2013 American League Predictions

Predictions from BA staff, written by Jim Callis.

POSTSEASON CRYSTAL BALL

MVP: Evan Longoria, Rays

CY YOUNG AWARD: Justin Verlander, Tigers

WILD CARDS: Angels, Blue Jays

PENNANT WINNER: Tigers

 

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

1. TAMPA BAY RAYS

BEST-CASE SCENARIO: LHP Matt Moore makes the leap and Tampa Bay continues to ride pitching and defense, overcoming a deep division and its financial limitations to make its fourth playoff appearance in the last six years.

WORST-CASE SCENARIO: 3B Evan Longoria gets hurt again, OF Wil Myers isn’t quite ready for prime time and a lack of offense hamstrings the Rays just as it did in 2012.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON ACQUISITION: Myers.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON LOSS: RHP James Shields.

NEXT FIRST-TIME ALL-STAR: Moore.

 

2. TORONTO BLUE JAYS

BEST-CASE SCENARIO: The offseason acquisitions of LHP Mark Buehrle, OF Melky Cabrera, RHPs R.A. Dickey and Josh Johnson and SS Jose Reyes vault Toronto from fourth place in 2012 to first place in 2013.

anchor the best pitching staff in the division, resulting in another division title.

WORST-CASE SCENARIO: There are still too many holes on the pitching staff, and the Blue Jays become the latest team to discover that a bunch of flashy moves look better on paper than on the field.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON ACQUISITION: Reyes.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON LOSS: C Travis d’Arnaud.

NEXT FIRST-TIME ALL-STAR: DH/1B Edwin Encarnacion.

 

3. NEW YORK YANKEES

BEST-CASE SCENARIO: SS Derek Jeter and RHP Mariano Rivera return from injuries and continue to defy age, and LHP C.C. Sabathia and RHP Hiroki Kuroda anchor the best pitching staff in the division, resulting in another division title.

WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Age, injuries and surprising offseason frugality catch up to the Yankees, who miss the playoffs for just the second time in 19 seasons.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON ACQUISITION: 3B Kevin Youkilis

BIGGEST OFFSEASON LOSS: OF Nick Swisher.

NEXT FIRST-TIME ALL-STAR: Kuroda.

 

4. BALTIMORE ORIOLES

BEST-CASE SCENARIO: 3B Manny Machado and C Matt Wieters continue to get better, RHP Dylan Bundy bolsters the rotation and the O’s prove that last year’s success was not a fluke.

WORST-CASE SCENARIO: The bullpen regresses, as does the Orioles’ record in one-run (29-9) and extra-inning (16-2) games, and it turns out they played way over their heads in 2012.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON ACQUISITION: RHP Jair Jurrjens.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON LOSS: 1B Mark Reynolds.

NEXT FIRST-TIME ALL-STAR: Machado.

 

5. BOSTON RED SOX

BEST-CASE SCENARIO: The dismissal of manager Bobby Valentine and the arrival of RHPs Ryan Dempster and Joel Hanrahan, SS Stephen Drew, OFs Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino and 1B Mike Napoli enable Boston to jump back into contention after its epic collapse in 2012.

WORST-CASE SCENARIO: The Red Sox’s problems go beyond Valentine and can’t be solved by a flurry of short-term moves, dooming them to the basement again.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON ACQUISITION: Drew.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON LOSS: OF Cody Ross.

NEXT FIRST-TIME ALL-STAR: 3B Will Middlebrooks.

 

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

1. DETROIT TIGERS

BEST-CASE SCENARIO: 3B Miguel Cabrera, 1B Prince Fielder and RHP Justin Verlander keep doing what they do best, which is more than enough in a weak AL Central.

WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Detroit’s supporting cast doesn’t pull enough weight and the defense undermines the pitching staff. But really, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which the Tigers don’t win the division.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON ACQUISITION: OF Torii Hunter.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON LOSS: OF Delmon Young.

NEXT FIRST-TIME ALL-STAR: OF Austin Jackson.

 

2. CLEVELAND INDIANS

BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Offseason moves to add RHPs Trevor Bauer and Brett Myers, OF Michael Bourn and OF/1B Nick Swisher result in a surprise wild-card berth.

WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Cleveland ranked 22nd in scoring and 29th in runs allowed last year, leaving them too many holes to fill and destined for a sixth straight non-winning season.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON ACQUISITION: Bauer.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON LOSS: OF Shin-Soo Choo.

NEXT FIRST-TIME ALL-STAR: C Carlos Santana.

