Is it just me, or has MLB seen more and more surprise teams each and every year?
In 2005, even though they weren't a huge surprise, the White Sox took the AL Central Division crown away from the Minnesota Twins and eventually preceded to win the World Series.
In 2006, The Detroit Tigers, after finishing a historically bad 2003 season with only 43 wins, won the AL Wild Card, beat the Yankees in the playoffs, saw a walk off homerun to win the AL Pennant, and advanced to the World Series.
In 2008, The Tampa Bay Rays won the AL Pennant after finishing in fourth or last in a division that included two teams that have some of the highest payrolls in the big leagues.
If you look at the trend more closely, you can notice that there isn't any NL teams here. That's not even the major point though. The point I want to make obvious is the seasons that have followed these surprise years.
In 2006, the White Sox were not bad, but they weren't great. They finished third in the AL Central and missed the playoffs after their World Series Championship year. The Sox then went on into the 2007 season hoping to get back to the post season, but instead finished three games out of last place. In 2008, the Sox picked up some small additions in the off-season, including Nick Swisher and Octavio Dotel, and won the AL Central again.
Let's now take a look at the Detroit Tigers. After being AL Champs in 2006, the Tigers played well in 2007, but not great, finishing, oh what a coincidence, in third place. In 2008, the Tigers were given the World Series Title in the offseason after picking up Jacque Jones (wasn't he a waste of money?), Edgar Renteria, Miguel Cabrera, and Dontrelle Willis. With their 137 million dollar payroll, the Tigers finished in last place in the AL Central.
If your seeing a trend, that's a good thing; it's actually my point of the article. If not, let me explain. The Tigers played copy cat to the White Sox. Both were surprises, then played ok, then played awful.
Now, compare the Tiger's offseason moves this year with the White Sox's moves last year. White Sox picked up some, not huge players, but good players. Hmm, so have the Tigers this off season with the additions of Edwin Jackson, Gerald Laird, and Adam Everett. If the trend continues this year, that's good news for Tigers' fans because that means an AL Central Championship is due up for the Tigers.
It's bad news, however, for the beloved Rays. Now, remember, just following the trend here, this sup-rise team will play well next season, but unfortunately finish in 3rd place in the AL East. Now, if you look closely at what the Yankees have done this off season, that 3rd place finish is a very real possibility.
In addition to following this whole trend, there is an AL team due for a surprise pennant race. In my opinion, watch out for the Texas Rangers. The AL West will be a toss up next year. The Angels will not be as good, the A's will be better, and I think the Rangers' pitching will be better. In that case, I think next year's surprise AL Champion will be the team from Texas, the Texas Rangers.
Just to say, this trend hasn't gone on long enough to actually guess the Tigers will be good again, and the Rangers will host the Fall Classic, but so far, since 2005, this trend has continued and I do believe that it will continue next season. So, with that, congratulations the 2009 AL Central Champions, the Detroit Tigers.