Who Is the Favorite to Win the American League?

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Who Is the Favorite to Win the American League?

...No one! The MLB season is winding down and we've had plenty of surprises.  

The Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles shocked the baseball world by making the playoffs. The Detroit Tigers made a late season surge to pass the Chicago White Sox and win the AL Central. Pre-season favorite Los Angeles Angels failed to make the dance.  

Usually there is a team who could be considered a favorite to win their league, but this year, I don't see one.

In the American League, all five playoff teams already have punched their ticket to October. The three division winners from last year are back (Yankees, Tigers, and Rangers,) along with the two surprise teams; the Orioles and Athletics.  

As of Tuesday, the Yankees and Rangers are tied for the best record in the American league, with the Yankees possessing the tiebreaker due to a better head to head record. The Orioles and A's are one game back for the best record, and the Tigers are getting hot at the right time.

Each team in the Junior Circuit has their weakness' and it doesn't seem like one has an edge over the other.

The Yankees lineup has been dry at times, especially A-Rod, who has been brutal since returning from his hand injury. The forth spot in the rotation could also be a problem, since both Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova have had issues limiting the long ball.  

However, the main problem for the Yankees is durability. Three of their most important players; Mark Teixeira, Andy Pettitte, and Alex Rodriguez need to stay healthy and on the field if the Yankees want a shot to win title number 28.

Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Yu Darvish is one of the many Rangers starting pitchers who will need to come up big in October.

 

The Rangers, two-time defending American League champs, also look primed to make another run.

Unlike the last two seasons, the Rangers don't have their two consistent playoff performers, C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis. In their place, the Rangers have 18-game winner Matt Harrison, long time Chicago Cub Ryan Dempster, Japanese phenom Yu Darvish, and inconsistent left-handed pitcher Derek Holland.

The bullpen has been strong for the Rangers all year long, having the second-best save percentage in the AL. They will score plenty of runs, but will the pitching be good enough for the two-time defending American League champs to repeat again? I'm not sure.

The Detroit Tigers started heating up at the perfect time. Miguel Cabrera may become the first player since 1967 to win the triple crown. He leads Mike Trout in batting average by .04 points, Josh Hamilton in home runs by 1, and in RBI's by 10.  

Justin Verlander has had a very solid 2012, after his MVP and Cy Young 2011 season. Along with Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Rick Porcello, and Anibal Sanchez give the Tigers a pitching staff to be reckoned with.  

The offense can score, and the starting pitching is fairly solid, but I'm very worried about the bullpen and fielding. Jose Valverde has regressed a lot after his perfect 2011 campaign, blowing five saves. Setup man Joaquin Benoit leads all American League relievers in home runs allowed, with 14.  

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
The Oakland A's looked very happy to clinch a playoff birth last night.

It was a tough road to make the postseason but the Tigers look ready to make a run.

After 14 losing seasons, the Baltimore Orioles are back in the postseason. Buck Showalter has led the young O's to an impressive 2012 campaign.  

The Orioles have won 16 straight extra inning games and are a remarkable 28-9 in one run games. One of the biggest reasons the O's have been able to win close games is closer Jim Johnson, who leads the majors with 50 saves.  

The offense has been better than predicted, as the Orioles are 2nd in the majors in home runs, led by Adam Jones, who has 32 of them, Chris Davis (32), Mark Reynolds (23), Matt Wieters (23), and J.J. Hardy (22).

The starting rotation is going to be the key if the O's are to make some noise in the 2012 playoffs, and I'm not sure how well they'll do vs some of the best offenses in the game.

 

A year after Moneyball, the story of the surprising 2002 Athletics, was released in theaters, the Oakland Athletics are looking to do even better this year.

After beating out the preseason favorite Los Angeles Angels, the Oakland Athletics are in the postseason for the first time since 2006. A team full of rookie pitchers, castoff players, and power hitters, the A's are definitely a hard team to predict.

Unless Brett Anderson returns from his oblique injury, the A's will most likely pitch three rookies in their postseason rotation. Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, and Tommy Milone have a lot on their plate, and may not be able to handle the postseason pressure.  

The intriguing offense, which led the major leagues with 14 walk-off hits, is led by Cuban defector Yoenis Cespdes and former Red Sox outfielder Josh Reddick.  The team is very young and inexperienced, so I'm not sure how far this team can go in the playoffs. However, they've been fighting all year long, so they have a shot to shock the world.

It should be a very exciting postseason this year, and I can't wait to see which team steps up and takes the American League crown.  Let me know who you think will win the American League in the comments down below.

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