Now the nascent baseball season has got underway—finally, we might add—after all the wrangling during the lockout, things are slowly beginning to take shape as pundits expected. 

The Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, and New York Mets have been the hottest teams in the early days of the new season, taking a stranglehold on their divisions and already looking like postseason contenders before April gives way to May. 

Of course, there are surprise packages too, as with every season. The Colorado Rockies, for instance, look stronger than most experts predicted, although they will have a mountain to climb should they hope to unseat the Dodgers and Giants in the NL West. 

But one division where it already seems things will go to the wire is the AL East. 

It looks ridiculously hard to predict, with the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, and Tampa Bay Rays all considering themselves serious contenders for the postseason. We will also add the Boston Red Sox to that list. 

While the Sox are not backed by many pundits to go all the way to the Fall Classic, they have the same kind of stubbornness that saw them reach the ALCS in 2021. The Red Sox haven’t gone away. 

Nonetheless, you really are looking at a tight race between four teams, with a last-place finish seeming inevitable for the hapless Orioles. 

Sportsbooks Finding It Difficult to Separate AL East Teams

There is some differentiation in the perception of those four teams, of course. Sportsbooks (and a lot of pundits) fancy the Blue Jays as the most likely candidate to top the AL East come September. 

But the odds are quite narrow, and there’s not much daylight between the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Rays in terms of the odds.  

Indeed, there’s disagreement from sportsbooks over whether the Rays or Yankees should be second or third favorites. 

Those price fluctuations can be good news for bettors, particularly those who use honest sportsbook reviews to find the best betting sites. 

For example, we have seen the Rays’ odds to win the AL East range from +225 to +400 – almost double depending on which sportsbook you use. 

The point is, statistically speaking, you could get any combination of the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Rays in positions one, two, and three at the end of the regular season, and nobody would be shocked. 

You also have the Red Sox ready and willing to play spoiler. Some sportsbooks have the Red Sox at the exact same odds as the Rays to win the division, even if most are convinced that a Wild Card spot is the most Boston can hope for. 

Wild Card Places Increased in 2022

Speaking of the Wild Card, the extension to three teams from each league is going to be interesting. The AL East has dominated the Wild Card positions since its introduction in 1995 by MLB. 

Teams have finished in the Wild Card position 37 times since that time, and the AL East has had 24 of them (Red Sox & Yankees 8 each, Orioles & Rays 3 each, Blue Jays 2). 

Yes, much of that bias comes from the strength of the Red Sox and Yankees, particularly across the late 1990s and 2000s, but it’s still an incredible demonstration of the strength of the AL East across the last three decades. 

So what are the chances of all three Wild Cards going to AL East teams in 2022? Some pundits have speculated on it. 

While there’s only a handful of American League teams, including the Astros and White Sox, stronger than the AL East quartet, they are still going to be playing each other a lot. 

Teams play 19 times each against divisional rivals, so there’s going to be a lot of taking wins off each other. And who knows? Maybe Mike Trout will inspire the Los Angeles Angels to a great season in the AL West. 

Still, it seems likely that at least one, perhaps two, of the Wild Card positions will go to the AL East. 

The only question that remains is who is going to get them.  


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