With the start of a new season comes new expectations. Every team starts the year tied for first, and every team thinks this could be their year. As we all know, only one team is left standing in the end, but which team will it be? Predicting the American League and National League playoff teams can be a chore at times, especially in the NL where there are so many loaded teams. But I’m going to give it my best shot. First, here are my American League predictions
- Baltimore Orioles- Tons of power, spectacular defense, and a loaded bullpen make up for a mediocre rotation and put the Orioles back in the playoffs in 2016.
- Toronto Blue Jays- The most dangerous middle of the order in baseball combines with a steady rotation to put the Blue Jays in the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
- New York Yankees- A three-headed monster in the back-end of the bullpen will shorten games for the Yankees and keep them in the race all year.
- Boston Red Sox- Young talent mixed with veteran leadership will keep the Sox relevant into August, but they will taper off and miss the postseason for the fifth time in six years.
- Tampa Bay Rays- The best rotation in the division can’t make up for a lackluster bullpen and no offensive punch. The Rays will have their worst season since 2007.
- Detroit Tigers-The Tigers have gotten tired of looking up in the standings and will reclaim the throne. They’ve shored up their rotation, strengthened their bullpen, and added firepower to an already potent lineup.
- Kansas City Royals- Ian Kennedy doesn’t add enough to this rotation, but the Royals’ throwback brand of baseball takes them back to the playoffs as a Wild Card.
- Cleveland Indians- There’s a bunch of talent on this team, from Francisco Lindor to Jason Kipnis to Michael Brantley. Add the veteran leadership of Juan Uribe and Mike Napoli, plus possibly the best rotation in the American League, and the Indians could be a sleeper pick this season.
- Chicago White Sox- The “South Siders” have a nice mix of power and speed in the lineup and a rotation that won’t wow you but won’t destroy you either. Unfortunately, it won’t be enough in a reloaded AL Central.
- Minnesota Twins- The Twins were a nice story last year, winning 83 games for rookie manager Paul Molitor. Still, this team lacks any real threats in the rotation and still looks to be a year or two away, even with the likes of Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano.
- Houston Astros- A strong rotation, a powerful lineup that hit 230 home runs last season, and a bullpen that doesn’t really have a weak link continues the resurgence of the Astros. This team is very young and could be good for a long time.
- Texas Rangers- Once Yu Darvish returns in mid-May, this rotation could take off. The Rangers will make a late Wild Card push but fall just short.
- Seattle Mariners- Robinson Cano is back to his old tricks, and the change of scenery for Leonys Martin could be what this team needs to get back to respectability. Their rotation will keep Seattle in the mix, and could make this team a dark horse candidate.
- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim- Albert Pujols and Mike Trout combined for 81 HR and 185 RBI last season. They’ll need a repeat performance because the rest of the lineup scares nobody. C.J. Wilson is on the DL and Jered Weaver‘s fastball topped out in the upper 70s. After Garrett Richards, they don’t have much.
- Oakland Athletics-Solid outfield; no-name infield. Sonny Gray is a stud, but that’s all the rotation has going for it. The A’s are cellar-dwellers yet again.
Dark horse candidate: J.D. Martinez-DET
AL Cy Young
Dark horse: Chris Archer-TB
AL Rookie of the Year
- Byron Buxton – MIN
- Joey Gallo – TEX
- Byung Ho Park – MIN
Dark horse: Blake Snell – TB
AL Comeback Player of the Year
Dark horse: Alex Cobb-TB
Wild Card: Toronto Blue Jays d. Kansas City Royals
ALDS: Astros d. Blue Jays, Tigers d. Orioles
ALCS: Astros d. Tigers
My World Series picks will be unveiled in the National League portion to follow.