2015 American League Preview

AL Preview 560x219Do you believe in magic? What about buying a championship? Do you still think that all you need to do to win a World Series is pay all the big name players $200 million dollars? If you honestly still think that, you need to step away from the sauce and find a way back to reality my friend.

2014 American League 560x279The Baltimore Orioles won the 2014 AL East and they did it with ease finishing 12 games over the second place Yankees. Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox, whom most analysts projected to make it to the World Series last season, finished dead last. Then there was the Kansas City Royals who defied all the odds and made it to the World Series. The World Series? How in the…

You know what, how about we just get into the 2015 season and quit trying to figure out how anything happened last year. Let’s go.

American League East

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5. Tampa Bay Rays

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2014 Record: 77-85, 4th Place

MVP: Evan Longoria, 3B – Best player in the Majors that has the worst luck. If he stays healthy and goes a full season, he will put up numbers that rival the best in the league.

Best Pitcher: Drew Smyly, SP – Don’t be shocked if he wins 14-15 games in 2015

Best Hitter: Evan Longoria, 3B – See above.

Surprise Star: Mikie Mahtook, OF – This should finally be the year we get to see the former LSU standout make his mark in MLB.

Future Hero: Steven Souza Jr., OF – Steven will get more than enough time to prove that he belongs at this level. That can be good or it can be bad. Only time will tell.

Craziest 2015 Prediction: The Rays could end up stealing a few series from divisional opponents and end up fighting for a Wild Card spot.

4. Baltimore Orioles

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2014 Record: 96-66, 1st Place

2014 Post-Season: ALCS (Swept by Kansas City Royals, 0-4)

MVP: Manny Machado, 3B – At 22 years old, if he plays 162 games this year with no knee issues, he could become the youngest player since former Oriole, Cal Ripken, to win the AL MVP.

Best Pitcher: Wei-Yin Chen, SP – His numbers have improved and he might just be ready to have one of those amazing seasons where a player goes from potential talent to actual talent.

Best Hitter: Adam Jones, OF – Face of the franchise.

Surprise Star: J.J. Hardy, SS – Reminds us all that he once had power and a stroke that could kill a bear. We think he goes for 25 HRs.

Future Hero: Kevin Gausman, P – After 25 starts, the only thing we know about KG is that he has some nasty stuff but is still learning how to control his pitches better. Once he masters the art of pitching at this level, he might end up being one of the better hurlers in the AL for a few years to come.

Craziest 2015 Prediction: Alejandro De Aza leads the Majors in steals and breaks the single season record for steals in a season.

3. New York Yankees

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2014 Record: 84-78, 2nd Place

MVP: Jacoby Ellsbury, CF or Mashario Tanaka, SP – If Tanaka stays healthy and his elbow remains healthy, he is not only the MVP, he is a Cy Young candidate. If not, Ellsbury will bring home the Team MVP.

Best Pitcher: C.C. Sabathia, SP – Dude remains elite, regardless of age.

Best Hitter: Carlos Beltran, OF – The years are running out for Beltran’s impressive career. At 37 years old, he might be heading down the path of retirement and the time to win is now or never. Think of 2015 as a contract year for Beltran.

Surprise Star: Alex Rodriguez, DH – It isn’t a long shot to think A-Rod can produce, even at his age. If he remains in the DH role from the beginning of the season, he has a great chance of hitting 35 Home Runs and 100 Runs Batted In.

Future Hero: Jacob Lindgren, RP – Just you wait for his name to be called in relief later this season, you will see.

Craziest 2015 Prediction: Derek Jeter comes out of retirement, gets added to the lineup before the Post-Season cutoff date, leads the Yankees to the World Series where he hits the game-winning RBI to win Game 7.

2. Boston Red Sox

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2014 Record: 71-91, 5th Place

MVP: Hanley Ramirez, LF – If they want to win a World Series, they need an infielder to step up and run this unit. But we will take a former SS that has been tossed into Left Field because he is too good to sit on the bench.

