American League 2017 Prediction

Posted: April 3, 2017 in Uncategorized

A.L. East

First – Boston.

Why?  Lots of killer B’s, that’s why.  Betts, Bogaerts, Bradley, Benintendi.  Talent plus, especially if Mr. Benintendi has a stellar second year.  The Red Sox have the youngest, most productive outfield in the A.L.  If, a big if, Pablo Sandoval returns to baseball form (not necessarily physical form.  This man loves his food) coupled with Hanley Ramirez finally maturing as a player (DH mostly), the Red Sox could put 6+ runs on the board at least twice a week.  Dustin Pedroia is bound for Red Sox lore.  Mitch Moreland returns to full-time play splitting his time between first and DH-ing for Hanley.  Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez will share the catching duties.  Blake Swihart and Dan Butler will receive time behind the plate as the season unfolds.  Chris Young and Steve Selsky are the fourth and fifth outfielders while Brock Holt and Marco Hernandez support the infield.

David Price on the d.l. is less than ideal.  Same with Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg.  An area of immediate concern, no doubt.  However, the acquisition of Chris Sale to accompany Rick Porcello, Steven Wright, Eduardo Rodriguez (he could injure himself stepping into a car) and Drew Pomeranz are an above average starting staff.  Craig Kimbrel , Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes, Robbie Ross and Heath Hembree are the pillars of the bullpen, though more depth will be immediate upon the return of Mr. Smith and Mr. Thornburg.

Second – Baltimore.

Why?  Because of their bullpen.  Zach Britton is the best closer in baseball.  Donnie Hart, Darren O’Day and Brad Brach are slightly less outstanding than Mr. Britton.  As for the starters (Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Wade Miley and Ubaldo Jimenez), they need to get to 5 and 1/3, then hand the ball to a reliever.

Mark Trumbo, Adam Jones, Manny Machado, Chris Davis, Jonathan Schoop and Seth Smith provide plenty of offensive punch.  O’s fans can look forward to the same run scoring circus of 2016.  However, any significant injury will result will not be easily solved from within the Baltimore minor league system given the barren nature of developing everyday players.

Third – Tampa Bay.

Candidly, the last three spots in the A.L. East are a toss up.  I’m listing Tampa in front of Toronto and New York because of their starting pitching.  If Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Matt Andriese and Alex Cobb (whose last full year was 2014) can pitch to ability, the Rays can finish third.  If not, who knows?  The ‘pen is solid.  Alex Colome closes. Xavier Cedeno, Danny Farquhar, Erasmo Ramirez and Chase Whitley are almost as impressive as Baltimore’s bullpen.

When hitting the baseball, if Evan Longoria gets consistent help from Steve Souza, Kevin Kiermaier, Corey Dickerson (who should start in left, not Colby Rasmus) and Logan Morrison, life is hopeful for the citizens of Tampa Bay who watch baseball in a circus tent.  Please build a real baseball stadium.  Please.

Fourth – NYY.

Joe Girardi is the best manager in baseball.  I realize a great deal of time has passed since the Yankees have made the playoffs, but what Mr. Girardi does with the little provided him is impressive.

N.Y. has a fine defensive outfield featuring Billy Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Rob Refsnyder (who will take Aaron Judge’s and or Aaron Hick’s place in right as the year progresses).  Matt Holiday at the age of 37 and feeling each day of those 37 years will be best served as the DH with no appearances in left.  Greg Bird and Didi Gregorius will highlight an uneven infield.  Chase Headley and Starlin Castro do not create much confidence.  Gary Sanchez seems to be the real deal behind the plate.

Starting pitching looks spotty after Masahiro Tanaka.  C.C. Sabathia is entering Jered Weaver territory.  Look forward to a breaking ball in the low 70s.  Michael Pineda is a mystery.  Talent never realized.  Luis Severino struggles in the Bronx, but I find his ability substantial.  Perhaps a trade would help.  Chad Green was my number one rated starting pitcher in the Yankees’ system.  Aroldis Chapman returns as the closer.  Dellin Betances and Tommy Layne are the most talented of the remaining relievers.  Adam Warren is a human rain delay.

Toronto – Fifth.

A sub par outfield in the persons of Ezequiel Carrera, Kevin Pillar and Jose “Nobody Loves Me” Bautista.  Is Troy Tulowitzki feeling his age?  Justin Smoak at first is a head scratcher.  I’m guessing the Jays are biding time until Rowdy Tellez is ready.  Josh Donaldson will provide the bulk of offensive fire power.  Devon Travis is seeking quality consecutive years.  He is a potential All-Star.

Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ are the top two starters.  Aaron Sanchez has talent, but needs a full year to prove himself.  Francisco Liriano and the overrated Marcus Stroman complete an average starting staff.  Roberto Osuna and Jason Grilli will handle the closing and set-up roles.  Joe Smith, Joe Biagini and Ryan Tepera will get the bulk of relief  innings.

A.L. Central

First – Cleveland.

Perhaps the most offensively productive infield in the A.L.  Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor (a bright, bright future), Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana love to hit and hit well.  A healthy Michael Brantley makes a good team better.  Tyler Naquin and Brandon Guyer (he will sit when Lonnie Chisenhall returns) complete the outfield.  The catching is somewhat suspect.  Yan Gomez and Roberto Perez can’t hit their weight, but owning a pitching staffs’ confidence is worth the lack of production.  Edwin Encarnacion makes for more runs.

Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco (he’s better than Mr. Kluber) and Josh Tomlinson provide role models for Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer.  A talented bullpen led by Cody Allen makes for confidence.  Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw, Boone Logan and Dan Otero are top notch.

Second – Kansas City.

A distant second if the starting pitching fails.  A close second if the starting pitching clicks.  Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy and Jason Hammel either reach last year’s numbers or the wheels fall off.  Jason Vargas missed most of the last two years.  This year, we shall see.  Kelvin Herrera closes and closes well.  Joakim Soria had a sub par 2016.  Matt Strahm and Mike Minor each had an impressive 2016.  Travis Wood probably leaves the bullpen to become the fifth starter.

Alex Gordon is overrated.  Jorge Soler as well.  Lorenzo Cain is the anchor.  Paulo Orlando should assume right field duties once Mr. Soler is identified as unproductive.  Speaking of overrated, I give you the K.C. infield.  Mike Moustakas and Raul Mondesi are inconsistent.  Alcides Escobar needs his offensive numbers to approach his defensive ability.  Eric Hosmer is the real deal.  Brandon Moss as DH doesn’t tickle me.

Third – Detroit.

Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez, Nick Castellanos, Victor Martinez and Ian Kinsler drive the offense.

Justin Verlander leads a “meh” starting staff.  Mike Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann and Daniel Norris need to pitch in (oh, evil pun!) or else the Tigers will finish fourth.  Frankie Rodriguez, Bruce Rondon, Alex Wilson and Kyle Ryan are looking for help in the bullpen.

Fourth – White Sox.

Jose Abreu toils away in obscurity (in Chicago?  Yep.  The White Sox are that bad).  Omar Narvaez is a quality catcher.  Todd Frazier, a nice guy, strikes out far too often, but the White Sox need his run production.  Signing Tim Anderson to a long-term deal was dumb.  Mr. Anderson has a long journey to establish himself as a shortstop who can field and hit.

Jose Quintana and Miguel Gonzalez lead a suspect starting staff.  David Robertson and Nate Jones are a quality late inning duo.  Michael Ynoa is the best of the rest in the bullpen.

Fifth – Minnesota.

A young outfield may be ready to blossom.  Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler should each receive 500 at bats this year.  The proof waits.  Jose Polanco and Brian Dozier form a solid defensive middle and they can hit.  The catching is anemic.  Jason Castro, Chris Gimenez and John Ryan Murphy are a collective shoulder shrug.

Erwin Santana is the only starting pitcher of note.  Brandon Kintzler will close given Glenn Perkins affection for long-term injury.  Ryan O’Rourke (if healthy) and Matt Belisle are the best of a shallow bullpen.

A.L. West

First – Seattle.

Yep.  Seattle.  Jarrod Dyson improves the outfield.  Guillermo Heredia will take Mitch Haniger’s spot in right as the year progresses.  Kyle Seager, Jean Segura, Robinson Cano and Danny Valencia are the equivalent of Cleveland’s infield.  Lots and lots of hits and runs.  And that’s without the numbers generated by Nelson Cruz.  Carlos Ruiz eventually becomes the starting catcher.

Felix Hernandez will have a better 2017, i.e., normal year as compared to last year (strictly an anomaly).  Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton and Drew Smyly need to post better numbers than last year.  The bullpen receives no media buzz, but Edwin Diaz, Dan Altavilla, Nick Vincent and Steven Cishek are a quality group.  Plus, Seattle’s reliever development is quality.  Andrew Kittredge and Steve Johnson await the call to Seattle.

Second – Houston.

Any Seattle stumble, the Astros finish first.  Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer form an impressive middle.  Norichika Akoi is the best unknown left fielder in baseball.  Carlos Beltran continues to produce in the DH spot.  Keep him off the field otherwise.  Brian McCann and Evan Gattis may set a record for most home runs by a catching platoon.

Dallas Keuchel needs company.  Lance McCullers, Charlie Morton, Mike Fiers and Colin McHugh were ineffective last year.  Joseph Musgrove will receive his fist extended chance as a starter.  This young man has a load of potential.  Ken Giles doesn’t thrill me as a closer.  I’m sure that keeps him up at night.  Will Harris, Luke Gregerson and/or Chris Devenski serve as potential replacements.  Mike Feliz, James Hoyt and Jandel Gustave complete a deep bullpen.

Third – Los Angeles of Anaheim of Southern California.

Mike Trout, Mike Trout, Mike Trout.  Please watch Mike Trout.  He is awesome.  And, no, I’m not an Angels’ fan.  Cameron Maybin puts a stop to 2016’s Rent A Left Fielder approach.  Kole Calhoun keeps getting better with each passing year.  People complain about Albert Pujols, but he drove in runs and hit the ball over the fence.  No bitchin’.  Andrelton Simmons may become a complete shortstop.  The second half of last year, he put the ball in play and reduced his strikeouts.  Yunel Escobar had a quality year.  Luis Valbuena and C.J. Cron form a one-two punch at first, but C.J. eventually takes the job.

What determines the Angels’ 2017 is the starting pitching which was decimated in 2016.  If Garrett Richard, Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano are healthy, the Angels make the playoffs.  If not, another long year awaits.  Huston Street either closes or is replaced by Cam Bedrosian.  The rest of the ‘pen is suspect.  Not good.  The Angels may well find themselves on the wrong side of 6-5, 5-4 and 4-3.

Fourth – Texas.

Nomar Mazara meets his second year.  What will happen?  Jurickson Profar and Carlos Gomez provide little offensive punch.  But, wait!  Adrian Beltre (yes, he is a HOFer), Elvis Andrus, Rougned Odor, Mike Napoli and Jonathan Lucroy will rip the cover off the ball.  Speaking of Mr. Lucroy, if Shin Soo Choo offers average DH numbers, look for Mr. Lucroy to assume the DH role and Brett Nicholas to assume the catching duties.

Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels lead an anemic group of starters.  Thankfully, the bullpen is above average.  Lots and lots of innings will be required of Sam Dyson, Jeremy Jeffress, Alex Claudio, Tony Barnette, Tanner Scheppers and Matt Bush.

Fifth – Oakland.

A truly awful offense less Khris Davis.  Truly.  I have nothing.  As do the A’s.

Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton (tremendous potential) highlight a dim starting staff.  Sonny Gray starting the year on the d.l. is an indicator of the pain A’s fans will endure.  Santiago Casilla will bump Ryan Madson from the closer role.  Sean Doolittle, Ryan Dull and Liam Hendricks will each receive in excess of 70 innings pitched during 2017.

 

 

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