2009 American League Predictions

Yeah, it’s a month into the season. And I don’t know anything about American League baseball. But what use is it being a guy with a blog if I can’t make proclamations about things I know nothing about?

American League East – Boston Red Sox
(Sarah: New York Yankees)

The AL East has three teams which will contend, both in the division and for the pennant. Tampa Bay proved it was the best team in the league last year, and they return all of their key players, a year older and wiser, plus a full year of David Price once they call him up. They have budding stars at multiple positions. They now have some playoff experience, and pretty much everybody is healthy. And I didn’t pick them.

I just like the Red Sox too much. They have the reigning AL MVP in Dustin Pedroia, and he isn’t the best hitter on the right side of the Red Sox infield. They have solid talent in the outfield, including a great low-risk/high-reward signing of Rocco Baldelli. [1] Their pitching is the key. Josh Beckett is great when he’s healthy, and Daisuke Matsuzaka was the second best pitcher in the AL last season. Jon Lester was the fourth best pitcher in the league last year, and most people don’t even think he’s reached his full potential yet.

I’m not picking the Yankees for the division, and I don’t think they will win the wild card either. I don’t like AJ Burnett, and Andy Pettitte is a year older. Mark Teixeira is a great signing, but they are still saddled with a bunch of aging former stars, including the worst defensive shortstop in all of baseball (maybe you’ve heard of him).

American League Central – Minnesota Twins
(Sarah: Cleveland Indians)

This post only gets worse from here. I really have no idea what I’m talking about. But, for you, I’ll forge on.

I picked the Twins for two reasons. 1. I like Ron Gardenhire. Every year he seems to have nothing to work with, and then he wins the division. I really don’t know how he does it. 2. At least looking at the numbers, they have a young and deep rotation. I honestly don’t think the Twins are great, but I don’t think the rest of the division is great either.

The Indians and the Tigers both seem to have tons of talent, but not be able to pull it together. But I think really it comes down to pitching. Outside of Cliff Lee, who completely lost his mind last year and decided to be amazing, the Indians didn’t really pitch well. Nobody else pitched more than 130 innings, and nobody else was better than league average. The Tigers had fewer people shuffle through their rotation, but none of them were very good. Justin Verlander and Nate Robertson really struggled last year, and without those guys they aren’t going to win games.

I couldn’t  in good conscience pick the Royals, because, well, they are the Royals. However, it is worth going over how ridiculously good Zack Greinke has been this year. 6 starts, 45 IP, 3 CG, 2 shutouts, 54 K, 8 BB, and to top it off, an ERA+ of 1156. That is not a typo. Also, Zack is his middle name. His real name is Donald. NOW YOU KNOW.

The White Sox won the division last year, and they have essentially the same team. But they are so boring. Too many words on them already.

American League West – Oakland Athletics
(Sarah: Seattle Mariners)

Los Angeles got a whole lot worse, losing Francisco Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. Statistically, they overperformed by a ton. Their Pythagorean record last year was 88-74, but they somehow managed to win 100 games. The Red Sox proved they weren’t as good as their record by swiftly ending their season in the first round.

Seattle was terrible last year, and they won’t be any better.

The Rangers never seem to have any pitching. A good rule of thumb: If Kris Benson is in your rotation, you are a bad team.

That leaves Oakland. This is the smallest division in baseball, as well as one of the weakest. Oakland made a few moves to supplement their young players, bringing back Jason Giambi and bringing in Orlando Cabrera and Matt Holliday. Two fifths of their rotation is younger than I am. If a few of them do well, I think they win this division. Billy Beane has showed his hand a bit, bringing in Matt Holliday while knowing he can’t resign him. If they are in the hunt in July, I wouldn’t be suprised if they made a move to enable them to make a run this year.

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