Sunday, April 4, 2010

2010 American League Predictions

Baseball is here! With the Eagles discarding players left and right, the Flyers sinking into the abyss and the Sixers season long over, the Phillies taking the field on Monday will be a welcome sight. With the acquisition of Roy Halladay, the Phils are in prime position to get back to the World Series for a third straight year.

With the season starting on Sunday as the Yankees take on the Red Sox, it's time to make some predictions. My season preview this year will be broken down into three parts with my predictions for the American League in this post, my predictions for the National League early tomorrow and finally a piece with all of my individual projections for each player on the Phillies coming Tuesday. Last year, I was pretty close as I picked the Phillies to lose to the Red Sox in the World Series. Right outcome, wrong AL East team; let's see if I can do even better this year.

AL East
1. Yankees

The Yankees look poised to make another run at the World Series after they re-tooled their roster, jettisoning Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui for Curtis Granderson and Nick Johnson. Like the Phillies, the Yankees didn't sit back and just hope their rotation would be strong for another year; instead, they picked up Javier Vazquez to be the best 4th starter in baseball. With Joba Chamberlain slated to be in the bullpen from the start of the season, I don't see any holes on this Yankees team. It's going to be tough to unseat the champs.

2. Red Sox (Wild Card)
The Red Sox have jumped on the latest "smart baseball" trend and loaded up with defense and pitching as they hope to win a lot more close games this year. Unfortunately, I don't see how they can keep up with the Yankees when they have no one in their lineup that scares anyone. Sure, Victor Martinez and Kevin Youkilis are professional hitters, but they will be relying on J.D. Drew to do too much and hoping that David Ortiz still has something in the tank. That's not going to be a recipe for postseason success.

3. Rays
The Rays trot out mostly the same team as last year as they hope their young players continue to develop and carry them back to the playoffs. Remember, that World Series trip in 2008 was just a pleasant surprise; this team wasn't supposed to really compete for another few years. Now they seem to have the pieces in place; unfortunately, there are two huge roadblocks ahead of them in the division. If it's any consolation, if the Rays were in the Central or the West they would easily win either division.

4. Orioles
Like the Rays, if the Orioles were in any other division, I would like them to make a run at the Wild Card. With Matt Wieters and Adam Jones getting on base ahead of Nick Markakis, who is looking to bounce back from a slight downturn last year, the Orioles should put up plenty of runs. Their big issue is their pitching. Really, Kevin Millwood on Opening Day? Really? How is that going to cut it in the AL East?

5. Blue Jays
Yuck. There isn't much to like about the Blue Jays, who have no pitching and only a sprinkling of talented hitters. With Roy Halladay out of the mix, Toronto fans aren't going to have much fun watching Shawn Marcum and Ricky Romero, the team's "aces", get lit up all year.

AL Central
1. White
The White Sox are a solid mix of good starting pitching (don't forget they added Jake Peavy last year), speed (Juan Pierre and Alexei Ramirez) and power (Carlos Quintin and Paul Konerko). Sure, they don't do anything great, but they will beat you in a number of ways. While Bobby Jenks is a shaky, there are enough other arms in the pen to keep the Sox in games.

2. Tigers
The addition of Johnny Damon gives Detroit a solid lineup from top to bottom to go with a pitching staff that is top-heavy but could be just deep enough. Damon was a great pickup and should score a ton of runs as he gets on base ahead of the big bats in the middle. The Tigers won't be a great team but they should be competitive in an unimpressive AL Central.

3. Twins
The loss of Joe Nathan hurts but that's not why I have them third in the division while many experts think they will win the Central. Sure, they have some great bats in Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, but have you taken a look at their starting rotation? Carl Pavano is their number 2 starter? They are actually going to count on Francisco Liriano every 5th day? Look, I know the Twins always seem to perform above expectations and I could be wrong, I just think this is the year they take a few steps back.

4. Indians
Like Grady Sizemore, this team once had so much promise but just slowly faded away. While their lineup still has enough punch to keep them competitive, their rotation could be bad enough to let them slip back towards the Royals. When Austin Kearns is your biggest offseason acquisition, you've got problems.

5. Royals
Jason Kendall? Rick Ankiel? Scott Podsednik?? What's the point? If you're the Royals, why aren't you just rolling the dice with the young guys and hoping for a miracle rather than wasting your time and money on again veterans? Poor Zack Greinke.

AL West
1. Mariners

The Red Sox of the AL West are built on pitching and defense and look ready to unseat the Angels as division champs. With Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez making up the best 1-2 punch in the AL and Ichiro, Franklin Gutierrez and Milton Bradley providing great outfield defense, the Mariners look like they have the right formula for success. Also just like Boston, questions abound in the lineup, but this team is built to win in the regular season.

2. Angels

Like the Twins, the Angels always seem to perform better than they look on paper but they look like a team poised to take a step back this year. The AL West has been pretty weak in recent years so the Angels have benefited from playing some weak competition; with the Mariners and Rangers both making strides, LA must step their game up or they will fall by the wayside.

3. Rangers
Even with Ron Washington on coke, the Rangers are on the rise. While Nolan Ryan's supposed reclamation project with the pitching staff is a bit over-hyped, it's hard to argue with the immediate turnaround the team made last year on the mound. If they can somehow get 25+ starts from Rich Harden, Texas could do some real damage.

4. A's
All one needs to do is notice that Eric Chavez is going to be in the lineup every day to know all that you need to know about the A's. Until they get a new stadium and bring in some real revenue, there aren't enough Moneyball tricks up Billy Beane's sleeve to keep this club competitive.

Yankees over White Sox
Red Sox over Mariners

Yankees over Red Sox
ESPN will love this ALCS as the Yankees get back to the Series

MVP: Mark Teixeira, Yankees
A-Rod gets all the press but Teixeira continues to put up big numbers

CY Young: Felix Hernandez, Mariners
He will finally earn his "King" nickname

Agree or disagree with my predictions? Want to make your own? Include your thoughts in the comment section. Check back tomorrow for my National League predictions.

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