In years past, the American League East has been the toast of Major League Baseball. Save for some dismal seasons by the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles in the 2000s, the AL East has been the best division for much of the past 10 years.
Since the introduction of the wild card in 1995, 14 of the 19 AL wild-card spots have gone to teams that play in the East. The Boston Red Sox lead all American League teams with seven wild cards, the New York Yankees are second with four, and the Orioles own third place with two.
It used to be a two-team race every year between the Yankees and Red Sox. In 2008, the Tampa Bay Rays dropped the “Devil” from their name and put the baseball world on notice by winning the division seemingly out of nowhere. Last season, the three-team race turned into a four-team contest when the Baltimore Orioles won 93 games. And not to be outdone by their divisional opponents, the Blue Jays had an extremely eventful offseason.
So, the AL East should be the best division in baseball and a completely open five-team race this year, right? Less than a month into the 2013 season, that has not been the case for a number of reasons. The East is still a very strong division, but early in the season, it has not lived up to its lively expectations.
Here are five reasons the AL East is not as stacked usual in 2013.