My 2012 Regular Season Predictions-American League
By Scott Andes
It is that time of year again. It is the time I sit down, and I make my pre-season predictions for the upcoming Baseball regular season. The great thing about Baseball is you just never know what is going to happen. You can’t predict the game. I don’t care what the hardcore stat heads tell me. Former pitcher, and fall classic toilet destroyer Joaquin Andujar had a saying for it…”youneverknow” . Baseball is unpredictable. I will try my best though. I will give my predictions for all six divisions, wild cards, and I will provide win-loss records as well. Put on your blue thinking caps and follow me….
I will start with the American League east division. The American League will be more difficult for me to predict since I don’t follow these teams closely. So I will do my best. After sifting through depth charts, I still see the Yankees as the top team, although the Rays and Red Sox should be competitive as well. I’ll pick the Yankees, even though they’re full of old guys. I won’t say they will win the pennant, but I’ll take them over the Rays and Red Sox to win the division.
However the Yankees should beware. They are getting older. Jorge Posada is long gone, and closer Mariano Rivera is thinking about retiring after this season. Even Mr. Pinstripe himself, Derek Jeter, is getting older. Despite the fact that the team is old, their strength is still in their ability to generate runs at any time. They have a powerful lineup. The Bullpen should be strong, with one more year from Rivera and David Robertson, and Joba Chamberlin are still there to provide middle innings and set-up duties. The only area they had question marks was their starting rotation which they made stronger by stealing away Hiroki Kuroda from us. They also have former Dodger catcher Russell Martin and all the other all-stars around their diamond. The Yankees better win now before their players get too old. Much of the burden will fall on Ace C.C. Sabathia’s big shoulders, as he will once again lead the staff against the toughest division in Baseball.
Tampa Bay should give the Yankees a run for their money. They are built a bit differently than the Yankees. They don’t have as good of a lineup, but are built around pitching and defense. They have a lot of athletic players. Guys like, Matt Joyce, B.J. Upton, Evan Longoria, and Sam Fuld. They re-acquired Carlos Pena to play first base, and hit home runs. Their strength is in their rotation. The solid staff is anchored by James Shields, David Price, and has young phenoms, Jeremy Hellickson, and Matt Moore. Naturally I am very jealous. Their bullpen will be led by electric fan destroyer and knucklehead Kyle Farnsworth. His first season as Tampa Bay closer last year was a success, as he pitched in 63 games, and saved 25 out of 31, while posting a 2.18 ERA, and a 0.99 WHIP. Impressive numbers. The Rays finished second place last season, and I think they will at least finish that high this season. The wild card should be within their grasp.
After the Red Sox beat the crap out of the Dodgers during their 2010 inter-league series, so I shed no tears after watching their monumentally embarrassing meltdown during the final days of the 2011 season. However after thinking back on that disaster, even I feel sorry for Red Sox fans. Terry Francona stepped down after that, and they have a new Manager (Bobby Valentine), and GM (Ben Charington), who both have their work cut out for them in Boston. I can still remember Jonathon Papelbon throwing 99 MPH fastball after another. One out away, and that miracle Baltimore rally, as the game winning hit was nearly caught by a sliding Carl Crawford in left field. How about the Orioles though huh? The game was meaningless for them, other than fact they wanted to knock Boston out of the playoffs, but I digress. The core of the Red Sox is still the same though. “Big Pappi” David Ortiz is still the DH, “The greek god of walks” Kevin Youkalis is still at the hot corner, and they still have Adrian Gonzalez, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Dustin Pedroia, leading a very potent lineup. The rotation isn’t spectacular, but if everyone stays healthy, its formidable. Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, and Clay Bucholtz have to stay healthy for the Red Sox to have a chance to beat the Yankees and Rays. Papelbon is now gone, replaced by closer Andrew Bailey who used to be with the A’s. The Red Sox also swooped up Kelly Shoppach for catching depth. The Red Sox still have a pretty strong team, and a have a very good chance of making the playoffs.