Best Pitcher: Clay Buchholz, SP

Best Hitter: Hanley Ramirez, LF – Super talented ballplayer that always finds a way to get a base hit.

Surprise Star: Mookie Betts, CF – If you didn’t watch the Red Sox in 2014, you have no clue who this is. But if you did, then you couldn’t agree more that after a surprising 2014 season, this kid just might end up being an All-Star by July.

Future Hero: Blake Swihart, C – Mike Piazza was the best hitting Catcher of all-time when he retired. This kid might catch him.

Craziest 2015 Prediction: The Red Sox get projected to the World Series and acquire two All-Star infielders but finish dead last in the AL East and have one of the worst records in baseball. Wait a minute…that was 2014.

1. Toronto Blue Jays

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2014 Record: 83-79, 3rd Place

MVP: Jose Bautista, RF – It wasn’t too long ago he was hitting bombs into Ontario. This could be the year he hits for 70 and ends up fighting his way into the AL MVP race.

Best Pitcher: Mark Buerhle, SP – Why do so many people forget about this guy? He has been one of the best pitchers in baseball since 1980.

Best Hitter: Josh Donaldson, 3B – How did they land this kid for virtually nothing?

Surprise Star: Michael Saunders, LF – If healthy, this guy can end up being the final piece of the puzzle for a loaded lineup in Toronto.

Future Hero: Miguel Castro, RP

Craziest 2015 Prediction: Toronto struggles and panic ensues so trades are made and Jose Bautista ends up an Astro in exchange for hot dogs and pixie stix.

American League Central

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5. Minnesota Twins

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2014 Record: 70-92, 5th Place

MVP: There really isn’t a clear cut best player, just a random bunch of characters that, when combined, form a baseball club. Nothing else to look at here, move along.

Best Pitcher: Ricky Nolasco, SP – Minnesota paid Ricky a lot of money so he really doesn’t have  choice but to earn it this season or hit the hay. He had a terrible 2014 and cannot repeat the same this year.

Best Hitter: Brian Dozier, 2B – Who else?

Surprise Star: Joe Mauer, 1B – Why? This is a 3-time batting champion that has been to multiple All-Star games. How does he make the surprise star list? Because he is 32 years old and might be on the long road to the end of his career. However, he isn’t done just yet. Don’t be shocked if he does well. He still has the tools to hit above average and the power to hit the long balls too.

Future Hero: Aaron Hicks, CF – The Twins are going to be bad, they have a very weak pitching rotation, so it might end up opening the doors for the young guns in the minor leagues. Hicks is a very strong candidate to be the next everyday guy in the OF.

Craziest 2015 Season Prediction: Joe Mauer goes old school and wins the AL Triple Crown and leads the Twins to their first World Series appearance in a very long time.

4. Kansas City Royals

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2014 Record: 89-73, 2nd Place

2014 Post-Season: World Series (Lost to San Francisco)

MVP: Eric Hosmer, 1B – Mainly because if he doesn’t hit 65 HR in 2015, this could end up being a year to forget following a World Series in 2014.

Best Pitcher: Luke Hochevar,RP – Missed last season thanks to Tommy John surgery but is going to be back at full strength in 2015. He is their best pitcher, don’t kid yourself.

Best Hitter: Eric Hosmer, 1B – See Above!

Surprise Star: Alcides Escobar, SS – This kid has been forgotten about and is easily one of the best defenders in the MLB. If he can start hitting at a more consistent level, he could do some serious damage and even help this team win some more games.

Future Hero: Brandon Finnegan, P – He might have been dropped from the roster but he shouldn’t be down too long. Trust us, he will be back.

Craziest 2015 Season Prediction: Well, after what happened in 2014, you already have been a part of a crazy prediction, what else is there to say?

