Who is the Yankees’ biggest threat in the AL East division?

New York Yankees, NYY, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton
Oct 9, 2020; San Diego, California, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) celebrates with designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton (27) after hitting a solo home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fourth inning of game five of the 2020 ALDS at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees were good in 2020, but they weren’t the best team in their division. They finished the short season at 33-27, seven games behind the 40-20 Tampa Bay Rays and just one game ahead of the 32-28 Toronto Blue Jays. The Bombers were around the .500 mark for much of the season and were eliminated by the Rays in the postseason.

However, 2021 is looking a lot different, one day prior to the start of the new season. Several months have passed since the 2020 campaign ended with a Los Angeles Dodgers championship, and the American League landscape has certainly changed.

The New York Yankees look like the favorites to win the AL East division, and also seem like the best team in the junior circuit. The Dodgers are a cut above, but as far as the American League concerns, the Bombers don’t appear to have a competitor.

The Yankees appear to be the AL favorites

With the way the offseason unfolded, it’s fair to wonder who the Yankees’ biggest threat in the division is. Tampa Bay will still be competitive, but they lost two aces in Blake Snell and Charlie Morton, and recently suffered a huge injury blow with reliever Nick Anderson. They will get healthy, full seasons from Randy Arozarena and Austin Meadows, who look like stars, and have Wander Franco, the best prospect in baseball, waiting in the wings.

The Blue Jays appear ready to fight with the Rays for the second place in the division. They brought George Springer and Marcus Semien to an already impressive lineup, and if Nate Pearson takes a step forward (entirely possible), he will help ace Hyun-Jin Ryu stabilize an iffy rotation. Robbie Ray looked excellent in spring training, too.

The Yankees’ biggest rival, the Boston Red Sox, don’t profile to be very good this season, but they are on the right path, as are the Baltimore Orioles.

In the end, Tampa and Toronto may complicate things at times for the Yankees this season, but they should fight for a Wild Card spot and are nowhere near the Yankees level – on paper.