2013 MLB Over/Under Predictions – American League
Here is the American League portion of predictions for the 2013 baseball season. Just like how I broke down the National League, I will be breaking down each team based on their over/under line given to them by the Atlantis Casino in Reno, Nevada.
Here are my American League predictions.
Baltimore Orioles: 76½
It's hard to expect the Orioles to have anywhere close to as successful a season as they had in 2012 (93-69), even with Buck Showalter at the helm. The Orioles were one of the surprise teams last season. A lot of the credit has to be given to the lineup they put on the field, the surprisingly good pitching staff and near-flawless defense. For a majority of the second half, the O's had the best fielding percentage and fewest errors in the American League. Will Nate McLouth be able to provide as much as he did when the Orioles caught lightning in a bottle with him in the middle of last season? Will their pitching be able to step up in the strongest division in baseball? I don't have any expectations of them returning to the playoffs this year, but I think the line is a tad low. I'm taking the over. 79 wins.
Boston Red Sox: 79½
There are so many question marks with this year's Red Sox team. They have yet another new manager after the failed Bobby Valentine experiment last year (which I thought would benefit the team). They made a bunch of questionable signings, most notably being Mike Napoli. I happen to like Napoli as a player, but after it had been originally reported that he signed a three-year contract worth $39 million, the negotiations halted after his physical for over a month before he signed for one year and $5 million. What could have possibly gone so wrong in that one month? I don't see the pitching staff turning it around and the lineup is filled with question marks. Along with Napoli, they signed shortstop Stephen Drew, along with Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes. I can't set my expectations too high for this team. I'm going with the under. 76 wins.
Chicago White Sox: 80½
The White Sox will be a very good team this year. I'm expecting them to stay in the hunt for a wild card spot throughout the season. It should be interesting to see if ace Chris Sale will suffer the Cole Hamels effect this year and fall back to earth as a starter after throwing 192 innings in 2012, his first season as their starter. We've seen it happen before where the year after a huge increase in workload, velocity drops and more curveballs tend to hang. Still, the 2-5 spots in the rotation will win games. The lineup looks like it's going to be productive. I really like the addition of Jeff Keppinger. He should help move along a rather one-dimension, power hitting lineup. I'm taking the over. 86 wins.
Cleveland Indians: 77½
I'm not sure why the Indians line is so low. I love the moves they made this offseason. Trevor Bauer should compliment an already vastly underrated rotation (besides Ubaldo Jimenez, he will be awful again). Nick Swisher, Mark Reynolds, and Drew Stubbs will fit in well with Asdrubal Cabrera, Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana. With Terry Francona, I have a feeling a lot of things will fall the Indians' way this year. Everyone is pretty much already handing the division over to the Detroit Tigers, including myself. But with the Twins continuing to be awful and the Royals still a few players away from serious contention, I think the Indians and White Sox will fight it out for second place, and potentially a wild card spot in the playoffs. I'm very high on the Indians and I'm taking the over. 84 wins.
Detroit Tigers: 90
Before the Tigers were playing in the World Series last year, they were widely regarded as the strongest team on paper in all of baseball. They had superb pitching and a complete, multidimensional lineup. They got off to a somewhat mediocre start, only to turn it on in the second half. The one major upgrade the Tigers made was signing Torii Hunter to play the outfield and parting ways with Delmon Young. Clutch-hitting Victor Martinez is also making his way back after missing the entire 2012 campaign. Offensively, the Tigers barely missed a beat last year, but adding a career .303 back into the middle of the order certainly won't hurt anyone. As far as pitching is concerned, they're fine. Verlander and Scherzer are coming off a season where they finished 1 and 2 in the game in strikeouts, and Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez proved they can get the big out when it matters. I'm taking the over. 95 wins.
Houston Astros: 59½
Poor Houston. They're currently going through one of the most pathetic periods in franchise history and this is the year they start competing in the American League. The American League West to be exact, the same division as the Rangers, Angels, A's and Mariners. All of which are far better than Houston. Yes, even Seattle. After losing 107 games last year, they attempted to make a splash this winter by signing slugger Carlos Pena. By the middle of Spring Training, the Astros were already reportedly making phone calls to other teams informing them that anyone was available for a prospect or two. It should be a long, depressing season in Houston. I'm taking the under. 48 wins.
Kansas City Royals: 79
The Royals overhauled their rotation this offseason by bringing in James Shields, Wade Davis and Ervin Santana, moving Jeremy Guthrie down to the number 3 or 4 spot. Their lineup is powerful, but has lot of potential for strikeouts. Eric Hosmer and Jeff Francoeur are both strong comeback candidates after abysmal 2012 campaigns. The bullpen is one of the youngest and hardest throwing in baseball, but that often means there's a lot of room for improvement as far as control is concerned. I think the Royals are headed in the right direction, but this isn't going to be a 2008 Rays-esque year for them. (In 2008, the Rays shocked the world and shot from 66 wins to 97 wins in one season.) I see them getting better gradually, starting this season by finishing at .500. I'm taking the over. 81 wins.
