By Tyler Smith
American League East Predictions 2013
By Tyler Smith
American League East Predictions 2013
#1 Toronto Blue Jays
Stadium Capacity: Rogers Centre (49,260)
Manager: John Gibbons
2012 Record: (73-89)
Starting Pitching: The best staff in the majors resides in Canada. The Blue Jays made big moves bringing in Josh Johnson, R.A. Dickey, and Mark Buehrle. Those three will team up with Brandon Morrow, Ricky Romero, and Kyle Drabek. The NL Cy Young award winner, R.A. Dickey, will try his knuckle ball in the American League. Last season Dickey led the NL in K's and Innings pitched. Josh Johnson should bounce back after a down year. Johnson should return to form and win around 16 games, around 190 K's and an ERA hovering around 3.00. Brandon Morrow was having a Cy Young caliber season until an injury put him out for over two months. In 21 starts he had 10 wins, 108 K's and 2.96 ERA. Rickey Romero struggled with his command and that led him to leading the league in walks with 105. Kyle Drabek will start the season on the 60 day DL.
Relief Pitching: For all the starting pitching moves the Blue Jay's made in the offseason they neglected the bullpen. Casey Jansen retains the closer role. Jansen had 22 saves last season. Sergio Santos seems more fitting for the role and may earn it if Jansen falters. Brad Lincoln and Steve Belabar will be in middle and setup roles.
Infield: Jose Reyes brings a solid lead off batter to the Jays. Reyes has great speed, he had 13 triples and 37 doubles last season. Look for Reyes to surpass the 100 runs mark this season. The other newcomer from the Marlins is second basemen Emilo Bonifacio who will be in competition for the spot with Maicer Izturis. Brett Lawrie had a solid season at third. Lawrie hit a respectable .273 and had 48 RBI's. Edwin Encarnacion had a monster year with 42 HR's and 110 RBI's, while maintaining a .280 batting average. Adam Lind will split time at DH and first base with Encarnacion.
Outfield: Jose Bautista was on his way to his second 50 HR season. Bautista will be ready to go by spring training. Melky Cabrera was let go by the Giants after a failed drug test. Cabrera was hitting .346 before the 50 game ban. Colby Rasumus put up nice power numbers, but his batting average of .222 is concerning going forward.
Outlook: The Blue Jays saw a window of opportunity and they're going for it. They mad plenty of great moves this offseason bring in starting pitching and Jose Reyes to bat lead-off. Toronto could make a run at the AL Pennant this year.
#2 Tampa Bay Rays
Stadium Capacity: Tropicana Field (34,078)
Manager: Joe Maddon
2012 Record: (90-72)
Starting Pitching: The Rays have one of the best young staffs in the game. Matt Moore has great off-speed stuff and mid-90s fastball. Moore had 175 strikeouts in 177 innings of work. Jeremy Hellickson posted a 3.10 ERA, but struggled with commanded. David Price is one of the top pitchers in the game. The 2012 Cy Young award winner had a career high in wins (20) and a career low in losses (5). James Shields will be a loss, but this staff has enough young talent to make up for it.
Relief Pitching: Closer Fernando Rodney turned in the best season of his career at the age of 35. Rodney had 48 saves and only walked 15 batters in 74.2 innings. McGee and Peralta were dominating a year ago. Peralta had 84 strikeouts to 17 walks in 67 innings. McGee will take over for Rodney in the closer's role if he falters. McGee had a mid-90's fastball which commands well.
Infield: Yunel Escobar makes his way from Miami via trade. Yunel is average at the plate, but has a great glove. James Loney will take over at first, he doesn't provide the usual pop you want from a first basemen, he had six HR's last year. Jose Molina is a bit of a liability at the plate. The Rays will need Evan Longoria healthy and to post MVP numbers. Ben Zobrist can play just about every position. He will likely spend most of his time at second and in right. Zobrist puts up above average numbers at the plate. Second basemen Ryan Roberts needs to be more patient at the plate. He hit .214 with an OBP of .296.
Outfield: Leftfielder Sam Fuld only has four HR's in 537 at bats. Power is not his specialty, but if he can't hit for power he's going to need to raise his batting average to be serviceable. All the hype surrounded Desmond Jennings last season. His numbers were so-so for a lead off man. His steal numbers though are impressive. Look for Jennings to take another step forward this season.
Outlook: This franchise is only getting better. If Longoria can stay healthy and Jennings takes his game to another level the Rays could very well arrive at the top of the AL East a year early.
#3 New York Yankees
Stadium Capacity: Yankee Stadium (50,287)
Manager: Joe Girardi
2012 Record: (95-67)
Starting Pitching: CC Sabathia had another great season for the Yankees. He threw 200 innings, 197 K's, and a 3.38 ERA. If anything happens to Sabathia or his numbers decline, the Yankees will suffer. Hiroki Kuroda (38) and Andy Pettitte (40) aren't getting any younger. If both of these starters can log over 175 innings consider that a gift. The future of the Yankees staff starts with Michael Pineda. Pineda missed last season with shoulder surgery. In his last season with the Mariners he posted an ERA under four and 173 K's. Pineda could be the Yankees number two starter behind CC by the end of the season. Phil Hughes now in his seventh year with the Yankees posted a career high in K's, but gave up 35 HR's. Ivan Nova had an ERA over 5 last season. The Yankees lineup won't drive in as many runs this season, Nova will need to keep his ERA down.
Relief Pitching: Mariano Rivera will return for perhaps his last season. Rivera is coming of shoulder surgery, at his age there's no telling how he will comeback from that. David Robertson is the best setup guy in the business. The past two seasons he's combined for 126 innings and 181 K's. Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, and David Aardsma round out the pen.
