2010 American League Predictions
Spring training has just begun. But the suspense for the 2010 Major League Baseball season is not the same as past years. No huge free agents. No major injuries. No steroid scandals this year.
But what will stand out for many teams this season is the talent of the new generation of players. Sluggers like Joe Mauer, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, and Mark Teixeira are all in the prime of their careers, and they are expected to lead their team to the playoffs.
From 1-14, here is a look at how the 2010 season will play out for every American League team.
No. 1 The New York Yankess
The Yankees are still the best team in the American League without any questions.
They are bringing back all of the key players that helped them capture a Major League best 103 win season, and a World Series title a season ago.
The moves they made in the offseason, although unpopular amongst Yankee fans, have been very wise. They refused to re-sign aging outfielder Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon for top dollars, and instead traded for one of the best young center fielders in the game in Curtis Granderson.
On top of that they've added another solid pitching arm by trading for Javier Vazquez at the expense of center fielder Melki Cabrera. The addition of Vazquez, makes the Yankee rotation one of the most dangerous in the league along with CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, and Joba Chamberlain.
Not to mentioned that they still have the best lineup in the American League with Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and Mark Teixeira, and a bullpen led by Mariano Rivera.
A-Rod, Sabathia, Burnett, Granderson and Teixeira, and second baseman Robinson Cano are all in their prime and there will be no stopping this team.
No team in the American League is as complete as the New York Yankees who will win the American League East, and then head back to the world series.
No. 2 The Texas Rangers
Yes, that's right, the same young team that choked last September, and failed to win the wild card, will now win out the wild wild West division.
Why? It's their ability to hit. They have a young, dynamic, offense that should power their way in the playoffs. Second baseman Ian Kinsler, and outfielder Nelson Cruz both hit over 30 home runs last season, and third baseman Michael Young had 22. These sluggers are young, and will only be better in 2010.
This year with a healthy Josh Hamilton, and with the addition of Vladimir Guerero, the Texas Ranger lineup just got a whole lot scarier. The Rangers also have rising star, Elvis Andrus, who looked solid for the Rangers last year at age 21, in his rookie season.
But the best move the Rangers made in the offseason was the acquisition of power pitcher Rich Harden who makes them the best team in the American League West.
No. 3 The Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox have the best pitching staff in the game.
They have seven potential starting pitchers. Yes, that's right, seven! Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Dice-K Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, and Boof Bonser.
They have a bullpen full of weapons, with Jonathan Papelbon, Daniel Bard, and Hedeki Okijima. They have the best pitching coach in the league too in John Farrell.
But with all those attributes, their lineup, which once was the best in baseball, is now a little weaker.
Just like last season, their lack of a solid power hitter, will prevent them from beating out the Yankees.
Who will replace Jason Bay? Is it Adrian Beltre? Mike Cameron? Marco Scutaro? The Sox are good, but not good enough to win a championship. They'll win the wild card, but that's as far as the season will take them.
No. 4 The Minnesota Twins
They've increased their payroll and made all the right moves this winter.
Now the Twins will win the Central with ease.
Not only do they have two of the top hitters in the American League in Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, but now they've added shortstop JJ Hardy, second baseman Orlando Hudson, and veteran slugger Jim Thome.
They won't need a one-game playoff this year, as they'll cruise into the playoffs and win the Central Division. But their lack of a solid pitching staff will prevent them from advancing past the first round.
No. 5 The Seattle Mariners
The Mariners may have had the best off season out of any American League team.
They resigned Ken Griffey Jr. so he will finish career in Seattle. They traded for the 2008 AL Cy Young Award Winner Cliff Lee and added the speedy Chone Figgins, stealing him away from division-rival Anaheim Angels.
The Mariners have not been to the playoffs since 2001, which was also Ichiro's fist season in the majors. What's been missing since then is pitching and this year, they have the best one-two punch in the League. Lee and 23-year-old Feliz Hernandez should each win over 17 games.
But the Mariners will likely miss the playoffs yet again with the absence of a middle of a lineup power hitter.
No. 6 The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
They may have the smartest coach in the league, but even Angels manager Mike Scioscia will not lead this team to the playoffs.
As usual, the Angels failed to dish out money to their best players. In the last two seasons they lost Francisco Rodriguez, Chone Figgins,Vladamir Guerero, and John Lackey to free agency. The loss of Figgins, Guerero, and Lackey has made their league rivals, the Mariners, Rangers and Red Sox even better.
