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Home / Sportscope / Fantasy Baseball AL East Preview: Don’t rush to crown the Yankees just yet

Fantasy Baseball AL East Preview: Don’t rush to crown the Yankees just yet

New York Yankees

The Yankees were prohibitive favorites to demolish this division just a few weeks ago. Now? Maybe put some chips down on the Rays. The Yankees have been first or second in MLB scoring the last three years, but it might be difficult to match that level in 2020. And the pitching staff has been crippled, too.

Luis Severino’s done for the year. James Paxton, never the paragon of durability, has a shoulder issue. Giancarlo Stanton’s Grade 1 calf strain could keep him out Opening Day. Aaron Judge (shoulder) isn’t hale, either.

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Gio Urshela and Mike Tauchman mark their territory in part because of defense; Miguel Andujar is getting some reps in the outfield, as Urshela usurped him at third. DJ LeMahieu can’t be expected to match last year’s power output, but he can regress a fair amount and still make a profit. Gardner is still a reasonable corner outfielder, but for now, he’s asked to man center field. His stolen base interest has faded the last two years.

Gerrit Cole deserves first-round real estate, but I’d like him more if he stayed in Houston. I’m not opposed to taking high-end pitching, but I am not taking Cole at the capped part of his range. New York’s bullpen could be the deepest in baseball.

New York Yankees projected lineupNew York Yankees projected lineup

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New York Yankees projected lineup. (Photo by Paul Rosales/Yahoo Sports)

Boston Red Sox

Andrew Benintendi battled a laundry list of injuries in 2019, wrecking his season. Now presumably healthy, and parked at the top of what’s still a strong lineup, I like his profit potential, especially if you can land him outside the Top 100. Xander Bogaerts might have to move off shortstop eventually, but he’s a five-category stud on offense. At some point, Alex Verdugo enters the outfield mix, but last year’s back problem isn’t close to healed. Kevin Pillar was a nice value signing, a category-juice hitter who has the defensive chops to play any outfield position. Remember, in Fenway, right field is just as challenging as center field, perhaps more so.

Chris Sale probably won’t be ready for Opening Day; the team blames pneumonia, but there’s also an “elbow” tied to that report. My days of drafting Sale proactively are over; you can have him in the third or fourth round if you want. Brandon Workman has the closer spot locked down, though last year’s walk problem is worrisome, and there’s no way he’ll have another one-homer season again.

Boston Red Sox projected lineup Boston Red Sox projected lineup

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Boston Red Sox projected lineup. (Photo by Paul Rosales/Yahoo Sports)

Tampa Bay Rays

The first-base and DH slots will probably turn into platoons, and the Rays generally make me uneasy with their “162 games, 162 lineups” approach. But Austin Meadows has earned the right to play against all kinds of pitching, and Hunter Renfroe will hit 25-30 home runs if they leave him alone. This is probably the last chance for Willy Adames to make a snappy impression; uber-prospect Wander Franco will likely be ready in 2021. It’s a shame they didn’t keep Travis d’Arnaud; Mike Zunino’s framing keeps him on the field, not his bat.

The rotation could be fantastic, depending on how healthy Tyler Glasnow turns out to be. And Tampa Bay always has a deep bullpen; Nick Anderson looks like the head of a closer committee, but expect the Rays to use several candidates to finish up games, focusing more on leverage and matchups than defined, singular roles.

Tampa Bay Rays projected lineupTampa Bay Rays projected lineup

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Tampa Bay Rays projected lineup. (Photo by Paul Rosales/Yahoo Sports)

Toronto Blue Jays

What a fun lineup, with the four legacy kids starting things off. Cavan Biggio is probably the best value of the bunch, though I won’t steer you away from any of them. Just understand you have to draft Baby Vlad like he’s already turned into a superstar. He was a mild disappointment last year. Teooscar Hernandez has always had the raw speed to be a category juice guy, but he’s lacked the polish and nuance. He’s nonetheless a penny stock to consider in those late rounds.

Hyun-jin Ryu has been underrated virtually his entire career, but I wish he signed anywhere but here. There aren’t any soft landings in the AL East. A closer is an unjustified luxury for a non-contending club, which puts Ken Giles into the midsummer trade blender.

Toronto Blue Jays projected lineup.Toronto Blue Jays projected lineup.

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Toronto Blue Jays projected lineup. (Photo by Paul Rosales/Yahoo Sports)

Baltimore Orioles

I like to say every city has fantasy value worth mining, but this is a rare exception. Trey Mancini (NFBC ADP, 102) is the only Baltimore player currently priced inside the Top 250. After that, it’s a matter of talking yourself into toolsy Austin Hayes or believing in the Renato Nunez power spike.

[Yahoo Rankings: Overall | C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP ]

Mychal Givens is merely the top of the closer committee; his strikeout rate fits the gig, but he’s prone to wildness and had a 4.50 ERA last year. I don’t know what Baltimore’s plan is, but it’s going to take several years. Go for the park, not for the players.

Baltimore Orioles projected lineup.Baltimore Orioles projected lineup.

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Baltimore Orioles projected lineup. (Photo by Paul Rosales/Yahoo Sports)

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