Fearless Fantasy Baseball Predictions: American League

Collin HagerSenior Writer IMarch 13, 2009

As we're getting into the bulk of spring training, things are shaping up for us to be able to make some projections as to what we should expect this season. Of course, regardless of what's going on, we could make plenty of predictions and be right or wrong.
Here's a list of what I expect to happen this season, some reasons why, and some thoughts to ponder as you prepare for your drafts and begin to look at the regular season.
Today, I will focus on the American League.
If I bat .300 on these, I'll take that as a good thing...

Alex Rodriguez, Yankees, 3B

Even if A-Rod doesn't crack the Yankees' lineup until the middle of May, he still manages to close in on 35 home runs and 100 RBI. If this injury is closer to the type Chase Utley had, Rodriguez should be fine to get through the season.

I believe he'll still perform. Being out of the limelight might do the guy some good.


David Ortiz, Red Sox, DH

Ortiz won't hit 30 home runs. We can account for most of the dip in his stats in 2008 with a wrist injury. Already, though, he's been saddled with a problem in his left shoulder that had him at a loss during the WBC.

The swings he took in the games against the Netherlands were abysmal. Not the results, the swings themselves.


Mark Teixeira, Yankees, 1B

Teixeira will struggle without Rodriguez in the lineup. He's a notoriously slow starter, and this isn't going to help. He hit just .271 before the break last year, compared to .366 after it.

Over the last three years, he's hit 40 points lower before the All-Star game than after.


Matt Wieters, Orioles, C

He's is not the second coming, but he'll be solid. The rookie was hitting over .400 at my last check of his spring stats. Of course, there are guys you've never heard of with better averages in March.

Wieters hasn't played above AA, but if he gets a majority of the season in the majors, he should produce moderately well. I like him for .270/17/65 if he's in the pros by May.


Kelly Shoppach, Indians, C

The Indians will have a hard time keeping Shoppach out of the lineup. Shoppach hit 21 home runs last season in taking time from Victor Martinez.

Two-catcher leagues need to make sure this guy is owned. He'll still get 300 at-bats and still hit 15 home runs.


Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, 1B

Miguel Cabrera will be the steal of the first round. Cabrera came on like a wildfire in the second half of 2008, and will most certainly carry that forward into 2009.

I have him ranked over Pujols in my first base rankings (take it for what you will), and he'll perform that way.


Kansas City Royals lineup gets a boost

It's better than we think, and has some fantasy potential. Mike Jacobs has power, Coco Crisp proved he's not done yet, and Mike Aviles was a steal as a call-up in 2008.

That's all before we get to Billy Butler and the potential of Alex Gordon.

They aren't as bad as everyone might think. Crisp will be solid in deep leagues and AL-only formats.

Gordon will be a mid-round steal at third that will produce at much better value.


Matt Holliday, Athletics, LF

While the A's might be better, Matt Holliday is still going to disappoint based on where he's being drafted. The differences in the league alone are going to pull his first-half numbers down.

The bigger ballpark and Coors Field change are going to make that change harder.


Twins' rotation expected to produce

The Twins rotation will be solid in fantasy this season. Obviously, we all like Francisco Liriano, but Kevin Slowey, Scott Baker, and even Nick Blackburn are going to prove valuable.

Baker's strikeouts per nine innings ratio and production at home make him a solid addition to staffs. Yes, Baker has struggled some this spring, but don't pay attention to these early numbers. He's working on breaking pitches.

Blackburn pitched well at home last season, and that will make him valuable as a spot start in daily leagues.


Adam Lind, Blue Jays, LF

Lind will be a bigger surprise and have more fantasy impact than Travis Snider in 2009. Snider gets all the hype, but Lind began to produce in 2008. He hit .280 in 88 games with nine home runs.

He'll be full-time this season, and will hit .285 and knock 20-plus home runs. You'll be able to find him at the end of every draft.


Elvis Andrus, Rangers, SS

Elvis Andrus will steal 40 bases this season as the Rangers' starting shortstop. Andrus isn't going to hit for a crazy amount of power, but he can get on base and should hit low enough in the lineup that the expectations aren't going to be unrealistic.

Speed translates at any level, and he'll provide that.


Evan Longoria-B.J. Upton, Devil Rays

Longoria will not go through a sophomore slump, and B.J. Upton's power will come back. The Longoria piece is pretty safe, but Upton started to display power in the playoffs, so we know it's there.

He should be back around 20 home runs this season in that lineup.


Closers on the verge of being ousted

Four closers will lose their jobs in the American League before the end of June. My money is on Troy Percival, George Sherrill, the winner out of spring training in Detroit, and Brad Ziegler.


Brian Fuentes, Angels, CL

Fuentes will regain the form he had in Colorado. I know he lost his job before, but the Angels have some luxury here. Fuentes is out to prove himself as an elite closer again, and the way the Angels use the bullpen will limit his mistakes.

They don't look for many four-out saves, and that's a boost to his value.


That covers our thoughts on what might happen in the American League.

Everyone enjoy your weekends!


Collin Hager writes The Elmhurst Pub Blog. You can have your fantasy questions answered by sending an email to elmhurstpubroundtable@yahoo.com. He's also on Twitter @TheRoundtable.


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