With the rest of baseball starting their seasons on Friday, it’s time for the second part of our baseball preview—the American League.
For most of the last decade, the league has been considered superior to the Senior Circuit with their win/loss advantage in interleague play as well as the All-Star game. But with St. Louis’ winning of the World Series in 2011, the National League has now hoisted the trophy four out of the last six seasons.
A couple significant moves happened in the offseason that may squelch any talk of the National League being superior as both Albert Pujols (Angels) and Prince Fielder (Tigers) joined the AL and instantly made their teams better.
1. New York Yankees; Predicted Record: 93-69, Key Additions/Losses/Injuries: Exchanged top hitting prospect Jesus Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi for Seattle’s top pitching prospect Michael Pineda, three days before signing pitcher Hiroki Kuroda. Then signed Raul Ibanez to replace Montero as DH and paid the Pirates to take on A.J. Burnett’s contract. Lastly, 39-year-old Andy Pettitte signed with them on March 16. Even with aging stars Jeter and A-Rod the free-spending Yankees are still favorites to win this division for the third time in the last four years.
2. Tampa Bay Rays; Predicted Record: 91-71, Key Additions/Losses/Injuries: Rays signed two second-tier power hitters in first baseman Carlos Pena and DH Luke Scott. Though closer Kyle Farnsworth will start the season on the DL, the Rays pitching is their strength with the foursome of starters James Shields/David Price/Jeremy Hellickson/Matt Moore. With manager Joe Maddon still at the helm the Rays will be in the hunt again.
3. Boston Red Sox; Predicted Record: 86-76, Key Additions/Losses/Injuries: The Red Sox did little in the offseason besides replacing departed closer Jonathan Papelbon by trading for Oakland’s Andrew Bailey. Since then the injury-prone Bailey has landed on the DL and won’t be back until mid-season. After their late-season collapse last year Boston and their aging roster may need an overhaul.
4. Toronto Blue Jays; Predicted Record: 76-86, Key Additions/Losses/Injuries: Toronto’s main offseason move was signing closer Francisco Cordero who has averaged 39 saves the past five seasons. The Blue Jays have several good players in starting pitcher Ricky Romero and outfielder Jose Bautista but will need more before they can break through the top of this division.
5. Baltimore Orioles; Predicted Record: 66-96, Key Additions/Losses/Injuries: Despite seeing DH Luke Scott and Vladimir Guerrero leave via free agency, Baltimore still has a decent offense with Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and Matt Wieters but their starting rotation needs a major upgrade to compete in the AL East.