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After the NL East, I figured we should keep the conversation going out east and rank the top five players in the American League East. Again, no pitchers will be involved in any list I make.
Also, please take note that injury history WILL be included in my criteria to determine player rankings for 2021.
5. Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox
Bit of a down year in 2020, but I think it’s fair to say the 60-game season should be taken with a grain of salt. But even if you feel the short season should be considered, then there’s one key trend for you to take a peek at:
He’s the bounce back king. Check this out:
For whatever reason, the 24-year-old star can’t throw solid seasons together. It’s clear by his career numbers that he has a monster season right after a campaign of struggles. Could be that he’s young–or it’s possible that he simply responds to adversity well.
Regardless, Devers just batted .263 (which is down for him), so expect an monumental leap from last season. And one more thing: Rafael Devers has the talent to be much higher on this list. When right, he may just be the best player in the division due to his freak ability to time the game’s best heaters.
Rafael. Devers. Moonshot. 🚀 pic.twitter.com/fl3F1m5QWL— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 3, 2020
4. George Springer, Toronto Blue Jays
The new kid on the block takes the No. 4 spot on this year’s AL East list. He’s proven that he can play above average defense in centerfield while also excelling during clutch time. After all, his postseason heroics is the reason why Toronto forked over six-years, $150 million.
George Springer’s first hit as a Blue Jay pic.twitter.com/Un7FQUUPXm— Baseball Bros (@BaseballBros) March 2, 2021
Combination of speed, defense, and power makes any player valuable. Sure, arguments can be made for others to make this list, but do they possess all the tools of George Springer? Probably not.
3. DJ LeMahieu, New York Yankees
One thing needs to be clear before I defend LeMahieu being this high on my list: Versatility and availability. Huge indicators for a value asset on any sports team, regardless of the sport, is determining how often they make it to the field/court.
I’m sorry, but if a guy has all the tools on the field and spends half of every season on the disabled list, it’s going to be hard to defend that player. Of course that is unless he’s a generational talent (which happens to make the list shortly).
DJ LeMahieu is 4-for-8 with four singles this Spring Training pic.twitter.com/KX9XVOrndt— Talkin’ Yanks (@TalkinYanks) March 5, 2021
LeMahieu has the athleticism to man any position in the infield while winning batting titles. Hard to believe a player, performing under the pressures of New York for that matter, is stuck at No. 3, but it’s for good reason. Trust me.
2. Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
This one is going to turn some heads for everyone that didn’t take the time to watch the dismal 2020 Boston Red Sox. Team couldn’t pitch a lick, but that shortstop was out of this world. Look at these numbers from the 28-year-old superstar:
Since 2016, Xander Bogaerts has been a top-three offensive shortstop in the entire sport, not just the AL East. And he’s not slapping singles, either–that’s 33 homers in 2019 with 11 in just 203 at bats during the short season.
Arguable that DJ LeMahieu has been more important to the success of his team the past couple seasons, but Bogaerts has more in his tool shed. You’re just not going to see any other shortstop in this division play Gold Glove defense while anchoring the middle of the order.
I’m also fully aware that Gleyber Torres possesses that same firepower with the bat. Unfortunately for him, he struggled mightily at shortstop last season, making nine errors in just 40 games played. That doesn’t even include the fact that the very capable bat of Torres slept for most of last season, hitting just .243.
Please pay more attention to Bogaerts out East. Guy’s a monster.
1. Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
The most confusing, hard to judge (pun intended), and physically talented player in the game takes the top spot. An absolute hose for an arm out in right field that ranks him as the second-best right fielder in all of baseball, according to Statcast.
And also, remember when I said availability is the best ability unless you’re a generational star? Well, here is that nuclear weapon that any team would love to have.
Aaron Judge just hit a 495 foot home run. FOUR HUNDRED AND NINETY FIVE pic.twitter.com/mGdZWxyPf1— CJ Fogler (@cjzer0) June 11, 2017
His six-foot-seven 293-pound frame apparently is the perfect set up to launch 500-foot blasts with regularity. Played just 28 games last season, so again, availability is a concern. But even considering how frustrating his frequent absence has been–Aaron Judge is far and away the best player in the American League East. If health continues to be an issue, I would be more than welcome to renegotiating that No. 1 spot.