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As a life long baseball fan, this is a very exciting time of the year for me. Not only is March Madness in full swing, Spring Training is well underway, and opening day is right around the corner. Over the next couple of days, starting with the American League today, I will preview both leagues in Major League Baseball, and give you my division predictions.
American League East
1. Toronto Blue Jays
2. Tampa Bay Rays
3. New York Yankees
4. Boston Red Sox
5. Baltimore Orioles
This season, the AL East is the toughest for me to predict in all of baseball. It feels very strange predicting the Yankees and Red Sox at 3rd and 4th in this division, but that is how I feel it will play out.
The Blue Jays have been on the cusp of contending for the past few years, and I think that this is the season that they break out. Adding SS Jose Reyes and OF Melky Cabrera to that offense with Jose Bautista, they should score plenty of runs. I also like the additions of RHP Josh Johnson and LHP Mark Buehrle to the rotation. 3B Brett Lawrie was not as productive as the Blue Jays would have hoped last season, but I love his talent, and think that he is a great candidate for a nice bounce back season.
I still like Tampa Bay this yeareven though they lost RHP James Shields. They have plenty of rotation depth and are always a solid hitting ball club. The Yankees and Red Sox are a little unknown right now. The Yankees are very injured but the talent is certainly there, although very old. The Red Sox have made some solid moves, but it is still hard to see it all come together right away, when they have struggled so much the past couple of seasons. I see a big step back from Baltimore. They were a great story last season, but I just do not see it happening again. This division is wide open. Honestly, I would not be too surprised to see any of these five teams on top at the end of the year, but give me Toronto.
American League Central
1. Detroit Tigers
2. Cleveland Indians
3. Kansas City Royals
4. Chicago White Sox
5. Minnesota Twins
The AL Central is an interesting division this season. I think Detroit will be back and as good as ever this year, and probably leads the division throughout the season.
That being said, I think the rest of the Central is much more difficult to predict. I do not think the Twins are ready to compete, and I see a big step back for the White Sox this season, so I think the second place in the AL Central comes down to the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians.
I like the James Shields acquisition for the Royals to solidify their rotation. That coupled with the natural progression of sluggers 1B Eric Hosmer, DH Billy Butler, and C Salvador Perez, I do like Kansas City this year. That being said, I am going to go with Cleveland in the second spot. I like their young talent like SS Asdrubal Cabrera, C Carlos Santana, and 2B Jason Kipnis, and they added some nice veteran pieces to that offense with guys like outfielders Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. I also think they have a solid pitching staff. The Indians are a team that I think will be much improved this season, but when it comes down to it in the AL Central the Detroit Tigers will be very tough to de-throne.
American League West
1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2. Texas Rangers
3. Oakland Athletics
4. Seattle Mariners
5. Houston Astros
I see the AL West as a very un-balanced division. At the top we have the Angels and Rangers. Talent-wise few can compete with these two teams. With last year’s rookie sensation Mike Trout back again, and the switch from Texas to Los Angeles for slugger Josh Hamilton, I give the Angels the slight edge.
Offensively, both teams will score a ton of run. Even losing Hamilton, the Rangers are a very explosive offense led by 3B Adrian Beltre. Both the Angels and Rangers have good young pitching staffs that should continue to improve this season. As of right now, I think both teams will certainly be in the race come October.
Oakland was very impressive last season, and I do like some of their young talent like outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick, and also LHP Brett Anderson. That being said, it is very hard for me to see the A’s competing with elite teams like Anaheim and Texas right now. While I do believe that the future could be bright for the Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros, both teams are still at least a season or two away from seriously contending in this division.
So I have the Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim as my division winners. For the two Wild Card spots in the AL I am going to go with the Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians. I would love to hear your opinion on teams that you like in the AL for 2013 in the comment section. Keep an eye out the next couple of days for my take on the National League.
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