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The Tampa Bay Rays always seem to be a mystery entering the season. Ever since their miracle run in 2008, it seems like every year there are experts who think they are a World Series contender and others who think they won’t reach .500.

The split on the Rays this season may be greater than ever. While we are still waiting for most experts to chime in, we are getting a sense that nobody knows what to expect.

PECOTA’s projection system has pegged the Rays to win 91 games and finish atop the AL East.

Fangraphs’ projection system is less impressed, with the Rays going 82-80, good only for fourth in the division.

One early Power Ranking has the Rays in the middle of the pack among all teams, at No. 17.

One Las Vegas sportsbook has the Rays’ over/under win total at 78.

That’s a huge gap from 78 to 91 wins and anywhere from first to fourth-place in the division. Well, one big reason there is uncertainty with the Rays is because there is a lot of uncertainty in the American League in general.

Take a look at PECOTA’s system. The worst team in the AL according to the PECOTA computer is the Orioles, and they are still projected to win 72 games. No other team is projected to win fewer than 76 games. Considering 86 wins was good enough for the playoffs last season, that means any team in the AL could make the playoffs and nobody would be shocked.

Jesse Spector discussed this in a recent column.

In the American League, though, something strange is happening. Every team has a legitimate shot at making the playoffs. Every single one. When does that ever happen?

Some teams have a better chance than others, of course — it’s not a case of full parity. While everyone has a high ceiling, the floor is not level. It’s much easier, for instance, to see the A’s finishing last in the West than it is to see the same fate befalling the Astros. The case for Oakland as a playoff team is there, though.

Spector also discussed the chances for the Rays:

That leaves the Rays, an 80-win team a year ago in the midst of what was supposedly going to be a rebuild. Starting pitching is Tampa Bay’s strength, with Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Drew Smyly and Matt Moore, with a late-season return expected for Alex Cobb. Will the runs be there? It depends a lot on how Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza handle their second seasons as full-time starters. If you believe they will get just a little better, and that the additions of Corey Dickerson and Brad Miller provide a boost, then the Rays are contenders.

In other words, maybe they make the playoffs, maybe not, but you can certainly make a case. Unfortunately, the same can be said for the other 14 teams in the AL.

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