April 4, 2010

2010 American League preview

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball, Picks

There’s an odd little quirk to the American League that has a bunch of people talking about realignment and the possibility of some teams roving between divisions season-to-season. That quirk is that three of the best teams in baseball happen to reside in one division, the AL East.

The defending champion Yankees are the big dogs in this town. After a couple years are spending far too much money on all the wrong players — Carl Pavano anyone — it seems like they’ve finally reined themselves in, started developing their own talent and have targetted the right guys in free agency. Now, they’re set repeat their success at New Yankee Stadium and it hasn’t cost them that much down the road. The only real question is when will their biggest stars — Jeter and Rivera — have to step aside and how much longer can they consistently dominate?

Their chief rivals, the Red Sox have gone down a path quite opposite of the Yanks. They’ve put together one of the finest defensive teams in the league without sacrificing too much on the offensive side. With deep pitching and a solid all around team, the BoSox shouldn’t have trouble keeping up near the top of the divison.

Then there’s the Tampa Bay Rays, who just keep turning out amazing prospects and keep themselves in this former two-horse race. As long as they keep doing things the smart way and keep their young talents on the field, they’re going to be challenging the big boys and even giving them a scare or two.

This year the drop off to four and five are steeper than usual. The Orioles have an alright lineup, but their pitching staff is still a few good arms away from making them a threat. The Blue Jays have started their rebuilding efforts after years of keeping it in neutral. Don’t expect much from these two.

The Central may not have the horses that the East does, but the race will still be stunning. The Tigers, Twins and White Sox all have legitimate chances at taking the division crown but each has their own issues. The Tigers’ lineup isn’t as great as it has been in recent seasons, the Twins lost closer Joe Nathan and their rotation isn’t very strong and the White Sox always have some health and consistency issues. This wide-open race could come down to the last day, again.

As for the the young and rebuilding Indians and Royals, well, thanks for coming out guys, give it a couple of years and then we’ll talk about bumping you up.

Out west, this could be the year that the Halos lose their crown. Their deceptively good lineup is still potent, losing John Lackey won’t faze their rotation and their bullpen might even be stronger. The only thing is that their competition has stepped it up.

The Seattle Mariners acquired Cliff Lee in the off-season to give them a great one-two punch with Felix Hernandez. They may not have a ton of power in their lineup, but they can manufacture runs with their contact hitters and speed.

The Rangers have finally started to benefit from developing their young guns. Neftali Perez will be a rookie of the year candidate whether he’s in the rotation or the bullpen. Their lineup is strong and their arms can finally start to do some heavy lifting.

Then there’s the wildcard of the West, the Oakland Athletics. The moneyball inventors have pulled together their trademark great rotation and shouldn’t disappoint. Their lineup leaves some to be desired but it’s not as bad as it has been. Besides, with good young arms like they’ve got, they may only need a couple runs per game.

Finally, to round this whole thing off, here’s the Cliff Notes of RTP’s picks

AL East: New York Yankees
AL Central: Detroit Tigers
AL West: Texas Rangers
AL Wildcard: Boston Red Sox
NL East: Philadelphia Phillies
NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals
NL West: Colorado Rockies
NL Wildcard: Florida Marlins
World Series: Yankees over Cardinals.
AL MVP: Mark Teixeira
NL MVP: Albert Pujols
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander
NL Cy Young: Roy Halladay

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