2011 AL East Forecast: Who Will Have the Biggest Impact on His Team?
The AL East is regarded by most as the toughest division in baseball, and there's good reason.
The powerhouses, otherwise known as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox reside there, as well as the young and exciting Tampa Bat Rays, and the up and coming Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles.
With the competition for the AL East crown beginning to form, lets take a look at those who will have the biggest impact on their teams success.
Jose Bautista-Tornoto Blue Jays
Was there ever really a question?
Jose Bautista became a household name after his tear in the 2010 season. The Blue Jays right fielder saw his stock climb after belting 54 home runs and driving in 124 RBI's. Although he only batted .260, enough cannot be said about the excitement both he and the long ball brought to Toronto.
While he is older than most would think, 30, Bautista is now the face of the franchise, and will make it very difficult for any pitcher to get an out.
If Bautista can have another year like the one he had in 2010, expect his hitting to be noticed for both the Home Run Derby and All-Star game.
Carl Crawford-Boston Red sox
The Boston Red Sox took a page out of the Yankees playbook this off season and acquired two of the biggest names available in Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford.
While Gonzalez will provide the offense, Crawford brings two things that are key to winning games in the post season, defense and speed.
The Yankees fell to the Rangers in last years playoffs because Texas played solid defense, and constantly stretched singles into doubles.
These two categories come along with Crawford the Boston,as he is a recent gold glove winner, and a theif on the base pads. Crawfors swiped 47 bags in 2010, 13 lower than his mark in 2009.
His ability to keep pitchers preoccupied while he dances over at first will not show up on the stat sheet, but it will pay huge dividends in the form of wins for his Red Sox Nation...
Vladimir Guerreo-Baltimore Orioles
Enough cannot be said about what Vladimir Guerrero will mean to this team.
Guerrero is a successful veteran who can hit the laces off the ball even to this day, and with his compliance to being the designated hitter, Guerrero will be fresh every start.
The Orioles are one of the the teams in the MLB that are up-and-coming, and Vlad is just the guy to not only get the fans excited, but the team as well.
In 2009 he posted a smooth .300 average, with 29 home runs and 115 RBI. If he can duplicate that stat line this season, the Orioles may find themselves floating above .500 baseball, something they haven't done since 1997.
David Price-Tampa Bay Rays
With all of the losses Tampa Bay endured, it will fall on the pitching now more than ever to keep Tampa Bay relevant in a highly competitive AL East.
The Rays lost starting pitcher Matt Garza, as well as bull pen stud Grant Balfour and All-Star closer Rafael Soriano.
These departures will put an enormous strain on the Rays' ace, but if he can endure and persevere, the Rays will continue to be competitive throughout 2011.
Price has good stuff, and showed it last season by going 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA. His 188 strikeouts ranked him eight in the American League.
Price will continue to dominate on a team that is in desperate need of pitching now that free agency has come and gone.
Mark Teixeira-New York Yankees
One of the most consistent hitters and fielders in all of baseball, Mark Teixeira is the staple of the Yankees infield.
With Boston beefing up its roster, the Yankees need Tex to deliver another season of 30 home runs and 100 RBI's if they want to have any chance of winning the pennant this season.
The only knock on Teixeia is his notoriously slow starts to the season. The Yankees need their first baseman to get off to a quick start this season, as falling behind by too much early on may spell trouble for them in September.
The gold glove and All-Star first baseman will undoubtedly have another solid year, the only concern will be keeping him healthy enough to survive another long run.