 

3. KANSAS CITY ROYALS

BEST-CASE SCENARIO: The signings of RHPs Jeremy Guthrie and Ervin Santana and a deal for RHPs Wade Davis and James Shields finally give Kansas City a solid rotation. The young lineup matures, and the Royals contend for the first time in a decade.

WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Only Shields comes through as a starter, 1B Eric Hosmer and 3B Mike Moustakas continue to scuffle and Kansas City finishes below .500 for the 19th time in 20 seasons.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON ACQUISITION: Shields.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON LOSS: OF Wil Myers.

NEXT FIRST-TIME ALL-STAR: OF Alex

Gordon.

 

4. CHICAGO WHITE SOX

BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Fielding a steady if unspectacular team without gaping holes, Chicago gets its first playoff berth since 2008.

WORST-CASE SCENARIO: The White Sox find it’s difficult to win without stars, and they don’t have any with the exception of LHP Chris Sale.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON ACQUISITION: 3B Jeff Keppinger.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON LOSS: C A.J. Pierzynski.

NEXT FIRST-TIME ALL-STAR: OF Dayan Viciedo.

 

5. MINNESOTA TWINS

BEST-CASE SCENARIO: RHPs J.O. Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Trevor May and Alex Meyer take positive steps forward in their development, giving Minnesota hope for a pitching staff it can build around in the future.

WORST-CASE SCENARIO: It’s all about young pitching for the Twins. If their mound prospects don’t work out, the big league club won’t contend anytime soon.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON ACQUISITION: Meyer.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON LOSS: OF Denard Span.

NEXT FIRST-TIME ALL-STAR: OF Josh Willingham.

 

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

1. TEXAS RANGERS

BEST-CASE SCENARIO: With the best combination of major and minor league talent in the AL, Texas again looks like the club that went to the 2010 and 2011 World Series and had the league’s best record through 153 games in 2012.

WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Yu Darvish doesn’t develop into the No. 1 starter the Rangers have paid him to be, the staff as a whole is just so-so and the free-agent defections of OF Josh Hamilton and C Mike Napoli take a toll on the offense.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON ACQUISITION: C A.J. Pierzynski.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON LOSS: Hamilton.

NEXT FIRST-TIME ALL-STAR: 2B/SS Jurickson Profar.

 

2. LOS ANGELES ANGELS

BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Taking OF Josh Hamilton from the Rangers, getting a full season from OF Mike Trout and filling out the rotation with RHPs Joe Blanton, Tommy Hanson and Jason Vargas adds up to L.A.’s first playoff trip since 2009.

WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Hamilton doesn’t adjust well to his new home, Trout’s added weight results in a sophomore slump and Blanton, Hanson and Vargas make the Angels long for Zack Greinke, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON ACQUISITION: Hamilton.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON LOSS: Greinke.

NEXT FIRST-TIME ALL-STAR: SS Erick Aybar.

 

3. OAKLAND ATHLETICS

BEST-CASE SCENARIO: LHP Brett Anderson stays healthy and makes Oakland’s pitching staff even more formidable, while OF Yoenis Cespedes blossoms into an MVP candidate.

WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Last year’s overachievers—RHP A.J. Griffin, LHP Tommy Milone, OF Josh Reddick among them—head in the opposite direction and the A’s don’t come close to matching their 2012 total of 94 victories.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON ACQUISITION: SS Hiroyuki Nakajima.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON LOSS: RHP Brandon McCarthy.

NEXT FIRST-TIME ALL-STAR: Cespedes.

 

4. SEATTLE MARINERS

BEST-CASE SCENARIO: 2B Dustin Ackley, C Jesus Montero and 1B Justin Smoak live up to their hype, Seattle has a respectable offense to team with its young and talented pitchers and the club tops .500 for the first time in four seasons.

WORST-CASE SCENARIO: The offense disap- points again, finishing last in the AL in scoring for the fifth straight year even after the Mariners moved in the fences at Safeco Field.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON ACQUISITION: DH Kendrys Morales.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON LOSS: RHP Jason Vargas.

NEXT FIRST-TIME ALL-STAR: Montero.

 

5. HOUSTON ASTROS

BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Houston hits a home run with the No. 1 overall pick in June and clinches the top pick in 2014.

WORST-CASE SCENARIO: The Astros chal- lenge the 2003 Tigers’ AL record of 119 losses.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON ACQUISITION: 1B/DH Chris Carter.

BIGGEST OFFSEASON LOSS: SS Jed Lowrie.

NEXT FIRST-TIME ALL-STAR: RHP Bud Norris.