How stiff is the Boston Red Sox' competition in the American League East? If you believe one well-respected projection model, the AL East race could come down to Game 162.
FanGraphs released its annual ZiPS Projections for the 2022 MLB season on Tuesday and Wednesday, using a whole bunch of algorithms to spit out projected records for all 30 clubs.
The projections have a pretty high success rate, guessing correctly on about 20 teams per year based on their preseason over/under win totals in Vegas.
So, how does the ZiPS model see the AL East playing out in 2022? Well...
That's not a copy-and-paste error. The model predicts a four-way tie atop the division, with the Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees and Red Sox all finishing with identical 88-74 records.
The Red Sox have the lowest percent chance to win the division (23.2%) and make the playoffs (54.9%) in that group. But the fact that Boston is projected to finish fourth in the AL East and has better than a 50% chance to reach the postseason is a testament to the strength of this loaded division.
Boston Red Sox
Our Justin Leger recently laid out why the East is so tough. The Rays won 100 games last year and boast a superstar in the making in shortstop Wander Franco; the Blue Jays have one of the best young lineups in baseball and a formidable one-two pitching punch of Jose Berrios and Kevin Gausman; and the Yankees have a Cy Young candidate in Gerrit Cole in addition to a home run-happy batting order.
The Red Sox should be right there with that trio after signing Trevor Story this offseason, but there's very little room for error. At the very least, they should be glad MLB added two extra Wild Card teams in each league.