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Can even the dregs of the hyper-competitive AL East draw plausible comparisons to a World Series winner?

Just how good was the American League East in 2010? The New York Yankees and their $213 million payroll had to settle for second place, and the third place Boston Red Sox would have finished a spot higher in three of the other divisions—and that was just what their backups and still-green minor leaguers were able to accomplish filling in for the actual team that spent most of the season on the disabled list. Three of the top four (and four of the top seven) teams in Jay Jaffe's final Hit List of 2010 hailed from the AL East, and the second-best record of the last two months by any team in the AL came from the last-place Baltimore Orioles, who went 34-23 under new manager Buck Showalter.

How good will the American League East be in 2011? Those cellar-dwelling Orioles may be as good as a World Series winner. That is not a joke—the Orioles, who are likely to finish in last place in the East regardless of the quality of their team due to the four clubs in front of them, still project to put a quality roster on the field, one that puts them on par with a past World Champion: the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals.

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