Rival Roundup: Ranking the AL East lineups heading into the season

Darcy Weiss
New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays / Vaughn Ridley/GettyImages

The AL East was the most competitive division in Major League Baseball last season, with four teams holding records above .500. The Blue Jays, Yankees and Rays all made it to the postseason, while the Orioles showed great improvements with young stars on the rise. However, the Red Sox suffered a frustrating season. After several roster changes to all clubs in the division, let's rank each team's lineups for the upcoming 2023 season. Lineup projections are taken from Roster Resource on FanGraphs.

5. Boston Red Sox

Projected lineup:

C: Reese McGuire / Jorge Alfaro
1B: Tristan Casas / Bobby Dalbec
2B: Adalberto Mondesi
3B: Rafael Devers
SS: Kike Hernandez
LF: Masataka Yoshida / Rob Refsnyder
CF: Adam Duvall
RF: Alex Verdugo
DH: Justin Turner

The Red Sox finished 2022 in last place in the AL East with a record of 78-84. And after losing star shortstop Xander Bogaerts in free agency to the Padres, the Red Sox could be in for another long, frustrating season. Despite adding new faces such as Adalberto Mondesí, Masataka Yoshida, Adam Duvall and Justin Turner, this lineup lacks true star power aside from Rafael Devers, and is the weakest of the five teams within the division. The star third baseman will look to carry their offense, though with the absence of Bogaerts, this lineup is not very intimidating.

4. Baltimore Orioles

Projected lineup:

C: Adley Rutschman
1B: Ryan Mountcastle
2B: Adam Frazier / Jorge Mateo
3B: Ramón Urías
SS: Gunnar Henderson
LF: Austin Hays
CF: Cedric Mullins
RF: Anthony Santander
DH: Kyle Stowers / Ryan McKenna

After an encouraging 83-win season in 2022, the Orioles have added 2021 All-Star Adam Frazier and MLB Pipeline #1 overall prospect in the league, Gunnar Henderson to their everyday lineup. They have a fun, young core, though when stacked against the top the competition in the AL East, they still have the fourth best lineup. Henderson has a lot of hype heading into his rookie campaign, though Adley Rutschman, the 2022 AL Rookie of the Year award runner up, is the player to watch on the Orioles. Already one of the best catchers in the game, the switch hitter has superstar potential and is the O’s best hitter. 

3. Tampa Bay Rays

Projected lineup:

C: Christian Bethancourt
1B: Jonathan Aranda / Isaac Paredes
2B: Brandon Lowe
3B: Yandy Díaz
SS: Wander Franco
LF: Randy Arozarena
CF: Jose Siri
RF: Manuel Margot
DH: Harold Ramírez

The Rays finished the 2022 season with 86 wins and 76 losses, ultimately losing in the Wild Card Series to the Guardians. Though the bulk of their lineup may be relatively unknown to those who don’t avidly follow the club, they remain in the middle of the pack - led by stars, Randy Arozarena and Wander Franco. The Rays never have the name value to scare teams, though they find ways to win games in this tough division. With just Kevin Kiermaier, Mike Zunino and Ji-Man Choi departing this offseason, the Rays lineup will be very similar to last season's and they should maintain their position in the middle of the division.

2. New York Yankees

Projected lineup:

C: Jose Trevino
1B: Anthony Rizzo
2B: Gleyber Torres
3B: Josh Donaldson
SS: Oswald Peraza
LF: Aaron Hicks
CF: Harrison Bader
RF: Aaron Judge
DH: Giancarlo Stanton

The Yankees had the second best record in the American League last season with 99 wins and 63 losses, before losing to the World Series champion Houston Astros in the ALCS. Losing just Matt Carpenter and Andrew Benintendi in free agency, the Yankees lineup will look almost identical to last season's, with Oswald Peraza projected to take the shortstop job from Isiah Kiner-Falefa. There are only three players in this lineup that are younger than 30-years-old, and while Aaron Judge is a generational talent, he can only do so much. This lineup is the second best in the AL East with the potential for lots of home runs, or further regression from aging players.

1. Toronto Blue Jays

Projected lineup:

C: Alejandro Kirk / Danny Jansen
1B: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
2B: Whit Merrifield / Santiago Espinal
3B: Matt Chapman
SS: Bo Bichette
LF: Daulton Varsho
CF: Kevin Kiermaier
RF: George Springer
DH: Brandon Belt

The Blue Jays are coming off a 92-win season, and while the lineup will look different than a season ago, it is the best in the division. The departures of Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Teoscar Hernández are big losses, though Daulton Varsho and Brandon Belt fill the void with powerful left-handed bats and Varsho’s defensive abilities will help win games. With the core of Guerrero, Bichette, Springer and Kirk, this lineup is deep, and can beat teams in multiple ways with their blend of power, speed and defense throughout the lineup. The Jays clearly have the best and deepest lineup in the AL East despite paying $58M less than the Yankees. Better depth at much better value. As long as their pitching holds up, this Jays team has potential to run away with this division and do some damage in the playoffs.

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