The Angels did sign 2009 World Series MVP Hideki Matsui and resign outfielder Bobby Abreau, but their strongest team quality is still their pitching and defense.
At the end of last season they traded for Tampa Bay Rays ace Scott Kazmir. Kazmir will join Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana, Jared Weaver, and newly acquired free agent Joel Piniero to form a deep pitching staff.
If these arms stay healthy, the Angels will plow their way into the playoffs and hope to win another American League Division. If not they'll be on the outside looking in, wishing they dished out money during free agency.
No. 7 The Tampa Bay Rays
A year after shocking the baseball world by winning the American League Championship in 2008, the Rays returned to their usual selves in 2009.
Although this team has the best young player in the game in Evan Longoria, they still won't have enough pop in their lineup to contend with New York and Boston.
The Rays pitching staff won't be the same. Last season they traded their ace Scott Kazmir to the Angels in a move that still has Rays fans shaking their heads.
But they could look at the bright side. A show will be put on for them each and every game with emergence of Longoria. In only two season the third baseman already has 60 home runs and 198 run batted in and should contend for the MVP this year.
No. 8 The Detroit Tigers
Last year They blew an enormous division lead and lost on the last day of the season in a one game playoff.
The Tigers 2009 season fell quicker than the Motor City's economy.
But the Tigers will look to bounce back in 2010. They added the best free agent closer Jose Valverde. They have dept in their batting lineup and pitching rotation.
Now it's up to the bullpen to glue this team together and bring them back to the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
No. 9 The Chicago White Sox
The Sox from the South Side will experience yet another rebuilding season after winning the World Series in 2005.
They've strengthened their team at the end of last season with pitcher Jake Peavy and outfielder Alexi Rios and in the off season he added closer J.J. Putz, Andruw Jones, and speedy outfielder Juan Pierre.
But right now the Sox will look to rebuild around young infielder Gordon Beckham so they can contend with the rest of the AL Central. Beckham had 14 home runs as a rookie last season, and should hit more power with more at bats and experience.
No. 10 The Kansas City Royals
The Royals will surprise a lot of fans this year. They will start to win.
Last year they had the best pitcher in the American League in Zack Greinke, now they have a few bats to score runs for him.
They've added veteran catcher Jason Kendall, and outfielders Scott Posednick and Rick Ankiel. They're not all stars but they're a good group of hitters that will mix well with the Royals young team.
No. 11 The Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles haven't seen postseason baseball since 1997, and it will not happen this year either.
However, their lineup will give a lot of opposing teams problems. Rising star Adam Jones had 19 home runs, and all star right fielder Nick Markakis had 18 in 2009. Now the two outfielders will play along side short stop Miguel Tejeda, who looks to return to return to Baltimore after an all star season in Houston last year.
Look for the Orioles offense to make a push at a winning-season, only to be let down by another disappointing season because of their awful pitching staff.
No. 12 The Oakland Athletics
The A's big news this offseason was signing starting pitcher Ben Sheets who missed all of last season while recovering from shoulder surgery.
That may be their only good news this whole year. They have a weak lineup, pitching staff, and bullpen.
Their top hitter Travis Buck had a team best 19 home runs is their only sign of power in the offense that contains scrappy hitters like Coco Crisp and Eric Patterson.
The A's will struggle, especially since they are playing in the American League's best division.
No. 13 The Toronto Blue Jays
No Roy Halladay. No chance.
The Blue Jays are starting from scratch this year. They traded away their franchise starting pitcher Roy Halladay. They fired General Manager J.P Richiardi. They traded away veteran Scott Rolen.
They unleashed high contract player Alexi Rios and are still looking for any team to take even a portion of center fielder Vernon Well's $100 million contract.
The 2010 Blue Jays will look like a minor league team and it will be painful to watch them play this season.
No. 14 The Cleveland Indians
The drum that bangs in Cleveland's Progressive Field will beat a little softer this season.
Just three years after the Indians played in the American League Championship, they look like the worst team in baseball.
Not even Grady Sizemore's athleticism or the thousands of flies that attacked Joba Chamberlain in the 07' playoffs can help this team.
In 2008, Cy Young award winner CC Sabathia was traded. In '09 it was de ja vu all over again when Cliff Lee was shipped to Philadelphia. All of the Indians great player are gone, and the team will fail to win games in 2010.