Granderson sliding into second in game one of a pivotal four game series with Evan Longoria and Tampa Bay
The American League will be won by either Tampa or the Yankees, no doubt. They'll both get out of the first round, too, easily.
Don't be fooled by Texas or Minnesota. The two teams are a combined 10-18 against Tampa Bay and New York, and could've been a lot worse if Texas hadn't swept the Yankees recently in Arlington. Not to mention, the Yankees were in the middle of a cold streak at the time.
People who don't understand the game get way too worked up when they see that Texas has a record of 83-65 (just six behind the Yankees and Rays in the loss column) with a nine-game division lead, and when they see that Minnesota is 89-60 (just a game behind the Yankees) with a 10-game division lead.
The Yankees and the Rays are both much better than Minnesota and Texas than the records say they are.
First, look at their divisions.
Start with the AL Central. They have one other decent team, Chicago, who really isn't anything special. They have a barely over .500 Tigers team and two terrible teams in Kansas City and Cleveland.
The AL West doesn't even have any other team over .500 in the division!
Meanwhile in the AL East, the fourth-place Toronto Blue Jays are 75-74. The third-place Red Sox are 83-66, just a half-game behind Texas in the overall standings.
You could argue that Boston would win either of the other divisions over Texas or Minnesota with the easier schedules in those divisions. Keep in mind that teams play roughly 75 games against division opponents. The Yankees and Rays both have much tougher schedules than Texas and the Twins.
Also, another point that can be made is that the Yankees and Rays beat each other up. In their 14 meetings so far, the Yankees have won six games and the Rays have won 8. They start a four-game series tonight, and when the two teams play each other this competitively, neither can separate themselves from one another or any other team in the American League.
Another problem that could arise for Texas and Minnesota is starting pitching.
For Texas, Cliff Lee has been anything but consistent, and who comes after him?
You want me to trust C.J. Wilson? Sure, he's been a good story, but come playoff time, him, Tommy Hunter, and Colby Lewis are question marks.
And for Minnesota? Who can honestly say they'd be 100 percent confident giving the ball to Liriano or Pavano? Give me Sabathia and Pettitte or Garza and Price any day of the week over those guys.
The Twins and Rangers are good ball clubs, don't get me wrong. Don't be fooled by the records though. The Yankees and Rays are just flat out better. It will come down to these two teams in the ALCS, because they're the best teams.