3. Chicago White Sox

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2014 Record: 73-89, 4th Place

MVP: Jose Abreu, 1B – Jose has been playing professional baseball since he was 16 years old. He has fought his way out of the minors and exploded in 2014 to win the AL Rookie of the Year award. His powerful hitting will get even better this year and he will clear 50 Home Runs. Watch!

Best Pitcher: Chris Sale, LHP – He is deliberate and throws a mean fastball. He finished last season with a 12-4 record and had a career high in K’s per 9 innings. (10.8)

Best Hitter: Jose Abreu, 1B – And it isn’t even close.

Surprise Star: Jose Quintana, P – Here is the guy that will lock down the 3rd spot in the rotation. That is one of the hardest slots for a starting pitcher because you usually end up pitching the games that are mid-day or weekend travel days where most starters rest. Regardless, he is the X-Factor for this rotation. If he can win 15, this team finishes above Detroit.

Future Hero: Carlos Rodon, LHP – North Carolina State’s best left handed pitcher of all-time will start come July. Will he have the same success he had in college? Everyone sure hopes so.

Craziest 2015 Season Prediction: The Tigers fight injuries and the Indians go full Major League and end up underperforming to help pave the road for the White Sox.

2. Detroit Tigers

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2014 Record: 90-72, 1st Place

2014 Post-Season: ALDS (Lost to Baltimore)

MVP: Yoenis Cespedes, OF – Remember that throw he made from the parking lot to home plate to throw out the runner? That was arguably the greatest throw in baseball history and he made it look easy.

Best Pitcher: David Price, Justin Verlander, and Anibal Sanchez, SP – That just isn’t fair to have those three All-Stars as part of your pitching rotation. Unfair.

Best Hitter: Miguel Cabrera, 1B – Even in a down year this guy hits over .300 so don’t expect anything less from the 31 year old former AL MVP and Triple Crown winner.

Surprise Star: Rajai Davis, OF – He might be getting older but for some odd reason, he is showing signs of life towards the end of a long tiresome career. He won’t put up MVP numbers but he can put up big enough crooked numbers to surprise a lot of people.

Future Hero: Derek Hill, OF

Craziest 2015 Season Prediction: Detroit fights the same injury bug that plagued and tore apart the Texas Rangers in 2014 thus paving the road for the Chicago White Sox to make a Wild Card appearance in the AL Playoffs.

1. Cleveland Indians

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2014 Record: 85-77, 3rd Place

MVP: Corey Kluber, SP – Cy Young winner is back for another big year! He won 18 games last season and this year, he could go for 24 wins. Just you wait Henry Higgins, just you wait!

Best Pitcher: Corey Kluber, SP – Best player on the team, hands down. Sorry hitters, this guy is legit.

Best Hitter: Michael Brantley, OF – He is 27 years old, had a MVP caliber season in 2014, and has a terrific pitching staff to back up his long ball. This kid might just end up the second best player on this team but could end up the AL MVP.

Surprise Star: Michael Bourn, OF – There is just something that says he will have a surprisingly productive 2015.

Future Hero: Francisco Lindor, SS – Who is this kid and where did he come from?

Craziest 2015 Season Prediction: Michael Bourn resurfaces as the best base stealer in baseball and steals 100 bags.

American League West

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5. Texas Rangers

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2014 Record: 67-95, 5th Place

MVP: Adrian Beltre, 3B – One of the best natural hitters in baseball history. From his swing to his power, Beltre is just a great hitter that can go deep at any moment but also change directions and flip the ball down the lines.

Best Pitcher: Yu Darvish, SP – If he stays healthy this year, he is the best pitcher in baseball. Errr, nm.

Best Hitter: Prince Fielder, 1B – This lineup is loaded and makes us all wonder how or why they are projected so low in this division. Prince Fielder can produce and ends up hitting 35-40 HR’s to help the Rangers climb out of the dwellar.

Surprise Star: Ross Detwiler, SP – He might be projected as a 5th starter but keep your eyes on him early on in the season.

