Division Winner - Boston Red Sox (103-57 prediction)
Year in and year out, the Sox have put themselves square in the middle of World Series talks and this year is no different. There's no shortage of star power on this roster as they're lead by Gold Glove contender Nolan Arenado and All-Star hopeful Lorenzo Cain. Projected numbers suggest that Boston has the best hitters vs RHP as well as LHP within the division. The margin between them and the next best team as far as hitting goes, is slimmer than it has been in past seasons.
The starting rotation is what really sets Boston apart from the rest of the division. They're led by 2-time FCBL All-Star Justin Verlander and 2-time MVP Corey Kluber. If there's a weakness to this team, it would be the back end of the rotation, but that'd just be splitting hairs as the Sox number 4 and 5 starters would be 2 or 3 in the rotation of other teams. Their staff overall projects to be the 2nd best within the division. The bullpen ranks 3rd in the division, but is only behind the number two and number one ranked pens by a very slim margin.
Wild Card - Minnesota Twins (96-66 prediction)
For the 2nd year in a row, the numbers have the Twins just behind the Red Sox. Minnesota traded away 4-time FCBL All-Star Jose Altuve to Pittsburgh this offseason and will lean on Pre-Season MVP candidate Christian Yelich. The Twins rank 2nd against LHP and RHP in the division just behind Boston. Altuve's replacement Whit Merrifield will play a huge role for Minnesota as they look to finish the deal this season.
Minnesota has the 4th ranked rotation within the division, but don't take that as a knock on the Twins. This division is very tight when it comes to the separation between 1st and 4th among the rotations, and they all have respectable numbers that will compete against anyone across the league. Hyun Jin-Ryu will likely lead the way for the Twins this season. They project out as having the 2nd best bullpen in the division behind on Philly. The Twins are loaded in the pen and have flame thrower Aroldis Chapman coming in late to shut things down.
Wild Card - Philadelphia Phillies (90-72 prediction)
Mr. Adams packed up and moved his squad back to Philadelphia in hopes to rejuvenate the franchise and the fan base. They have a competitive ball club led by 3B Jose Ramirez. The Phillies are right in the thick of things within the division vs RHP as they rank 3rd just behind Boston and Minnesota, but lack some of the firepower vs LHP as they project to finish last in the division in that aspect, but the pitching should keep the Phillies in the hunt for the playoffs.
As for the pitching staff, Philadelphia ranks only behind the Red Sox in the division but only slightly ahead of Minnesota. Taillon and Thor will anchor a very strong staff that will hand things over to what projects to be the strongest relievers in the division. Treinen and Moronta will leave very little on the table for opposing hitters late in games.
Improved, but still last - Tampa Rays (71-91 prediction)
The Rays are much improved from what they have been the last several years. The pitching staff, the rotation most notably, is the strong point for Tampa. They are led by Cy Young hopeful Blake Snell and a solid number two Kyle Freeland. The bullpen is a weak point for the Rays and ranks last within the division.
Robinson Cano should be a bright spot for Tampa but the hitting overall leaves a lot to be desired. They rank last vs RHP and 3rd against LHP. Elias Diaz should serve as a nice surprise for Tampa as a backstop and Rookie Franmil Reyes should hit in the middle of the lineup vs lefties. Aside from that, it's going to be another long season in Tampa, but they're heading in the right direction.