Tuesday, March 26, 2013

2013 American League Preview

Trying to predict baseball is becoming harder and harder. With the addition of the second wild card spot, it seems like almost every team has a shot at earning a trip to the postseason. No one saw the Orioles and the Athletics making it into the postseason last year. It is also hard to believe the playoffs occurred without the Angels participating.

That is what makes this game so much fun. Fans from every team have hope at the beginning of the year and there are 162 games to separate the men from the boys.

It's preview week here at NoDak Twins Fan. Check out the schedule of post for the week and make sure to stop back every day so you are prepared for the upcoming season.

2013 Preview Week
Tuesday: American League Preview
Wednesday: American League Central Preview
Thursday: Minnesota Twins Awards Preview
Friday: Friday Links-N-Thinks
AL East: Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays spent the offseason acquiring talent to get them back to somewhere they haven't been since the early 1990's. Toronto spent multiple seasons as the top dog in the AL but that was many years ago in a galaxy far, far away. Last year's NL Cy Young winner RA Dickey will look to calm some of the bats in the AL East. Jose Reyes will use his speed to wreak havoc on the bases and Jose Bautista will get back to his healthy home run hitting form. Their rotation is solid and they have a very strong line-up that will guide them through the gauntlet of the AL East.

AL Central: Detroit Tigers
After being embarrassed by the Giants in last year's World Series, the Tigers have a chip on their shoulder. They have arguably the best pitcher and the best hitter in the game in Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera. Veteran Torii Hunter was brought in to help an offense that struggled at times and a defense that ranked near the bottom of the AL. The AL Central shouldn't be too much of a challenge for the Tigers even with some revamped rosters in Cleveland and Kansas City. Detroit is built to get back to the Fall Classic.

AL West: Los Angeles Angels
On paper, the Angels had one of the best team's in 2012 but that still didn't translate to a playoff spot. This year will be a different story. Mike Trout will get a full season to show off his talent. This will be dangerous especially with the other offensive players around him. Albert Pujols took a lot of the blame for LA's poor start last year but there was plenty of blame to go around. For the second year in a row, the Angels brought in a big name free agent to bolster their line-up. Josh Hamilton will help to make Los Angeles the best team in the American League.

Wild Cards: Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers
Oakland surprised the baseball world last year by using a rotation mostly comprised of rookie pitchers to win the AL West. They won't be as much of a surprise this season but it helps to have the Astros at the back-end of their division. The A's will benefit from playing Houston 18 times this year and this should help them move to the top. Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes will pace the offense and Oakland will have back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since the Moneyball Era.

There is a little turmoil in Texas but the Rangers roster still should be strong enough to make an October run. Team leaders Josh Hamilton and Michael Young are in different uniforms so other players will have to step up to the plate. Ian Kinsler is one of the best infielders in the game and Jurickson Profar will look to make his mark in his rookie campaign. AJ Pierzynski and Lance Berkman will try to replace some of the offense lost by Hamilton leaving town.

Wild Card Game: Oakland over Texas
ALDS: Los Angeles over Oakland, Detroit over Toronto
ALCS: Los Angeles over Detroit
World Series: Washington over Los Angeles

AL MVP: Mike Trout, Angels
Trout lost out on last year's MVP award because of the Triple Crown season put together by Miguel Cabrera. This year there won't be another Triple Crown winner and this leaves the door open for Mr. Trout. A full season at the big league level could allow Trout to put together some numbers that have never been seen before. He has a chance to be the first 50/50 player in history. He is also one of the best defensive outfielders in the game. The offense around him will be even better this year and this could put him on pace to break the single season record for runs scored.

AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander, Tigers
Verlander is simply one of the best pitchers in the game. In each of the last two years, he has lead the American League in strikeouts and innings pitched. The Tigers should steam roll the AL Central and this could put Verlander on a pace to set a new career high in wins. Over the last four seasons, he has averaged 238 innings on the mound and it is hard not to think that those innings might start to add up. He hasn't showed any signs of slowing down so a Detroit playoff birth and some gaudy pitching totals should earn him his second Cy Young in the last three years.

AL Rookie of the Year: Aaron Hicks, Twins
There might be better prospects on other teams but not many of the top prospects in the American League will get the chance to start from Opening Day. The Twins are giving Hicks this chance and he could be the team's first Rookie of the Year winner since Marty Cordova in 1995. Wil Myers and Jurickson Profar will have a chance to impact their clubs later in the year. Hicks put together a tremendous spring and he has all of the tools to be a solid player. It will be up to Hicks to make the correct adjustments and show that he belongs at the MLB level.

AL Manager of the Year: John Gibbons, Blue Jays
If things go according to plan in the AL, Gibbons will have the best shot to walk away with the manager of the year award. The front office has done a good job to compile a talented roster. He is still going to have to control a lot of different personalities if the Jays are going to make it through the AL East. If Ned Yost can help to turn the Royals around, he might have a claim to this crown. For now, Gibbons looks like the front runner and it will be up to the rest of the league to stop him.

No comments: