MLB – American League 2012 Season Preview

06 Apr

Each season in the American League, the question is which big-money club, the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox, will make it to the World Series. But this season, the signings of Albert Pujols by the Los Angeles Angels, and Prince Fielder by the Detroit Tigers, have catapaulted those two teams to the top of the favorites list in the AL. Both of those teams were solid to begin with, and both have experienced, savvy managers in Mike Sciosca of the Angels, and Jim Leyland of the Tigers. There’s no doubt that the Angels are odds-on favorites to win the AL West, with their biggest competition coming from the two-time defending AL champion Texas Rangers. The Rangers defied the odds to make it to the World Series for the second year in a row last season, so they can’t be counted out, but the addition of Pujols to the Angels makes them the team to beat in the division. Seattle and Oakland, who opened the regular season with a series in Japan, will battle each other to stay out of the division cellar.

Leyland’s Tigers were already the class of the AL Central before they brought in Fielder, so they have to be favored to win the division again. The Cleveland Indians could be a surprise contender if some of their young players continue to develop. They have an emerging starting rotation and a solid bullpen, and with young stars like Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana, look like they should surpass the Chicago White Sox as the Tigers’ main competition. The Chisox still have a good team, but I’m not sold on the team’s new manager, Robin Ventura, who takes the job with no prior managing experience. The Minnesota Twins always seem to find a way to be competitive, but I see them struggling to stay ahead of Kansas City in the division.

In the AL East, the New York Yankees are the favorites in my eyes, mostly because I’ve never been a big fan of their main rival’s new manager, Boston’s Bobby Valentine. Although the Red Sox are considered a contender, I see them possibly finishing in the division basement. The Toronto Blue Jays are an up-and-coming group, and I have more faith that Buck Showalter can revive the Baltimore Orioles into a contender than I do that Valentine can lead Boston to the promised land. Then there are manager Joe Maddon’s Tampa Bay Rays, who look like the Yanks’ main competition. It’s hard to believe but the Yanks are going into the season without much fanfare, and I think that makes them dangerous. They certainly are capable of winnig it all, but I don’t see them beating out either the Angels or Tigers when all is said and done.

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