Stegall: The A.L. East Trifecta Theory

Steve SamsContributor IJuly 19, 2010

BOSTON - JULY 15:  Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox watches the game from the dugout in the ninth inning against the Texas Rangers on July 15, 2010 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The Rangers defeated the Red Sox 7-2.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

With the All-Star break in the dust and in the books, baseball now shifts its attention to the second half of the season.  Where teams clinch, chuckle, and as the Mets know, choke at the sight of a playoff birth in 2010.

The race for the A.L. East crown is arguably baseball's hardest division to win as it includes the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox, who hold three of baseball's top 10 best records right now. 

For the Yankees, unless the team collapses down the stretch like their cross-town rival had done three years ago, the defending World Series champs will gain a playoff spot, whether it be via Wild Card Birth or winning the A.L. East. 

A team with Sabathia, Hughes, and Pettitte, who all have over 10 wins, leading the rotation and a bullpen with Mo rarely blowing a save, it's a lock that the Yanks will do it the Steinbrenner way once again, spending a lot of money and making it into the playoffs with flying colors and baseball's best record.  Not to mention they have the Bronx trio to go along with the core four to better their chances: 

Robby Cano (who reminds of what Pedroia would look like left handed), Nick Swisher (who reminds me of a young Johnny Damon in his Boston days), and Brett Gardner (who reminds me of Bill Mueller in his Bill Mueller days). 

As for the Rays, they have recently opened up a sizeable lead of 3.5 games over Boston in the A.L. East standings, and also in the Wild Card Standings where they hold the lead. 

Despite the recent chemistry issues with B.J. Upton and Longoria, the team has continued their ways that they have had since they changed their name.  They have been able to produce playoff caliber teams with home-grown talent, with the exception of Carlos Pena, Jason Bartlett, and former Red Sox dirt dog Gabe Kapler. 

The team is lead by Evan Longoria, who reminds me of an A.L. version of Ryan Zimmerman (that’s what I get for getting Nationals games on TV).  "Longo" as the locals call him made another All-Star appearance this year, as well as Tampa ace David Price.  Price, who leads the A.L. in wins, has continued to surprise many after his sophomore slump last year. 

The Rays are getting it done with young, home-grown talent, which worked for the Sox when they won it all in 2007.  The "Ray-Way" is being showcased once again, using home grown talent and a lack of high profile and pricey free agents.  (I guess Pat Burrell kinda scared them.)

The curious question in the beginning of the season was why are the Boston Red Sox, who use both of these tactics and have the second highest payroll in baseball, sitting third in the always unpredictable A.L. East standings? 

The curious question now is why are the Red Sox even as high as they are now with players like Darnell McDonald, Daniel Nava, Gustavo Molina, Eric Patterson, and Felix Doubront featured on the Red Sox scorecard. 

Part of the answer is due to the fact that every player on the Red Sox opening day lineup has been injured at one point and 6 of those guys, including opening day starter Josh Beckett are currently on the D.L.

However, a developed theory that I have come up with explain the Red Sox strange season and position in the standings. 

The A.L. East Trifecta theory.

A pattern that Me, your blind Uncle, deaf Grandma, and house Dog could probably come with.  A pattern that dates back to the 2004 season.  You have three years the pattern works then skip one.

2004 A.L. East Standings

1.       Yankees

2.       Red Sox

3.       Blue Jays

2005 A.L. East Standings

1.       Red Sox

2.       Yankees

3.       Blue Jays

2006 A.L. East Standings

1.       Yankees

2.       Blue Jays

3.       Red Sox

2008 A.L. East Standings

1.       Rays

2.       Red Sox

3.       Yankees

2009 A.L. East Standings

1.       Yankees

2.       Red Sox

3.       Rays

Current A.L. East Standings

1.       Yankees

2.       Rays

3.       Red Sox

Just a thought...