The Blue Jays, and Orioles should finish at the bottom of the division. The Blue Jays are a young team, with no huge financial commitments. They could be contenders in a couple of years. Not now though, despite having one of the best hitters in the Jose Bautista. Supposedly, the Blue Jays have a great front office, although I’m not going to start singing their praises until they actually win something. I don’t see them competing with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays. Sorry Toronto fans, maybe next year.
The American League Central is probably the weakest division of the three. I’m going with the Tigers to win their second straight AL Central title. They have a tremendously scary lineup. We watched with annoyance as Victor Martinez tore his ACL, and the Tigers swooped in at the last possible minute to steal Prince Fielder away from us. Spilled milk of course. On the bright side, we do get to watch and see if Miguel Cabrera remembers how to play third base. That should be hilarious. Why don’t they stick Cabrera at third base? Will Ryan Raburn and Delmen Young should share DH duties. Defending MVP, and Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander will once again lead their strong pitching staff. Detroit is the team to beat in the AL Central.
If there is a sleeper team here, it could be the Royals. Sure the White Sox and Twins should have their moments, but the Royals just might surprise some people. I know that they haven’t seen the postseason since I was five years old and Ronald Reagan was president, but reports are they are moving in the right direction. They have a ridiculous amount of great young prospects led by first baseman Eric Hosmer, who is poised for a strong sophomore year. They have some decent young pitchers and a solid closer (Joakim Soria), unless they trade him. Hey they even have Jonathon Broxton now, who is slated to be penciled in for the 8th innings. It’s a win-win for Broxton, as he gets to enjoy that famous Midwest rib eye barbecue. Mmmmmm good.
The American League west should be a dogfight between the Angels and Rangers. Not much else to say here as there is two good teams and two bad teams in this division.
Both teams made major moves during the winter. The Angels made the biggest free agent signing with the mega-deal handed to Albert Pujols, which was clearly annoying. They also signed C.J. Wilson to pair with Jered Weaver and Dan Haren on a very deep pitching staff. They also have many other talented players who can play multiple positions. The Rangers had to replace C.J. Wilson, and did so with a huge splash, signing Japanese sensation Yu Darvish. They have constructed a perfect lineup for that bandbox they play at. I am very jealous that they have our old friend Adrian Beltre. They put Neftali Feliz in the rotation, and they have a rebuilt bullpen. I am hoping Texas takes the division, since we will never hear the end of the boasting from Angel fans out here because they have Albert Pujols, and they’re good now. Whatever. Riddle me this though Angel fans, have you forgotten that it took a DODGER Mike Scioscia, to turn you into winners? Don’t worry Dodger fans will remind you.
The Halos and Rangers weren’t the only AL west teams to make big moves. The small market Oakland A’s signed Cuban Center fielder Yoenis Cespedes. The good thing though, is this should be the final time I will ever have to spell or say Yoenis Cespedes ever again. Oh wait the Dodgers play the A’s later this season don’t they? Dam. Oh Oakland also inked Manny Ramirez. Have fun with that Oakland.
Now that we know for sure the ten team playoff format is a go for this year, we can actually finish making our predictions. I will take Tampa Bay and the Angels, which leaves Boston out again. Remind me to cry a river later. I think the Angels will be the top wild card.
I have decided to chunk this up into two parts. Below are my predictions, complete with win-loss records and who will win the wild cards. All of these predictions are coming straight from my head without the benefit of any projections. I am using my own mental projections. Let’s see how many I get right at the end of the season.
If you would like, please check out our blog roll on the main page to view the other 29 MLB team sites on Fansided. Those guys obviously know more about what is going on with their respective teams than I do. Since you all know we love polls over here, we have another one for you. Who do you think will win the AL Pennant? Let us know. Next week I will have part two which will be the National League.
AL East GB1.New York 94-68 –*2.Tampa Bay 91-71 33. Boston 88-74 64. Toronto 84-78 105. Baltimore 75-87 19
AL Central GB1.Detroit 100-62 –2. Kansas City 85-77 153.Chicago 84-78 164.Cleveland 81-81 195. Minnesota 76-86 24 AL West GB1.Texas 99-63 –*2. Angels 97-65 23. Seattle 72-90 274. Oakland 68-94 31*Wild Cards=Angels, Tampa Bay*