AL Preview: Can The Royals Do It Again?

The BA staff previews the American League, looking at team scenarios, best pickups, biggest losses and breakthrough players.


Boston Red Sox


Best-Case Scenario: The talented young duo of Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts leads the way, Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval return to pre-2015 form, David Price anchors the rotation and the Red Sox get breakouts from young Jackie Bradley, Eduardo Rodriguez, Blake Swihart and Henry Owens in engineering another worst-to-first turnaround.

Worst-Case Scenario: Sandoval and Ramirez flop again, Rick Porcello posts another ERA near 5.00 and the rotation behind Price combusts, leaving Boston closer to the AL East cellar.

Biggest Offseason Acquisitions: LHP David Price, RHP Craig Kimbrel, RHP Carson Smith, LHP Roenis Elias

Biggest Offseason Losses: LHP Rich Hill, LHP Wade Miley, RHP Alexi Ogando

Next First-Time All-Star: OF Mookie Betts

Wild card
Indians, Rangers
Red Sox
World Series
Cubs over Red Sox
Cy Young
David Price, Red Sox
Mike Trout, Angels

Toronto Blue Jays


Best-Case Scenario: Baseball’s best offense last year (by 127 runs!) returns with a full season of Troy Tulowitzki to carry the Blue Jays to another AL East title.

Worst-Case Scenario: Injuries take a toll on a lineup dependent on players (Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion) past 30, while the pitching staff produces mediocre results without David Price at the top of the rotation and little help on the way from the farm.

Biggest Offseason Acquisitions: LHP J.A. Happ, OF Ben Revere, RHP Drew Storen

Biggest Offseason Losses: LHP Mark Buehrle, LHP David Price, OF Ben Revere

Next First-Time All-Star: RHP Marcus Stroman

New York Yankees


Best-Case Scenario: Luis Severino steps up as a frontline starter, Nathan Eovaldi has a breakthrough season and the Aroldis Chapman/Andrew Miller/Dellin Betances nightmare bullpen shortens games for the Yankees to win the AL East.

Worst-Case Scenario: A lineup full of players in their 30s experiences several late-career drop-offs, Masahiro Tanaka can’t replicate his 2015 season and the Yankees miss the playoffs again in a competitive division.

Biggest Offseason Acquisitions: LHP Aroldis Chapman, SS/2B Starlin Castro, OF Aaron Hicks

Biggest Offseason Losses: C John Ryan Murphy, RHP Adam Warren, LHP Justin Wilson

Next First-Time All-Star: Severino.

Tampa Bay Rays


Best-Case Scenario: The Rays play brilliant defense, Blake Snell gives the rotation a boost behind Chris Archer and a resurgent Matt Moore and Tampa Bay gets back to the playoffs behind the strength of its run prevention.

Worst-Case Scenario: A lineup that ranked 25th in runs scored a year ago scuffles again, keeping the Rays below .500 for the third straight season.

Biggest Offseason Acquisitions: C Hank Conger, OF Corey Dickerson, SS Brad Miller, 1B Logan Morrison

Biggest Offseason Losses: SS Asdrubal Cabrera, RHP Nathan Karns, LHP Jake McGee

Next First-Time All-Star: OF Kevin Kiermaier

Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles

Best-Case Scenario: The Orioles get a full season of Matt Wieters back to join a powerful offense with Manny Machado, Chris Davis and Adam Jones that’s good enough to carry a staff of mid-rotation starters at best with support from a strong bullpen.

Worst-Case Scenario: The starting pitching implodes, with no frontline arms and a rotation that pitches like a group of fourth and fifth starters.

Biggest Offseason Acquisitions: RHP Odrisamer Despaigne, OF Hyun Soo Kim, 1B/OF Mark Trumbo, RHP Yovani Gallardo

Biggest Offseason Losses: LHP Wei-Yin Chen, OF Gerardo Parra, OF/1B Steve Pearce

Next First-Time All-Star: RHP Kevin Gausman

American League Central

Kansas City Royals


Best-Case Scenario: Royals fans’ two years of living the impossible dream moves into year three, as re-signed free agent Alex Gordon helps lead the defending champs to back-to-back championships.

Worst-Case Scenario: The Royals’ devastating bullpen becomes simply good, the Ian Kennedy signing backfires as the rotation falters, dropping the Royals back to the pack in the AL Central.

Biggest Offseason Acquisitions: RHP Ian Kennedy, LHP Mike Minor, RHP Joakim Soria

Biggest Offseason Losses: RHP Johnny Cueto, RHP Greg Holland, 2B Ben Zobrist

Next First-Time All-Star: 1B Eric Hosmer

Cleveland Indians


Best-Case Scenario: Francisco Lindor plays like an MVP while an excellent young staff of starting pitchers help deliver the team’s first AL Central title since 2007.

Worst-Case Scenario: Offseason shoulder surgery eats into Michael Brantley’s productivity and the lineup as a whole struggles, leaving the Indians in the middle of the pack yet again.

Biggest Offseason Acquisitions: RHP Joba Chamberlain, OF Rajai Davis, 1B Mike Napoli

Biggest Offseason Losses: OF Ryan Raburn, RHP Ryan Webb

Next First-Time All-Star: SS Francisco Lindor

Detroit Tigers


Best-Case Scenario: The addition of Justin Upton boosts an already formidable lineup, Justin Verlander returns to ace form and a remodeled bullpen helps the Tigers get back to competing for a playoff spot.