Future Hero: Joey Gallo, 3B – Remember when he was in college and even with the terrible bats, he still managed to hit more Home Runs than anyone else in the NCAA? He can ball.

Craziest 2015 Season Prediction: No one gets hurt again. Yeah right, Cruz is gone and the injury bug isn’t finished his work in Arlington.

4. Oakland Athletics

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2014 Record: 88-74, 2nd Place

2014 Post-Season: Wild Card (Lost to Detroit)

MVP: Josh Reddick, OF – If he plays a full season, Reddick is a MVP candidate. But he has only played a full season once and it wasn’t a complete season, he missed 9 games.

Best Pitcher: Sonny Gray, SP – He is young, fun, and has so much upside it is scary. So the Athletic’s decided to make him their top starter. Ok?

Best Hitter: Josh Reddick, OF – Again, he stays healthy and goes 160+ games, the lineup is strong enough to help his numbers skyrocket in 2015.

Surprise Star: Ben Zoborist, 2B – He is the one guy you hate to pitch against because he can do so many things right. He is as annoying as he is dependable.

Future Hero: Matt Olson, 1B

Craziest 2015 Season Prediction: Oakland tries to react to a bad start and trades away Brad Pitt for Jonah Hill in a joke that most of you will probably think makes no sense. And it doesn’t.

3. Houston Astros

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2014 Record: 70-92, 4th Place

MVP: Jose Altuve, 2B – Every team has one guy that can be a star and the Astors don’t but Jose Altuve is still close to the biggest thing in Texas besides their state Flag.

Best Pitcher: Mark Appel, P – Oh no. It is not a good sign that a prospect is your best overall pitcher but that is the story of the Houston Astros since they traded Roy Oswalt away a few years ago. There is no one else that could emerge as the Ace but Appel has the stuff to eventually become one.

Best Hitter: George Springer, OF – This guy is going to help the Astros win a bunch of games or force them to start trading away young talent for anyone that can hit a baseball.

Surprise Star: Dallas Kuechel, SP – No other reason to think this former Razorback can’t adjust to the Majors and become one of the better Astros SP’s.

Future Hero: Carlos Correa, SS

Craziest 2015 Season Prediction: They win 100 games, end up taking the Kansas City approach to winning and find themselves in just their second World Series ever.

2. LA Angels of Anaheim

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2014 Record: 98-64, 1st Place

2014 Post-Season: ALDS (Lost to Kansas City)

MVP: Take your pick! Ok, that Trout guy is pretty good.

Best Pitcher: Take your pick!

Best Hitter: Take your pick!

Surprise Star: This LA Angels team is loaded and we honestly aren’t taking the easy way out, we simply can’t pick any of these award winners because, frankly, there are several guys in the bullpen and in the lineup that can win any of them.

Future Hero: Sean Newcomb, P

Craziest 2015 Season Prediction: Everyone retires.

1. Seattle Mariners

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2014 Record: 87-75, 3rd Place

MVP: Robinson Cano, 2B – It is a loaded lineup that should win plenty of games on offense alone but Robinson Cano is one of the best Second baseman to wear a glove in 40 years. He can knock the cover off a ball too, just for fun.

Best Pitcher: Felix Hernandez, SP – Best pitcher in baseball. He proves it in 2015.

Best Hitter: Robinson Cano, 2B – You can’t win the MVP of the team as a great hitter and not also win this award, can you?

Surprise Star: Nelson Cruz, DH – Ok, so Cruz isn’t so much a surprise star as he is a freaking lucky sign in the off-season. This guy turns the lineup into something we are use to seeing in the Northeast, not the West.

Future Hero: Brad Miller, SS – He doesn’t have to be the best anymore, there are more than enough candidates to make up for his weak bat. But don’t expect him to repeat last season’s performance, this kid can do good things with a glove and a bat.

Craziest 2015 Season Prediction: Nothing to see here, the Mariners are the real deal.