American League Predictions

With all 30 teams at their respective Spring Training sites in Florida and Arizona it means that we’re getting close to the start of the Major League Baseball season.

Opening Day is just over a month away.

In fact, starting Monday March 2, the U92 Sports staff and I will be doing two podcasts a week, giving our predictions for the 2015 season. You can find these podcasts at https://soundcloud.com/u92/sets/mlb-going-yard.

As every day we are getting closer and closer to Opening Day, and the start of what looks to be another exciting season of Major League Baseball, here are my predictions for the American League.

The Boston Red Sox made the most noise this offseason with the acquisitions of Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez, and a number of pitchers for their starting rotation. Sandoval adds power to a team that, aside from David Ortiz, is most likely going to see lower power numbers than in years past.

However, two other problems arise when looking at the Red Sox.

Boston does not have a true ace on its staff, a starting rotation that has only one lefty in it in Wade Miley; and the Red Sox will be starting Ramirez in left field. Ramirez has never played in left field in his career, let alone left field in Fenway Park in front of the Green Monster, which can mess with experienced outfielders.

Even though the Red Sox don’t have a lot of power and don’t have a true ace I think they will win the AL East division.

Boston is going to hit well for average, should get consistent production from its starting rotation, and be one of the better teams in the league, defensively.

The Baltimore Orioles lost three key players – Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis and Andrew Miller – from last year’s AL East title run. But the O’s do return key players, as well.

Manny Machado returns from another knee injury, Matt Wieters comes back following Tommy John Surgery, and Chris Davis returns from injury and suspension after Opening Day.

The O’s also have acquired Travis Snider through a trade with the Pirates, and Everth Cabrera who left the Padres in free agency.

New York had a quiet offseason by New York standards.

Derek Jeter literally walked off into the sunset, hitting a walk-off single in the final game of his career. His replacement, the young Didi Gregorius, left the Diamondbacks in the offseason and joining the Bronx Bombers.

Aside from his arrival and the signing of Andrew Miller to a large contract, the Yankees didn’t do much in the Winter Meetings.

Toronto, on the other hand, did make a number of moves, but in my opinion, didn’t improve in areas needed most.

Melky Cabrera left to join the White Sox. Brett Lawrie was traded to the Athletics in exchange for Josh Donaldson. And the Blue Jays also traded away pitching prospects, which is the area the Jays need improvement in the most.

On the flip side, however, catcher Russell Martin took the train from the Steel City to Toronto, signing with the Blue Jays on a 5-year deal.

Tampa Bay certainly has gotten worse since last season.

The Rays traded away infielders Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar, as well as outfielder Matt Joyce to west coast teams, and their long-tenured manager Joe Maddon jumped shipped to the Cubs.

The AL Central could be one of the most competitive divisions in the MLB this year. Detroit should be healthy to start the regular season after Victor Martinez offseason surgery and Miguel Cabrera was injured for much of last year.

The White Sox got significantly better during the Winter Meetings, Kansas City went to the World Series last year and should be competitive once again, and the Indians are on the rise.

I believe the Tigers will win this division simply due to experience. David Price looks to have another good season and Justin Verlander is hoping to bounce back after back-to-back sub-par years. And with the addition of Yoenis Cespedes, the lineup could be even better than last year.

The only way I see this team not winning the division is if the pitching isn’t there consistently, then I could see either Chicago or Kansas City taking the Central Division.

Chicago brought first baseman Adam LaRoche over from the Nationals and Melky Cabrera from Toronto, adding two solid bats to the lineup. The White Sox also picked up Jeff Samardzija to be the No. 2 starter behind Chris Sale, and David Robertson to be the closer.

Kansas City lost out on the James Shields sweepstakes, failing to re-sign the team’s ace of the last two years. The Royals also didn’t retain DH Billy Butler, who left to join the Athletics.

On the plus side, Kansas City is home to what is most likely the best outfield in baseball with Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Alex Rios, and has a great bullpen.

The lack of consistent starting pitching is why I think Kansas City won’t finish as well as it did a season ago.

Cleveland didn’t make any major moves in the offseason. However, aside from Justin Masterson, didn’t lose anyone of major significance, either. The Indians did sign outfielder Brandon Moss from the A’s and pitcher Marc Rzepczynski from the Cardinals.

Minnesota will be the “bad apple” of the division.

Bringing Torii Hunter back was the most noise the Twins made all offseason besides signing Ervin Santana to a four-year deal.

Seattle is going to win the AL West for the first time since 2001.

Unlike the rest of the teams in the division, Seattle got significantly better in the offseason with acquisitions such as Nelson Cruz and J.A. Happ.

After being one game away from the playoffs last year, Felix Hernandez and company will play October baseball this year. Hernandez front lines a solid starting rotation, and Robinson Cano and Cruz will lead the Mariners offensively.

Seattle will be one of the better teams in the MLB as long as it can stay healthy and Cruz’s numbers don’t fall off too much from last season.

Oakland went on a bit of a fire sale this winter, losing Luke Gregerson, Jeff Samardzjia and Jason Hammel through free agency, and trading away Josh Donaldson among a few other players.

However, the A’s also picked up Billy Butler, Ben Zobrist, Brett Lawrie and Tyler Clippard to remain competitive.

The Angels have had a troubling week with the news of the most recent relapse of Josh Hamilton while rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery that was going to keep him out of the lineup for the beginning of the season.

Looking positively, Los Angeles does have the best player in baseball in Mike Trout, and a few players who can fill in during the absence of Hamilton (however long that may be) in Kole Calhoun and Collin Cowgill.

The problems I see with the Angels are: Albert Pujols has not been the same hitter since leaving St. Louis, Josh Hamilton coverage could become a distraction one way or the other for Mike Scioscia’s ball club, and if the starting rotation hits a snag this team is in trouble.

Both teams from the Lone Star State got a little bit better this offseason but I don’t see either team being big players this year.

The Astros signed shortstop Jed Lowrie to a 3-year contract, and also agreed with relief pitchers Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek to multi-year deals. The Rangers traded with the Brewers for Yovani Gallardo and made a couple other minor deals, as well.

Prince Fielder also returns from injury for Texas.

Houston has some young talent that could have big seasons this year, such as George Springer, but I don’t think they will be good enough this year to make a lot of noise in the standings.

With all that said, here are my predictions of the American League Standings for 2015.

AL East AL Central AL West
1. Boston Red Sox 1. Detroit Tigers 1. Seattle Mariners
2. Baltimore Orioles 2. Chicago White Sox 2. Oakland Athletics
3. New York Yankees 3. Kansas City Royals 3. Los Angeles Angeles
4. Toronto Blue Jays 4. Cleveland Indians 4. Texas Rangers
5. Tampa Bay Rays 5. Minnesota Twins 5. Houston Astros
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s