Friday, March 28, 2014

2014 American League Preview

Another regular season is upon us and that means that it is prediction time for a lot of writers across the inter-web. There will be surprise teams, surprise players, and even some other surprises along the way. The unknown and unpredictability of baseball is one of the most enduring qualities of "America's Past-time."

Through out the coming week, I will be making my picks for the National League and the American League, taking a closer look at the AL Central, and selecting awards for the Twins. Here is a look at the weekly schedule so make sure to stop in all week to get yourself primed for the season to come.

2014 Preview Series
AL East Champions: Tampa Bay Rays
The Red Sox are the defending champions and the Yankees are going to want to send Derek Jeter out with a bang but this division will belong to the Rays. Their core of pitchers including David Price, Matt Moore, and Alex Cobb will help supplement a strong line-up with Evan Longoria and budding superstar Wil Myers. The AL East is always a tough division so it will take a lot for the Rays to end up on top. Baltimore has been strong the past two seasons and Toronto is always looking to get back into contention. Joe Maddon might be the best manager in the game and he has all the right pieces for the Rays to make a deep run into October.

AL Central Champions: Detroit Tigers
Things aren't as clear cut in Detroit as they were at this time last year. The Tigers will undoubtedly end up near the top of the division even after dealing away Prince Fielder and Doug Fister. It always helps to have a strong pitching staff with multiple Cy Young winners at the top and having two-time AL MVP Miguel Cabrera in the middle of the line-up doesn't hurt the situation. Joe Nathan was brought in to help clean up the back end of the bullpen but there are still questions about how the club will get from their starters to Nathan. Kansas City and Cleveland will be on the heels of Detroit but the Tigers should pull away and win the division for the fourth straight season.

AL West Champions: Oakland Athletics
This might be the hardest division to pick in baseball. Texas, Oakland, Seattle, and Los Angeles might all have a shot at coming out of the West. Oakland won the division in each of the last two seasons. Texas has some strong pieces to keep them in contention. Seattle spent money on the free agent market but there are still questions of whether it will be enough. Mike Trout is the best player in baseball but he hasn't got much help from Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton this season. For the purposes of this post, I'll go with Oakland but I don't feel good about their starting staff. There are just too many holes on the other teams for me to feel confident in them being able to win a division title.

Wild Cards: Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers
Boston will be strong again this year but just not strong enough to catch the Rays. It will still be enough to get them into the Wild Card game against the Rangers. Boston had a little bit of turnover in their line-up with AJ Pierzynski and Grady Sizemore added to their roster. Xander Bogaerts will be fun to watch and he could be an exciting player for years to come. Texas continues to be strong and having one of the best pitchers in the AL, Yu Darvish, always helps. The team will be hurt by Jurickson Profar missing the first 10-12 weeks but they will have enough to overcome his absence and make the postseason.

American League Award Picks (Sleeper Pick)
MVP: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angles (Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays)
Cy Young: Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers (Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angles)
Rookie of the Year: Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox (George Springer, Houston Astros)
Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Rays (Lloyd McClendon, Seattle Mariners)

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