Worst-Case Scenario: No more David Price, Verlander continues his slide from ace to mid-rotation starter and another bloated ERA from Anibal Sanchez leaves the pitching staff hurting, and the Tigers again rank toward the bottom of the league in preventing runs for another dismal finish.

Biggest Offseason Acquisitions: OFs Cameron Maybin and Justin Upton, RHPs Francisco Rodriguez and Jordan Zimmermann

Biggest Offseason Losses: C/1B Alex Avila, OF Rajai Davis, LHP Ian Krol

Next First-Time All-Star: LHP Daniel Norris

Minnesota Twins


Best-Case Scenario: The Twins’ youth movement pays even bigger dividends in 2016 as the steadily-improving lineup carries Minnesota to its first playoff berth since 2010.

Worst-Case Scenario: Center fielder Byron Buxton needs more time in the minors, Miguel Sano struggles defensively in right, and the pitching staff stumbles as the Twins regress slightly.

Biggest Offseason Acquisitions: 1B Byung Ho Park, C John Ryan Murphy

Biggest Offseason Losses: OF Torii Hunter, OF Aaron Hicks, RHP Mike Pelfrey

Next First-Time All-Star: OF/DH Miguel Sano

Chicago White Sox


Best-Case Scenario: A dramatically revamped infield fixes what’s been a poor lineup for years, and Carlos Rodon gives the Good Guys a second ace to team with Chris Sale.

Worst-Case Scenario: The White Sox find that once again they are simply outgunned offensively, and a mediocre bullpen and shaky back-half of the rotation leads to a fourth-consecutive losing record.

Biggest Offseason Acquisitions: 3B Todd Frazier, 2B/3B Brett Lawrie, SS Jimmy Rollins

Biggest Offseason Losses: C Tyler Flowers, SS Alexei Ramirez, RHP Jeff Samardzija

Next First-Time All-Star: LHP Carlos Rodon

American League West

Houston Astros


Best-Case Scenario: An athletic lineup plays on both sides of the ball, Lance McCullers breaks through as co-ace to Dallas Keuchel, and Ken Giles locks down the closer role as Houston wins its first division title since 2001.

Worst-Case Scenario: Hitters start catching up to Keuchel and Collin McHugh, Houston can’t solve its first-base hole, and a high-strikeout, young offense comes up just short of a playoff spot.

Biggest Offseason Acquisitions: RHPs Doug Fister, Ken Giles

Biggest Offseason Losses: 1B Chris Carter, SS/3B Jed Lowrie, SS Jonathan Villar

Next First-Time All-Star: SS Carlos Correa

Texas Rangers


Best-Case Scenario: After winning the division with a banged-up club in 2015, the return of Yu Darvish and a full season of Cole Hamels gets the Rangers to 90-plus wins again in 2016.

Worst-Case Scenario: Adrian Beltre starts playing like a 37-year-old, Prince Fielder’s injury issues flare up and Texas’ solid depth isn’t enough to stay competitive in a tough division.

Biggest Offseason Acquisitions: RHP Tom Wilhelmsen, OF Justin Ruggiano, 1B/3B Patrick Kivlehan

Biggest Offseason Losses: RHP Yovani Gallardo, 1B Mike Napoli

Next First-Time All-Star: 2B Rougned Odor

Los Angeles Angels


Best-Case Scenario: The best player in the game is able to carry a somewhat wheezing Angels’ roster back to the playoffs along with improved depth in the rotation.

Worst-Case Scenario: The lineup proved to be too thin to support Mike Trout, and the club’s avoidance of the luxury tax and the thin farm system hamstrings new GM Billy Eppler from fixing the problems in the middle of the season.

Biggest Offseason Acquisitions: 3B Yunel Escobar, OF Daniel Nava, SS Andrelton Simmons

Biggest Offseason Losses: SS Erick Aybar, 3B David Freese, C Chris Iannetta

Next First-Time All-Star: RHP Garrett Richards

Seattle Mariners


Best-Case Scenario: Progress. It’s hard to see the Mariners catching the Rangers or Astros, but for a team with three winning records in the past 12 seasons, 85 wins is a realistic goal.

Worst-Case Scenario: A fragile rotation (Hisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton) spends a lot of time on the disabled list and an aged lineup (six hitters are 32 or older) falters.

Biggest Offseason Acquisitions OF Nori Aoki, RHP Nate Karns, 1B Adam Lind, LHP Wade Miley.

Biggest Offseason Losses: SS Brad Miller, 1B Logan Morrison, RHP Carson Smith, 1B/OF Mark Trumbo.

Next First-Time All-Star: SS Ketel Marte.

Oakland Athletics


Best-Case Scenario: The A’s fix their bullpen problems and avoid the bad luck that doomed them to an awful start in 2015, allowing them to pitch their way into the AL West race.

Worst-Case Scenario: Outgunned offensively by AL West teams with more young talent and much more firepower, the A’s find 2015’s fall to the cellar is part of a long-term trend.

Biggest Offseason Acquisitions: 1B Yonder Alonso, OF Khris Davis, LHP Rich Hill, Chris Coghlan

Biggest Offseason Losses: RHP Jesse Chavez, 3B Brett Lawrie, LHP Drew Pomeranz, Aaron Brooks

Next First-Time All-Star: OF Josh Reddick


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