MLB 2012: American League Predictions

Topic: Projecting how the American League will shape up including division winners and wild cards.

Panel: Doug Nilsen, Matt Riggleman, and Matt Horn

Division winners in red, wild cards in orange.

AL East The Doug MR M. Horn
1 Boston Red Sox Tampa Bay Rays Boston Red Sox
2 Tampa Bay Rays Boston Red Sox New York Yankees
3 Toronto Blue Jays Toronto Blue Jays Tampa Bay Rays
4 New York Yankees New York Yankees Toronto Blue Jays
5 Baltimore Orioles Baltimore Orioles Baltimore Orioles
AL Central
1 Detroit Tigers Detroit Tigers Detroit Tigers
2 Minnesota Twins Minnesota Twins Chicago White Sox
3 Cleveland Indians Kansas City Royals Minnesota Twins
4 Chicago White Sox Cleveland Indians Kansas City Royals
5 Kansas City Royals Chicago White Sox Cleveland Indians
AL West
1 Texas Rangers Texas Rangers Texas Rangers
2 Los Angeles Angels Los Angeles Angels Los Angeles Angels
3 Oakland Athletics Seattle Mariners Oakland Athletics
4 Seattle Mariners Oakland Athletics Seattle Mariners

The Doug: Everything went wrong for Boston last year (slow start, alcoholic pitchers, quit on manager, injuries) and it still looked like they’d make the playoffs with 2 innings left in the season.  This year with one of the best motivating managers and a stock of talent, I unfortunately see a lot of wins coming.  The AL East is so good that I could see the Yanks in 4th with a mid-to-high 80’s win total.  It’s going to be interesting:  every game will count.

To the opposite, the AL Central looks one-sided.  The only team with enough talent (Chicago) to challenge gutted its team after a everything-went-wrong season that makes Boston’s look pleasant.  I’ve heard “the young Royals are coming” before yet they haven’t had 85 wins since I was in elementary school.

The AL West looks too easy.The Rangers look great (more talented than their previous two pennant-winners), the Angels look very good, the A’s look potentially mediocre, and the M’s look destined for 66-96. Makes me worried…it seems too easy.

MR: AL  East – I think the combination of high end young pitching and up-and-coming offense. I think it’s key that they all came up together too. This year, it comes together. I do like the Red Sox a lot and I think they’ll bounce back – I just don’t think they have the Rays’ rotation. Toronto is quietly putting together a competitive team up north, and I, like a lot of people, think they have a chance this year. The Yankees in 4th is almost a crime..but I think it’s entirely possible. I don’t really believe Pineda can succeed there, and that gives them a bunch of rotation question marks, to go along with an aging lineup of starters. Baltimore is also in “rebuilding mode” though I use quotes here because there doesn’t appear to be much success yet.

Al Cenral – I don’t think one team is great here. Detroit’s D scares me…but they’re clearly better than everyone else. Minnesota is scrappy as always, and I think they have a chance of competing. The Royals are on the rise, but a lot of things have to click to be great this year, and I’m not sold on their young aces yet. Cleveland could be sneaky good..I just think the Royals have a greater stable of talent. The White Sox are full of aging “talent” and a questionable pitching staff..I just don’t think they going to be competitive.

Al West – This is definitely a top –heavy division..so I’m going to go in reverse. Oakland and Seattle are both allegedly rebuilding. Angels are great..and I totally believe in them…but the Rangers are really great…and they play in a better ballpark and have less question marks regarding their starters. I think the Rangers could win it all.

Horn: I love the Rays in the east, but playing in this division against the Yanks and Sox has to be madness. I think Tampa has the best rotation in the division, just not the best line-up. The Red Sox line up is stacked. Yes, Youk has been hurt, and Crawford struggled, but A-Gon, Pedroia, and Ellsbury still kept this club at the 90 win plateau. The Red Sox are going to be angry after last year’s collapse and nobody is going to like them when they are angry.

The central was by far the easiest division to pick. Tigers finish first. I almost threw some darts to figure out who would finish 2-5, none of the other teams will crack .500. Royals have a pipeline of talent on the rise, but I’m not pushing them to far to fast, I’m keeping them on a leash.

Like the Tigers in the central, all three of us have the Rangers winning the west. The formula is simple. Rangers play in a homer friendly park and have 5 guys who can hit 30 homers in their line-up. Couple that with a decent young staff headed by newly imported Yu Darvish, that equals another division title. Angels get the wild card, but the Rangers win this thing by at least 5-7 games.

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