American League Preview

By on April 3, 2012

In the March Madness, the start of baseball season is lost. So for the hardcore baseball fans (or people that are mad their team is no longer playing) I’ll do my preview of the 2012 baseball season for the American League. Don’t worry National League fans; I’ll have your preview next week.

AL East Winner: New York Yankees

The Yankees are looking so strong coming into the season. Never mind the Yanks won the division last year, this year’s roster is stacked. Thelineup, as usual, will put up huge numbers in the launching pad that is “new” Yankee Stadium. Alex Rodriguez is showing signs of slowing down and hasn’t hit over .300 since 2008. Derek Jeter is almost an afterthought although he may hit .300. It won’t matter because Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson are each poised for big seasons and to put up around 30 homers and 115 RBI each. The rotation is stacked with the additions of Hiroki Kuroda and Michael Pineda. Pineda is going to start the season on the DL, but should he come back at 100 percent he’ll help C.C. Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia in the rotation. In the bullpen look out for Rafael Soriano to have a bounce-back season and be a strong setup man for Mariano Rivera.

The "Sandman" signs an autograph while speaking to reporters (Rocket Sports & Entertainment photo/Steve Baird)

AL Central Winner: Detroit Tigers

With the addition of Prince Fielder the Tigers have three MVP candidates on the infield. Miguel Cabrera, who moved to third base for Fielder, contended for the AL Triple Crown (lead AL in batting average, homeruns and RBI) each of the past few seasons and led the league in batting average with .344 last season. Then there’s the reigning AL MVP and AL CY Young winner, Justin Verlander. Verlander won the pitching Triple Crown and is joined in the starting rotation by Max Scherzer and Doug Porcello, who are each capable of a quality start each time out. Look out for Jose Valverde as the closer to shut down teams late in games. Another thing the Tigers have going for them is that the AL Central is pretty week. The Indians finished in second place last year, 13 games back. However, the Twins should be better once Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau both are 100 percent healthy. Also, the White Sox have too much money wrapped up in their lineup to be as bad as they were last year. Don’t forget, the Tigers may even add Victor Martinez to the lineup toward the end of the season. Martinez will start the season on the DL because of a torn ACL.

AL West Winner: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

The Angels were a tough team last season with one of the best pitching rotations in baseball and a ton of young offense. Bring back Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana, who each pitched more than 220 innings and had an earned run average below 3.5, add in C.J. Wilson and you have the best rotation in the American League. The offense, which was led by Alberto Callaspo and Mark Trumbo, will be revamped with the addition of Albert Pujols. If you haven’t heard of him, Pujols is pretty good. Also, the potential is still there for the veterans of the offense to do damage. Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells and Howie Kendrick haven’t had the greatest years since they’ve all been playing together in Los Angeles, but they could see much better pitches throughout the year thanks to teams’ fear of Pujols.

With the new wildcard system, there will be two wildcard winners who will have a one-game playoff for the right to play the team with the best record in the AL.

Wildcard winner one: Texas Rangers

The Rangers lost out on Prince Fielder. Texas failed to bring back C.J. Wilson. That offense will make everything okay. With a lineup including Mike Napoli, Nelson Cruz, Michael Young, Adrian Beltre and Josh Hamilton the Rangers may lead the majors in offense. The pitching staff isn’t the greatest, led by Colby Lewis and former closer Neftali Feliz, but with the addition of Japanese superstar Yu Darvish the staff will certainly be interesting to watch for Ranger fans. This is a team that won the AL West last season, but the additions made by the Angels will be tough to compete with.

Wildcard winner two: Boston Red Sox

The biggest losses for the Red Sox were manager Terry Francona (replaced by Bobby Valentine) and general manager Theo Epstein (who left for the Chicago Cubs) and the loss of Epstein especially will hurt the Sox in the long run. For this season, Boston will bounce back to from missing the postseason last year and make the playoffs this year. Jacoby Ellsbury was an AL MVP candidate last year. Dustin Pedroia has won an MVP and won’t be slowing down. If not for Pujols Adrian Gonzalez would probably be the best first baseman of this generation. Kevin Youkilis had a bad season, but look for a bounce back. Ortiz will probably start slow and end up hitting .280 with 25 to 30 homers. Cody Ross led the Giants to a World Series in 2010 and new in left field for Boston. Jarrod Saltalamacchia has proven he can hit in the big leagues. Ryan Sweeney and Mike Aviles were both solid players on awful teams throughout their careers. That’s right I just named Boston’s lineup one through nine. Watch out for runs! The question is if Jon Lester will be the only solid pitcher or if Josh Beckett and Clay Bucholz can get back to the top of their games.

AL Cy Young Winner: David Price

Last year, David Price working on his four hit, ten strike-out, no walk gem at the Trop against Toronto Thursday afternoon. (photo by Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE)

So what I get to see him pitch several times throughout the summer while I’m home in Tampa. Boy is good. Last year was one of his worst seasons in his career and he pitched 224 innings with an ERA of 3.49. His record of 12-13 was largely due to a lack of run support. Since James Shields had such a good year last season, Price will be the number two starter. This will help him calm down and take pressure off himself. When Price doesn’t put pressure on himself and just pitches he is incredible. Look for him to put up numbers similar to 2010 when he finished second in the AL Cy Young race.

AL MVP: Albert Pujols

There are so many ways someone can go here. You can give your vote to whoever has the better year of Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera. You can give it to Hamilton, who may compete for the AL Triple Crown. Justin Verlander won it last year, so you know voters aren’t afraid to reward a pitcher of an incredible year. But because I expect the Angels to go from missing the playoffs to one of the best records in baseball I think tons of credit will go to Pujols. The transition from the NL to the AL will be fairly easy because instead of playing first base every day, Pujols has the luxury of being the designated hitter every now and then. Teams will pitch around Pujols and it will take him a month or so to adjust to AL pitching, but I fully expect Pujols to hit 40 homers and have close to 120 RBI. Look for “The Machine” to keep producing solid numbers.

Categories: Baseball, Sports
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.