Trying to accurately predict the standings is something of a futile exercise, but it’s also a fun thing to do pitting your picks up against your friends. At the very least, it serves as interesting debate. So without further ado, here are my American League picks for 2013.
1st – Blue Jays – are the sexy team right now. If everything breaks their way, watch out for an unbelievable season of 95+ wins. They are that good! Health of course has to be there, but Anthopoulos has built some depth to lessen any injury impact.
2nd – Yankees – unusually quiet winter has many people saying Yanks are goin’ down. Yes, they’re old, but they’re the Yanks who know how to buckle down and win. They still have very solid starting pitching and relief. Offence will play in that park.
3rd – Rays – are still a very good team with strong starting pitching and depth to spare. Wil Myers could be the wild card here. They’ve filled their holes admirably on offence and the ‘pen with a limited budget. I wonder who will be their break-out reliever this year. Any guesses? This team will contend for a wildcard birth.
4th – Red Sox – Okay, maybe they’re not that bad. They do have a formidable bullpen, but I want to see them implode with John Farrell at the helm. This is a team that’s trying to define themselves, and not finish in last. Usually that’s done with a young, talented core. Don’t get me wrong, Victorino, Napoli, Gomes and Drew are nice players, however I think Boston’s Achilles heal this year will be their starting pitching. It’s not going to cut it in the AL East.
5th – Orioles – sorry, but no. Machado may have a sophomore slump and they have little pitching depth and barely got by with the skin of their teeth…oh, and they had a horse shoe up their rear end. Sorry Orioles. Prove us wrong.
1st – Tigers – there is no question in this division who the favourite is. After adding Hunter and keeping Sanchez and getting Victor Martinez back, first place is a lock. Only question is how early in September will they clinch the division.
2nd – Indians – Terry Francona will manage. He will bring this team together to produce more than what their individual players can provide normally. They still have a mostly strong pen with an improved offence in Swisher, Stubbs, and Reynolds, but their starting staff will have to hold up to secure a second place finish in 2013.
3rd – White Sox – are a decent team with solid starting pitching and relief, but they’ve done nothing to excite the public. Kenny Williams is probably banking on increased production from what he has, but they’ll have to ride their pitching staff for any chance at contention.
4th – Royals – this team can rake when they’re on their game and they’ve improved their pitching staff, but it’s not enough. It’s like they’re hoping for perfect health and career-years out of too many players. Blue Jays fans know that feeling. I give an A for effort, but a fourth place finish again this year.
5th – Twins – this is a rebuilding team who traded Revere and Span for young, promising pitching assets that will help the Twins in a few years. Just not right now. Look for them to move any player of value (Morneau, Willingham, Perkins) come July for more prospects from which to build around. Fifth place is a lock for the Twins this year.
1st – Rangers – have exciting young depth in Profar & Olt & Martin Perez, which they refused to part with in any off-season deal. However I wonder if players will fight over their roles (i.e. Kinsler) and become a distraction. Competition could be good, but this team is trying to renew itself on the fly without suffering through any growing pains, which is more than what could be said for the Phillies in the NL who are old and lack young talent…and by the way took Michael Young off the Rangers’ hands. Texas is a professional and winning organization with Nolan Ryan at the helm and should prove to be competent in fixing any clubhouse problems.
2nd – Angels – People are high on the Angels, but I’m not. They try to fix any problems with money and then decide oh shit, Greinke is too much, I’d better leave him on the shelf and go get some cheaper players. Maybe I’m wrong and Hanson and Vargas will provide innings and Blanton will benefit from the outfield defence. I don’t think Josh Hamilton is much of an upgrade over Torii Hunter, but Burnett and Madson were solid bullpen additions. Hey, how does Mike Scioscia deal with the many all-star egos? I’m thinking they’ll just squeak in and secure the second wildcard this year.
3rd – A’s – They have most of the team returning who made that surprising run last year to take the division, and will have Brett Anderson back for the whole year hopefully to lead that solid rotation. Only players not back are Gomes, McCarthy, oh and ah…Drew and they replaced them with some replacements. Nice upgrade at catcher though with Jaso to pair with Norris. Most people had them pegged for third or fourth place last year, but they proved critics wrong. They’ll have to do it again especially when you have Sizemore and Donaldson to play two-fourths of your infield.
4th – Mariners – usually teams look to draft college or high-school players in any given year and hope that one or two become good enough players to make a major impact. Teams usually don’t do this at the major league level. They’ve added Morse, Morales, Ibanez and Bay (cough, cough) with the hope of scratching together a good enough offence. Mariners’ fans better stock up on Advil to lessen the pain of watching those guys run the bases. Maybe one of them can make themselves useful and wake up Smoak and Ackley with a bucket of cold water.
5th – Astros – are trying to piece together a major league team and field a roster of players where some could surprise and become mainstays with the team. Names like Ely, White and Martinez pop out as guys with some upside to watch as this team tries to hone their farm system to develop players from which to build around because right now things are looking pretty dim.
Wildcard – Yankees vs. Angels
ALDS – Tigers vs. Rangers & Blue Jays vs. Yankees
ALCS – Tigers vs. Blue Jays
World Series – Blue Jays vs. N.L. opponent (click here for National League Predictions)
Reyes image via Canadian Press/Aaron Vincent Elkaim