging over .600 the past two years, Bautista is the right choice for the four hole.
Honorable Mention: Ben Zobrist, Rays and Nick Markakis, Orioles
5) Evan Longoria, Third Base, Rays
Longoria or A-Rod? A-Rod or Longoria? It was a tough decision, but I leaned towards the continued growth of Evan Longoria. The power is there as he hit 31 home runs in just 133 games in 2011, but the improved plate discipline has been helpful. Longoria also had a career-high 80 walks last season despite missing almost 30 games. That helped Longoria have a respectable OBP, despite hitting a career-worst .244.
Honorable Mention: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees and Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays
6) Robinson Cano, Second Base, Yankees
This was the toughest decision in the division. Having the top of the order set, I felt that Cano was better suited for the six hole than Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia probably has the better overall credentials with his MVP award and two Gold Gloves compared to Cano’s one. Cano has finished top six in MVP voting each of the last two years and is a .300 average with 25-30 home runs, 100 runs and 100 RBI’s in the bank.
Honorable Mention: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
7) David Ortiz, Designated Hitter, Red Sox
No offense to Edgar Martinez, but David Ortiz will go down as the best designated hitter in the history of the game. Even at age 36 he’s still cranking out .300 average seasons with almost 30 homers. There was no other choice for this spot, so let’s move on.
8) Matt Wieters, Catcher, Orioles
I did it! I got an Oriole in the All-AL East lineup! Wieters has finally developed into the offensive threat that Baltimore fans thought he would be when he was a highly touted prospect. Wieters had his first 20 home run season to go along with his first All-Star game nod and first Gold Glove in 2011.
Honorable Mention: J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays
9) Desmond Jennings, Left Field, Rays
A toss-up pick on which speedster to I want at the bottom of the lineup. I went Jennings over Brett Gardner for the greater power potential. Jennings hit 10 home runs in 247 at-bats last season, Gardner has 15 career home runs in 1390 AB’s. I think we’ve already seen Gardner reach his potential, while Jennings has some room to grow. I’ll believe in Carl Crawford again one day I’m sure.
Honorable Mention: Brett Gardner, Yankees and Carl Crawford, Red Sox
CC Sabathia, Yankees
Jon Lester, Red Sox
James Shields, Rays
David Price, Rays
Ricky Romero, Blue Jays
There’s not much to say about CC Sabathia. He’s an absolute workhorse with five straight seasons of at least 230 innings pitched. Jon Lester still doesn’t get as much love as he deserves after making two straight All-star appearances. Shields and Price are the best 1-2 combo in the division. Shields became “Big Game James” once again bouncing back from a terrible 2010 to lead the AL in complete games and shutouts. Ricky Romero gets the edge over Matt Moore for the #5 spot, for now.
Honorable Mention: Josh Beckett, Red Sox and Matt Moore, Rays
David Robertson, Yankees
Francisco Cordero, Blue Jays
Robertson was a revolution for the Yankees, becoming the 8th inning pitcher, the Yankees were looking for when they signed Rafael Soriano. Robertson was rewarded with his 1st All-star appearance. Cordero has been suited for the closer role during most of his career, but makes for a great setup option for the Jays.
Mariano Rivera, Yankees
What you thought I’d take someone different? I won’t go against the greatest closer of all-time even if he is 42 years old. Looking at the current closer situation in this division, no one touches the great Rivera.
Who would you have on your All-AL East team? Let us know in the comments!