American League Preview
Yesterday, I gave you the National League preview for the season. And now, here is your guide for the American League for this season.
Tampa Bay Rays-The Rays come into the season as the favorites in the American League, which is a testament to the front office, considering they have one of the lowest payrolls in baseball. David Price heads the rotation yet again and will need to be on top of his game in one of the best divisions in all of baseball. Young slugger Wil Myers will be a great compliment to Evan Longoria. The Rays have everything it takes to win the division and the pennant.
Boston Red Sox-The defending champs come into the season with the same goals in mind. The loss of Jaocby Ellsbury will hopefully be aided by Grady Sizemore, who could be the answer until Jackie Bradley Jr. is ready to take over full time. The addition of Edward Mujica strengthens up an already solid bullpen that will make it very, very hard to come back for opposing teams late in games. With most of the team from last year returning, the Red Sox are one of the top contenders yet again.
New York Yankees-As usual, the Yankees were big spenders in free agency, bringing in Jacoby Ellsbury, Masahiro Tanaka, Brian McCann, and Carlos Beltran. The offense should be one of the best in baseball as long as they remain healthy, and they will need it to be with some questions within the rotation. The Yankees rotation is led by C.C. Sabathia again, but after him, some questions lie if they have enough pitching to win the division. With Mariano Rivera gone, a new closer will also have to step up. The Yankees always have the talent to win it all, but this club is truly boom or bust, and hopefully they will be able to make Derek Jeter’s last seasn a memorable one.
Baltimore Orioles-The Orioles would contend in most divisions, but the AL East is simply stacked this season. Baltimore did wel in free agency to bring in Nelson Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez, but lost Scott Feldman, closer Jim Johnson, and Michael Morse. Chris Davis will be looking to duplicate his monster season last year that produced 53 home runs. The O’s could possibly contend for a wild card spot, but it will be incredibly tough.
Toronto Blue Jays-The Jays have already started off this year on a bad note with Jose Reyes landing on the DL yet again. This team is not heading in the right direction and did not really add any major pieces in the offseason. Jose Bautista is a player I can see being traded at the deadline for some prospects so the Jays can start fresh. Watch out for a breakout season from Brett Lawrie, who was a highly touted prospect. This team will almost certainly not contend this season, or for the next few years.
Detroit Tigers-Detroit had some big time losses in the offseason with the departures of Prince Fielder, Jhonny Peralta, and Doug Fister. The addition of Ian Kinsler will help an already dynamic offense led by Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. The rotation headed by Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer provides maybe the best 1-2 punch in all of baseball and will be a nightmare for opposing teams in the playoffs. Even with the losses in the offseason, I do not see the Tigers losing this division.
Cleveland Indians-The Tribe lost a bunch of key pitchers in the offseason, including Ublado Jimenez, Scott Kazmir, and Chris Perez and will rely heavily on the core of young pitchers in their system, led by Zach McAllister and Danny Salazar to contribute this year. The offense has no major changes and is still led by Former All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who is looking to bounce back after struggling last season. This team probably will not unseat the Tigers, but they should be in the wild card chase.
Kansas City Royals-The promising farm system of the Royals are finally in the major leagues now and have fans in Kansas City optimistic of a playoff berth. The offense led by Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Billy Butler, and Alex Gordon should be able to produce enough runs throughout the year to keep the Royals in contention into September. However, the rotation is in question, especially with Ervin Santana hurt, so others will have to step up to keep the Royals relevant. This team can definitely contend for a wild card spot.
Chicago White Sox-The White Sox have some promising young prospects on the roster this season that could provide a boost and result in a season that many did not expect them to have. Chris Sale is one of the best pitchers in baseball, but does not have much behind him in the White Sox rotation. The offense welcomes young phenom Jose Abreu, who Sox fans are expecting big things out of. Adam Dunn also needs to have a big season and really drop the strikeout total, which is way easier said than done obviously. This team probably won’t compete this year, but they do have a bright future.
Minnesota Twins-The Twins did have some nice additions in the offseason, bringing in pitchers Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes along with catcher Kurt Suzuki. The offense is still led by Joe Mauer, who will be trying to stay healthy for a full season for a change. The most exciting part of this season will be the eventual arrival of baseball’s top prospect Byron Buxton, who should be called up sometime in the 2nd half of the season and is the main piece of the Twins future.
Texas Rangers-The Rangers pulled off one of the biggest acquisitions of the offseason by picking up Prince Fielder from Detroit. The Rangers were hoping to replace Ian Kinsler with top prospect Jurickson Profar, but Profar will be sidelined for 8-12 weeks of the season, which put a damper on those plans. Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus are also key components to one of the better offenses in the league. The rotation is led by Cy Young candidate Yu Darvish, who will also start the season on the DL, but is expected back within a few weeks. If the Rangers can get healthy, they will compete for the pennant.
Seattle Mariners-The Mariners pulled off probably the biggest signing in the offseason by bringing Robinson Cano to the Pacific Northwest on a long-term deal. Corey Hart and Logan Morrison were also brought in to improve a typically bad Mariners offense. The M’s will have one of the better and younger rotations in baseball led by Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton, and eventually Taijuan Walker, who is one of the top prospects in baseball and is recovering from injury. Seattle will be greatly improved this season and could contend for not only the division, but the pennant.
Los Angeles Angels-Hard to put the Angels third in the division here, but I just cannot see them finishing better than the Rangers or Mariners. With an offense led by MVP favorite Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Josh Hamilton, you would think that the Angels would be one of the favorites. That is just not the case. Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson should be a good head of the rotation, but the rest of the rotation is not good at all and could be the downfall of this team. If they can figure out the pitching situation, perhaps they can contend for the division, but a chase for the wild card is more likely.
Oakland Athletics-The A’s have a formidable rotation led by Sonny Gray and newly acquired Scott Kazmir. Jim Johnson was also brought in to sure up the bullpen and close out games. The offense is led by Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick, who have been fantastic the past two seasons. I cannot see the A’s posing much of a threat in the division this season, but they have surprised us before in the past couple of seasons.
Houston Astros-The Astros are likely in for another horrid season, but this was expected and they are clearly building for the future, which looks bright. Scott Feldman was brought in to head the rotation and reliever Jesse Crain, who posted excellent numbers with the White Sox last season, will sure up the bullpen. Dexter Fowler was also brought in from Colorado to boost a pretty horrible offense. The Astros fans will be looking forward to their young prospects making an impact late in the season and remind them why they are rebuilding in the first place.
AL Pennant: Tigers over Rays
MVP: Mike Trout