The greatest rivalry – the Red Sox vs. the Yankees – wraps up our six pre-trade deadline divisional reviews. Our ratings show the two classic rivals absolutely dead even with 16.1 of 20 points each and if one can trade for Jed Lowrie or even one extra lefty like Patrick Corbin or Francisco Liriano it could tip the crucial scales to give one team the AL East and make the other play a dangerous one-game wild-card game.
The rest of the division has incredible trade bait with star pitcher Chris Archer of Tampa Bay, star pitcher JA Happ and 3b Josh Donaldson of the Toronto Blue Jays, and most important potential MVP 3b-SS Manny Machado, OF Adam Jones, and top-level relievers Brad Brach and Zach Britton.
Explanation of Ratings: We start by rating each team on a base 20 scale, with a 10-point scale for batting, 5-point scale for starting pitching, 3-point scale for relief pitching and 2-point scale for fielding. This was done by reviewing personnel and results to date and playing simulated games through Statis-Pro baseball (free version here), weighing pitching and batting stats by the team’s home ballpark, reviewing which fielders on each team were nominated for a gold glove either of the past two seasons and evaluating all new players. We then assess the new players acquired and present the weaknesses that might be addressed by the July trade deadline.
Boston (16.1 of 20) – The importance of fielding continues to drop as a larger percentage of plate appearances end with a home run, walk or strikeout that does not require a fielder. However, the best fielding in the country is at Boston, and in light of the Yankees very poor fielding that makes the Red Sox exactly even with the Yankees – despite their hitting and fielding not being quite as good. One possible bidding war with the Yankees could occur over -the A’s incredible slugging infielder Jed Lowrie (particularly if Pedroia continues to struggle).
Batters (7.0 of 10) – Last year’s acquisition JD Martinez may be the best hitter in baseball based on his Statis-Pro card, but so far Mookie Betts is even better. Meanwhile, Eduardo Nunez looks like a strong pickup from San Francisco last year and his ability to step in for Dustin Pedroia when injury kept him down. However, Nunez has not hit as well to date this season.
Starters (4.2 of 5) – The rotation led by Chris Sale was already strong so no changes yet.
Relievers (2.9 of 3) – Likewise Craig Kimbrel and the rest of the pen give all the great innings needed.
Fielding (2.0 of 2) – When Sale is on the mound then the majority of the team on the field has been nominated for a gold glove in the past two years. This rates as the best defense in baseball, with Jackie Bradley Jr. making ridiculous catches from centerfield, Mookie Betts in right, and a short left field that doesn’t require coverage – plus the right side of the infield in Mitch Moreland and Dustin Pedroia.
NY Yankees (16.1 of 20) – Subjectively I feel like the Yankees are the best team in baseball this year because their pitching and hitting is so dominant. However, their fielding woes may be the chink in the armor and leave them just behind the Astros and – if they get everyone back from injury – the Dodgers.
Batters (8.2 of 10) – The Yankees feature the best trio of rookie Statis-Pro hitting cards I’ve ever seen in 3b Miguel Andujar, 1b Tyler Austin, and 2b Gleyber Torress. Adding those three new bats along with home run champion Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins is a big reason this team is on pace to break the all-time home run record.
Starters (4.5 of 5) – The Yankees added Sonny Gray from the A’s last year and then AJ Cole from the Nats this year gives them enough great starters that even if they have a couple on DL they will put a great arm on the mound to start every game.
Relievers (2.9 out of 3) – The Yankees through one great reliever after another at you, but in the end, the return of closer Aroldis Chapman to ridiculous form (32.2 innings, 56 strikeouts, 14 walks, 1.10 ERA) makes the bullpen almost perfect.
Fielding (0.5 of 2) – They actually have three gold glove nominee outfielders, but the problem is Stanton plays DH now due to having the same position as fellow nominee Aaron Judge. Therefore the Yankees only have two nominee outfielders actually playing the outfield (Brett Gardner is the other) and as great as the bats in the infield are it has been a true adventure playing balls cleanly and even catching balls behind the plate.
Tampa Bay (8.2 of 20) – Tampa Bay started shifting talent out to become a below average team for the moment, and if Chris Archer is traded they would drop another notch.
Batters (3.6 of 10) – RF Johnny Field is the only above-average player of all the newcomers, while CJ Cron from the Angels is an adequate replacement for departing players, but still a downgrade.
Starters (1.7 of 3) – We rate the rotation above average with Chris Archer – but with him currently on the DL and being rumored to be traded, this could be a below average rotation.
Relievers (0.7 of 3) – Sergio Romo was lights out after coming over from the Dodgers last year, but so far has struggled in a pen that really needs him.
Fielding (0.3 of 2) – The only gold glove nominee is CF Kevin Kiermaier, and he has only played 14 games this year with just seven hits.
Toronto (7.6 of 20) – It makes sense Toronto should get their best return for their two stars about to become free agents in JA Happ and Josh Donaldson.
Batters (4.0) – The line-up is mediocre, though a couple of decent additions are versatile infielder Yangervis Solarte and power hitter Curtis Granderson.
Starters (1.9 of 5) – Beyond JA Happ the starting rotation can be inconsistent.
Relievers (1.4 of 3) – The pen is deep, but without the proven lockdown pitchers for late innings.
Fielding (0.3 of 2) – If Marcus Stroman is not pitching and light-hitting Kevin Pillar is not in the outfield due to light hitting, then the team has no gold glove nominees on the field.
Baltimore (5.8 of 20) – It is rare that the team with baseball’s best record has this many strong individual players
Batters (2.5 of 10) – It appeared the addition of Tim Beckman and Seattle third-baseman Danny Valencia and Tampa Bay outfielder Colby Rasmus (just cming back from injury) could combine with Adam Jones and Manny Machado – but the very poor run production has made this surprisingly one of the worst offenses to date.
Starters (1.8 of 5) – It appeared the pickups of Tampa Bay’s Alex Cobb and Texas’ Andrew Cashner would round out a strong rotation, but the rotation has not pitched well to date.
Relievers (1 of 3) – The two great relievers making up for others are Zach Britton and Brad Brach, both sought after by many teams.
Fielding (0.5 of 2) – The fact that gold glove nominee Rasmus was a nice addition, but with injured that only nominees are 1b Chris Davis except when pitcher Alex Cobb pitches.