Infield: Derek Jeter had a career high 216 hits last season. That's saying something for someone who's now in their 18th season. Alex Rodriguez underwent hip surgery in January. The Yankees will be lucky to get him back after the All-Star break. Don't count on A-Rod for anything this season until he's back on the field for a solid week or two. Kevin Youkilis will be primarily at third and see time at first/DH too. Youkilis was the lone offseason acquisition. Mark Teixeira power numbers will have to improve with all the departures and injuries. Robinson Cano is the most feared man in the lineup. He hit 33 HR's, 94 RBI's and had a .313 BA. Catcher Chris Stewart hit's for contact, which is not a good thing for this Yankee team. Eduardo Nunez will see time at third and DH.
Outfield: Curtis Granderson only made it five pitches before getting hit by a pitch. Granderson will likely be out until May. Ichiro Suzuki has less than 200 hits the past two seasons and hasn't scored 100 runs since 2008. The Yankees aren't likely to get over 40 steals out of him either. Brett Gardner missed almost all of last year to an elbow injury. The Yankees will need his speed on the bases and on the field.
Outlook: The Yankees aren't getting any younger. The offseason wasn't a traditional Yankee offseason. Injuries and departures likely will keep this team out of AL East contention. If they can hang tough until the trade deadline they could make a push.
#3 Boston Red Sox
Stadium Capacity: Fenway Park (37,495)
Manager: John Farrell
2012 Record (69-93)
Starting Pitching: The Red Sox will gladly welcome John Lackey from Tommy John Surgery. If Lackey can bring in 13-14 wins and pitch around 175 innings the Sox will be happy. Boston needs Jon Lester to get back on track. 2012 was a disaster for Lester with nine wins, 4.82 ERA, and 25 HR's given up. Clay Buchholz needs to put together a complete season like he did in 2010. Last years slow start can't happen again. Ryan Dempster will likely be the three or four in the rotation. Felix Doubront will round out the rotation.
Relief Pitching: The bullpen looks solid with Joel Hanrahan coming over from the Pirates. Hanrahan posted 36 saves on a team that won 79 games. Expect him to be around 40 saves with the Boston. Andrew Bailey is just as capable at closer, but was unimpressive in his 19 games last season and he went down with an injury. Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Franklin Morales, and Andrew Miller give Boston a lot of options out of the pen.
Infield: Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia put up solid power numbers with 25 HR's and 59 RBI's, but his batting average was .222. Saltalamacchia has more strikeouts (509) then he does game played (474). Stephen Drew will be at SS, if he doesn't impress, Xander Bogaerts or Jose Iglegias could arrive on the scene. Third baseman Will Middlebrooks could put up big numbers in a full season. He had 15 HR's and 54 RBI's in 267 at bats. Mike Napoli is slated to start at first. David Ortiz returns from injury and should be ready to go by opening day. Dustin Pedroia played through an injury last season. Pedroia will need to be at an MVP level for Boston to rise to the top of the AL East.
Outfield: A couple of free agents will join Jacoby Ellsbury in the outfield. Jonny Gomes is slated to start in left. Gomes will likely hit around 20 HR's and 80 RBI's for the Red Sox. Shane Victorino's 2012 season was the worst of his career. Career lows in batting average and OBP. These numbers will need to rise from him to be a serviceable two hole hitter. Jacoby Ellsbury is the teams best all around player. The problem has been injuries, a recurring theme for this team.
Outlook: The Red Sox simply need to stay healthy. Last year's team won 69 games. This isn't likely to happen again. Young prospects wait in the minors awaiting their chance. A sub-par season is likely this year, but next year they could be back near the top of the AL East.
#5 Baltimore Orioles
Stadium Capacity: Camden Yards (45,971)
Manager: Buck Showalter
2012 Record: (93-69)
Starting Pitching: Wei-Yin Chen was the teams best pitcher last season. One concern is how many HR's Chen gave up, 27. The Orioles have several good pitchers, but no true ace. Jason Hammel could be the guy for the role. Hammel went 8-6 in 20 starts with Baltimore. Zach Britton has great stuff, but was hindered by injuries last season. Britton will compete for a spot in the rotation due to several players emerging last season. Last years big finds were Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez. Tillman posted an ERA under three and won nine games in 15 starts. Gonzalez won nine games in his rookie season.
Relief Pitching: Sinker ball closer Jim Johnson had 50 saves a season ago. Matusz now finds himself in the bullpen after three disappointing seasons as a starter. Pedro Strop is the primary setup guy. Strop had a 2.44 ERA, but struggled at times with command.
Infield: Matt Wieters has been as advertised the past few years. His power is there, walks are up, and is an ironman behind the plate. Chris Davis had a monster year for Baltimore. He had a team best 33 HR's and 85 RBI's. Shortstop J.J. Hardy's power numbers are up, but his average and OBP took a dip. What if Brian Roberts could stay healthy? That's something Oriole fans have asked themselves for the past three years. He needs to stay healthy to compete in the AL East. Manny Machado (20) will get a full year under his belt after coming up last season and impressing. If someone falters in the infield Alexi Casilla is more then capable of filling their role.
Outfield: Adam Jones had a career year posting an .839 OPS, a career best. Jones had a career highs in doubles (39) and HR's (32.) Nick Markakis is a pure hitter. He gets on base at a high rate and can spray the ball all over the field. McLouth and Reimold will likely share leftfield unless something pops up in spring.
Outlook: The AL East is always tough. This Orioles team will need stay healthy and have consistent pitching to move up the ladder after a great 2011 season. They have the potential to make a run with their lineup, but can the pitching hold up.