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Blue Jays favored over Yankees to win both AL East and pennant

Hey, if this provides one percent extra incentive to the Yankees to prove ‘em wrong, we’ll take it.

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Opening Day weekend has now come and gone, and Major League Baseball is now fully in the swing of things. The Yankees took two out of three from the Red Sox to open up the 2022 campaign and last night, they welcomed the Blue Jays to town for a four-game set.

In years’ past, the Boston series might’ve been a higher priority, but if the 2022 outlook is any indication, the Yankees’ fiercest rivals for the American League pennant lie north of the border. The Blue Jays have been building something special in Toronto, and even though they bid farewell to Robbie Ray, Marcus Semien, and Steven Matz in free agency, they added Matt Chapman, Kevin Gausman, and Yusei Kikuchi this past offseason (not to mention extending 2021 trade deadline addition José Berríos).

Add those players to a powerful core led by 2021 AL MVP runner-up Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Yankee menace Bo Bichette, and former Astros World Series MVP George Springer, and you have quite an intimidating group for the Yankees to handle (as seen during the Jays’ breezy 3-0 victory last night). In fact, even though the past six seasons have seen New York, Boston, and Tampa Bay wrestle for the AL East crown, this time around, fans favor Toronto to take home its first division title since 2015:

Kyle Thele

The results of the surveys didn’t even have the Yankees close to the Blue Jays by any stretch of the imagination. They even still trailed the Rays, who are sure to continue being pests in 2022. The only solace is that they’re ahead of the Red Sox, I suppose.

AL East vote

  1. Toronto Blue Jays (58% favored)
  2. Tampa Bay Rays (18%)
  3. New York Yankees (13%)
  4. Boston Red Sox (10%)
  5. Baltimore Orioles (1%)

In an amusing twist, that 2015 Blue Jays team that last captured the AL East was led by MVP Josh Donaldson, who now finds himself at the hot corner for the Yankees. They finished two wins shy of an AL pennant, falling to the Royals in the ALCS — the franchise’s closest bid to a return to the Fall Classic for the first time since the 1992-93 champions. Could 2022 be the year?

Going around the league, here’s who the surveys have coming out of each of the other divisions:

AL Central vote

  1. Chicago White Sox (72% favored)
  2. Minnesota Twins (16%)
  3. Detroit Tigers (5%)
  4. Kansas City Royals (4%)
  5. Cleveland Guardians (2%)

AL West vote

  1. Houston Astros (52% favored)
  2. Seattle Mariners (23%)
  3. Los Angeles Angels (18%)
  4. Texas Rangers (5%)
  5. Oakland Athletics (2%)

NL East vote

  1. Atlanta Braves (59% favored)
  2. New York Mets (20%; sorry, Metsies)
  3. Philadelphia Phillies (17%)
  4. Washington Nationals (2%)
  5. Miami Marlins (2%)

NL Central vote

  1. Milwaukee Brewers (59% favored)
  2. St. Louis Cardinals (29%)
  3. Chicago Cubs (6%)
  4. Cincinnati Reds (4%)
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates (2%)

NL West vote

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers (81% favored)
  2. San Diego Padres (9%)
  3. San Francisco Giants (7%; tough after a 107-win NL West title!)
  4. Colorado Rockies (2%)
  5. Arizona Diamondbacks (1%)

The Dodgers are the pick for the NL pennant, with 47 percent of the vote — over 30 percentage points higher than the defending champion Braves, who dispatched them in the NLCS last year. This would be the Dodgers’ fourth World Series berth in the past six years.

Speaking of said Fall Classic, the SB Nation polls don’t just favor Toronto to win the AL East; they have them winning the pennant, too:

Kyle Thele

The Yankees might have retooled in the offseason by re-signing Anthony Rizzo and swapping out the likes of Gary Sánchez, Gio Urshela, and Luke Voit for Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and a couple defensive-minded catchers, but they couldn’t garner more than nine percent of the SB Nation fan vote for the AL pennant. They have a lot to prove in 2022. We would love nothing more than to be proven wrong, so the challenge is on the Bombers to make us look foolish while winning No. 28 (or even pennant No. 41).

As a final note, while the Blue Jays are favored to make their first World Series appearance in 29 years, the Dodgers are still the pick to win it all. A quarter of fans surveyed picked LA to host a parade in November. Maybe the Yankees should’ve taken a page out the Dodgers’ book and made an actual bid for Freddie Freeman, or built a more winning model over the past decade. Oh well.

Kyle Thele

Let’s just hope that the season plays out differently on paper.