The Red Sox and Yankees have historically been regarded as the division's perennial powerhouses, but in recent years, the Tampa Bay Rays have enjoyed success, the Blue Jays have been difficult to play against and the Baltimore Orioles are compiling a good, young nucleus.
This season, all five teams are in contention throughout the first two months, and all have enjoyed ups and downs already, especially the Red Sox.
Despite losing three in a row, the Sox are coming off a red-hot month of May in which they went from under .500, and five games back in the division, to battling for the top spot.
Their starting pitching, anchored by the trio of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz has been fantastic, and Adrian Gonzalez has been putting up MVP numbers offensively.
The Yankees, meanwhile, continue to show how gifted they are offensively, scoring the third-most runs in Major League Baseball so far this season. CC Sabathia has been his normal impressive self, and Bartolo Colon has resurrected his career in pinstripes.
The Tampa Bay Rays, like the Red Sox, have three solid pitchers on which they can rely each time through the rotation. David Price, James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson have all put together strong campaigns, as Matt Joyce has surprisingly led the offense.
A lot of experts thought the Rays would drop off significantly this season, especially after losing their entire bullpen in the offseason, but they continue to battle for the top spot in the East.
The Toronto Blue Jays have one of the league's most potent offenses, led by Jose Bautista, who has been far and away the best hitter in baseball in 2011. With some timely pitching by guys like Ricky Romero and rookie Kyle Drabek, the Blue Jays could make some noise and at least make things difficult for the teams currently ahead of them.
The Baltimore Orioles might not be there just yet, but they're coming. They've got some power bats in their lineup, and rookie Zach Britton has shown that he can be a top-of-the-rotation type of pitcher when he's on.
There's a lot of baseball to be played, and the AL East has already had a number of teams take a crack at holding down the top spot. Who will be trying to do so a month from now when we head toward the dog days of summer?
Which AL East team will be in first place at the end of June? Share your thoughts below.
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