Los Angeles Angels: 89½
I know it's easy to love the Angels on paper. Look at that lineup. At full strength, the opposing pitcher is looking at Mike Trout, Erick Aybar, Pujols, Hamilton, Mark Trumbo, Howie Kendrick, Alberto Callaspo, Chris Iannetta, and Peter Bourjos. You can basically throw the names into a hat and pick them out and random and still get amazing production. The question is their pitching. After Weaver, it's all question marks. I don't think CJ Wilson is a true number 2 starter. Joe Blanton, Jason Vargas and Tommy Hanson round out a rotation that is very mediocre, but their bullpen will be a strength. Despite the troubles I'm expecting from the rotation, I think the frighteningly good offense will cover up a lot of mistakes. I'm taking the over. 93 wins.
Minnesota Twins: 64½
It's going to be a long season in Minnesota. They're most likely going to deal Justin Morneau to a contender by the trade deadline, and there's a chance they could deal the underrated Josh Willingham as well if a good enough package is offered. When you're depending on Vance Worley, Mike Pelfrey and Kevin Correia to lead your rotation, there will be problems. This is one of the more obvious lines to me. I'm taking the under. 62 wins.
New York Yankees: 86½
I love the pitching staff. Their rotation figures to be one of the strongest in the league and the bullpen will be pitching at its top potential with Mariano Rivera back to close out games. The questions start with the lineup. With injuries to Granderson, Jeter, and Teixeira, has-beens like Travis Hafner, Ben Fransisco and Lyle Overbay will be playing a pivotal part in trying to score runs. If all goes as planned, Jeter's injury should not sideline him for too long. While Teixeira figures to miss a majority of the season, Curtis Granderson should be returning my mid-May or early-June. If you look at that like a midseason pick up, it's not too shabby. The Yankees are going to take a big step back this year, but I think the line is too low. I'm taking the over. 88 wins.
Oakland Athletics: 83
The main question is if the A's young rotation can repeat their successes of last year. The A's relied on rookies Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone and AJ Griffin to lead them to a division title last year. They went 33-19 with an impressive 3.51 ERA. Oakland goes into the season with virtually the same lineup along with ex-Diamondbacks outfielder Chris Young. Young is not going to set the world on fire, but he offers another bat to an otherwise light-hitting team. I could see Oakland making another run at the division this year. I'm taking the over. 88 wins.
Seattle Mariners: 76½
The Mariners added Jason Bay, Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse, and Raul Ibanez in hopes of kick starting a rather anemic lineup. If you throw them all against a wall, something is bound to stick. The problem with all of them is that they are all below-average when it comes to fielding. The pitching staff is sub-par after King Felix. Very simply, I think it will be a long season in Seattle. I'm taking the under. 72 wins.
Tampa Bay Rays: 86
The way this team is built is fascinating. They dealt two of their better starting pitchers, James Shields and Wade Davis for top hitting prospect Wil Myers. They still have possibly the best starting rotation in the American League. David Price is among the best in baseball. Jeremy Hellickson is still getting to know the American League but he's coming off a 10-11 season with a 3.10 ERA. Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, and Jeff Neimann round out the solid rotation. The bullpen, which was one of the strongest in baseball last season, seems just as strong as ever despite lefty JP Howell signing with the Dodgers. Offensively, they brought in James Loney and Yunel Escobar which should more than make up for the loss of BJ Upton, Jeff Keppinger and Carlos Pena. Look for Wil Myers to be brought up by mid-May this season and make a huge impact. Maybe not Harper or Trout big, but big nonetheless. I'm taking the over. 93 wins.
Texas Rangers: 87
The Rangers signed two great veterans in Lance Berkman and AJ Pierzynski this offseason to try to make up for the losses of Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli. It will be interesting to see how both of those moves pan out, but I think the Rangers' time has passed. After Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison, the pitching staff is loaded with question marks. Offensively, it's hard to argue against Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, Adrian Beltre, but I think the weak rotation and fragile bullpen will be the downfall of this team. I'm taking the under. 85 wins.
Toronto Blue Jays: 86½
Jose Bautista has to prove that he can overcome his season-ending wrist injury. Josh Johnson and Brandon Morrow have to prove they can stay healthy for once and Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey have to adjust to the powerful American League East. Melky Cabrera has to prove that he can be as good as he was for the Giants before getting suspended for juicing. I find myself asking question after question with this team. Don't forget, as well as the Blue Jays look on paper, a good amount of their players were Marlins in 2012. They didn't exactly execute. This team has a completely different look than it had last season. Since there are so many new faces around, a part of me has to take team chemistry into account. I think the Blue Jays are going to be a competitive team for years to come, maybe even a division winner within the next three seasons, but this year, I'm taking the under. 84 wins.
Here are my division standings predictions for the American League:
(* Denotes Wild Card winner)
American League East
Tampa Bay Rays
New York Yankees*
Toronto Blue Jays
Boston Red Sox
American League Central
Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals
American League West
Los Angeles Angels
AL MVP prediction: Evan Longoria
AL Cy Young prediction: Justin Verlander
AL Rookie of The Year prediction: Wil Myers