Drei’s 2016 A.L. Forecast

Looking Back…

What Drei said last year…

” If there was ever a case for parity ( a word we’ll be hearing throughout the season ) in one division, the AL East makes a case…. Parity. Did I say we’d be using that word A LOT this season ?…Somebody in the Junior Circuit has to win 90 games, right ? The AL’s two best teams could very well be here in the west, setting up a potential ALDS showdown between these two. The Mariners and Angels are among the vast favorites to represent the AL in The Fall Classic.”

If there was one thing I nearly got right last year, I felt the AL would only have one team winning 90 plus games. Turns out two teams ended up winning over 90 games. Appropriately enough, both those teams ended up in the ALCS, one would eventually win the World Series.  Heading into 2016, I still do feel there will be a lot of parity in the Junior Circuit…

A.L East

From top to bottom, anyone is capable of winning this division. Dating back to 2011, each team has had their share of the division crown. Much of the offensive firepower the Blue Jays produced en route to their first post-season appearance in 22 years will be returning this season, including 2nd half pick up Troy Tulowitzki. Having a full season of Tulo should produce more lofty numbers. The loss of David Price from the rotation to the Red Sox may slow them down.

Boston has a good mix of veterans along with some up and comers in Mookie Betts and Xander Bogarts and the addition of David Price to their rotation should help them contend in the east.

The Yankees rotation has too many question marks. Will the off-season acquisition of Aroldis Chapman make much of a difference. Tampa may have the best rotation in the league and should they get any offensive help, could also challenge for the division. On the other side of the ledger, the Orioles, 2 years removed from a division crown, will not be lacking for offense if they can come close to their 217 dingers from last season. Pitching still remains a question. 

A.L. Central

After back to back playoff appearances and a World Series title, the Royals still can’t convince the so-called experts that they are the class of the division. This is another division where there seems to be no clear cut favorite as even Minnesota with it’s young roster remained in contention last season until the final weekend.

Defense, speed and relief pitching carried KC all the way to their first title in 30 years. Having Alex Gordon back should help. The rotation needs for Yordano Ventura to step as and assume the roll of the ace. A third consecutive post-season appearance is certainly attainable for KC.

Cleveland has a pretty formidable rotation of Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. Will off-season additions Mike Napoli, Rajai Davis, Juan Uribe and Marlon Byrd, players not exactly in their prime make a difference ? Having said that, I still feel Cleveland is ready to challenge for the division.

The White Sox and Tigers, disappointments from last season, look to bounce back. Detroit may be the division’s most improved team  but their biggest question will be their bullpen, which ranked among the worst last season. The Twins are the division’s most intriguing team, with a roster full of youth that started fast out the gate at 30-19. Expectation’s may be unfairly high for them, but last season’s experience in a pennant race should only help this group.

A.L. West

After a last place finish in 2014, the Texas Rangers bounced back nicely to return to the post season for the 4th time in 6 seasons. With Cole Hamels coming back and a healthy Yu Darvish along with along with a lineup that boasts big offensive numbers, the Rangers may be the most balanced team in the division. Their bullpen still has some holes to fill entering the season. 

The Astros, last season’s biggest surprise, is ready to make more noise this season. A full season with Carlos Gomez certainly can’t hurt the lineup. The Mariners, picked by many last season to represent the Junior Circuit in The Fall Classic after an 87 win campaign in 2014, regressed last season, something that could be of concern in Houston with expectations being higher. The M’s strength is still pitching, led by Felix Hernandez. I expect the Mariners to bounce back and be the sleeper in this division.

The Angels, even with the presence of Mike Trout, suffered a decline in offensive numbers last season. Their rotation is still solid and should keep them in contention. The A’s are the one team no one expects to do much. Offensive additions Yonder Alonso and Jed Lowrie should help the offense. Their rotation still has too many holes for Oakland to seriously pose a challenge for the division.

Wild Card

Astros over Boston

ALDS

Toronto over Houston

Seattle over Cleveland

ALCS

Toronto over Seattle. If this holds true to form…IF…this could be a matchup of teams with opposite strengths. Toronto came within 2 games last season, Seattle was expected by many, including your’s here, to challenge last season. Seattle is my choice for the AL darkhorse, which may not be saying much considering the league wide parity.

So based on my projections, the Junior Circuit is pretty much open for anyone to take, maybe even Oakland. Am I going against the pundits ? For the most part, yes. If the JC is this competitive this year, activity around the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline could be very minimal. I would not be surprised if there was a 3 way tie for either a division title or the wild card.

9th Inning…Drei’s Tale…Featuring Kid Marley Marlz and The Mariner Moose

MarlzMoose1 ” Yo Moose !  What it be…What it do ?..Are we gonna see YOU…In October ? “

MarlzMoose4 Hey Marlz, be nice ! You don’t want The Moose to bite back… ” Is that right ? “

MarlzMoose3 Awe, Kid Marley Marlz is sharing his milkshake with The Moose… ‘Til the next episode…

 

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