2024 Division Outlook: AL East

Two divisions down, four to go. The 2024 MLB Season is right around the corner, and it's time to preview and highlight the five squads that make up the American League East, a division that looks to be one of the strongest divisions in the sport.

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles / Rob Carr/GettyImages
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Baltimore Orioles

Gunnar Henderson
Division Series - Texas Rangers v Baltimore Orioles - Game Two / Greg Fiume/GettyImages

Key Additions
- RHP Corbin Burnes
- RHP Craig Kimbrel

Key Loses
- 2B Adam Frazier
- OF Aaron Hicks
- RHP Kyle Gibson

After years of torment as one of the worst teams in the Major Leagues, the Baltimore Orioles seem destined to be a juggernaut for years to come. They exceeded expectations in 2022, finishing 83-79 after an abysmal 52-110 record in the 2021 season. Many people, including me, were skeptical of that 2022 season, thinking the Orioles simply exceed expectations and were still a couple years away from true contention. Manager Brandon Hyde and his crew went out and proved any and all doubters wrong, thrusting forward with a 101-61 record that rewarded them with their first AL East crown since 2014 and the number 1 seed in the American League playoff race. Baltimore will look to repeat their regular season dominance from a year ago, this time with an urge for that dominance to carry over into the postseason.

The Orioles are built off the previously mentioned years of torment. Years of last place finishes and trades allowed Baltimore to rebuild their entire roster. Now, the Orioles are a team full of young talent, with a now accomplished group already in the majors and more elite talent on the way. The O's lineup is headlined by that youthful talent, with Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson already establishing themselves as two of the best hitters in the American League. Anthony Santander is an established power threat in their lineup, with Ryan Mountcastle falling under that same mold, just with a little less consistency. Outfielders Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays are elite defenders that will still contribute offensively. Jackson Holliday and Jordan Westburg, two guys with little to no MLB experience, look to be the next duo to come out of that number 1 ranked farm system. After finishing 2023 scoring the fourth most runs in the American League, Baltimore will look to repeat as a top offense, and I believe they will.

The biggest splash made by Mike Elias was completing the blockbuster deal that landed Corbin Burnes in Baltimore, a move that showed Baltimore meant business. Sure, the Orioles lineup has to room to improve, but so does any lineup. Baltimore's biggest struggle was their starting rotation, as their starters accumulated 10.7 fWAR, good for ninth in the American League. They helped take care of that issue in a big war, going out and trading for Corbin Burnes, a former NL Cy Young award winner, who accumulated 3.4 fWAR by himself in 2023. Now, Baltimore has an established ace headlining their rotation, the commodity they had been seeking for years. Kyle Bradish broke out in a big way last year, posting a 2.34 ERA in the second half, the second best mark in the majors, leading him to fourth place finish in the AL Cy Young race. Former top prospect and young ace Grayson Rodriguez will look to take another step forward this year, potentially creating a rotation led by three ace-level caliber pitchers. Round the rotation out with a mixture of Cole Irvin, Dean Kremer, Tyler Wells, and John Means, and Baltimore has an overall strong rotation. The biggest concern for Baltimore's pitching staff might stem from their bullpen, as they will have to compete in 2024 without elite closer Felix Bautista. 2023 breakout Yennier Cano and future Hall of Famer Craig Kimbrel will have to try to keep the Baltimore bullpen stable in Bautista's place. Regardless, Baltimore looks to be a legit contender in the American League, both for 2024 and for years to come.

Team MVP: Gunnar Henderson

Team Cy Young: Corbin Burnes

Team X-Factor: Grayson Rodriguez

The Nationals will host the first matchup of the Battle of the Beltway as they host the Orioles from May 7-8, and will visit Baltimore for two more from August 13-14.