The annual United Cardinal Bloggers (UCB) predictions project is often an exercise in futility. Teams rarely look the same in September as they do in March — and even if they do, the best laid plans of managers and GMs often fail to produce the desired results making any effort to predict MLB season outcomes little more than wasted space on a blog roll. But hey…it’s fun anyway, right?
That being said, my attempts to predict the American League are often worth even less. I just don’t follow the AL. The good ‘ol 10-on-9 league lost all interest for me when they instituted the designated hitter (DH) rule. So, consider this prediction a warm-up post for the NL predictions to come.
But before we get to this year’s predictions, let’s take a minute to review last year’s predictions. In the AL East, we went with Toronto, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, New York, and Boston, in that order. The actual final season standings: Boston, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, New York, and Toronto. Well, at least we got New York right. Maybe Boston beating my Cardinals in the World Series was the Red Sox way of saying F*** Y**! for picking them to finish dead last.
In the AL West, we guessed things would look like this: Angels, Athletics, Rangers, Mariners, and Astros. The actual standings weren’t too far off. Just take the Angels out of first place, stick them in third place between the Rangers and Mariners, and adjust every one else accordingly. Come on…the Angels lineup fooled everybody.
And finally, in the AL Central, we predicted Detroit, Kansas City, Chicago, Cleveland, and Minnesota. Eh, mixed bag. The actual standings looked like this: Detroit, Cleveland, Kansas City, Minnesota, and Chicago. At least we picked the division winner — and who saw the Indians making the playoffs?!
So now that you’ve had a proper disclaimer…let’s get into this year’s AL predictions.
1. Tampa Bay Rays
2. New York Yankees
3. Boston Red Sox
4. Baltimore Orioles
5. Toronto Blue Jays
I know a lot of people are enamored with the Red Sox, but the Boston boys just didn’t do enough in the offseason to stave off the effects of age while doing too little to retain key pieces of the team from last year. The loss of Drew and Ellsbury will drag them down come July. On the other hand, the Rays look to be very good again this season and could look to their momentum and stability as a way to capitalize on the empty space created by Boston’s abdication. New York’s offseason extravaganza will make them contenders, but as the Blue Jays found out last season, a whole lot of pieces do not necessarily build a solid championship team. And finally, the window may be closing in Baltimore, but their recent run may be enough to revitalize a team that’s had their fill of losing. 2014 may be a lost cause, but don’t expect the Orioles to accept their losing station year-after-year as they have in the past.
1. Detroit Tigers
2. Kansas City Royals
3. Cleveland Indians
4. Minnesota Twins
5. Chicago White Sox
The Tigers pitching staff, as always, will get the job done, but expect a dogfight between the Royals and Indians for second place — and perhaps a Wild Card spot. I really believe in Kansas City this season. They got their “stepping stone” season out of the way in 2013 and look poised to improve in 2014. The Indians, however, look ready to count on Francona’s ability to catch lightening in a bottle two years in a row. Don’t count on it. As far as the Twins and Sox are concerned — eh, flip a coin. I chose to simply go with last year’s results.
1. Oakland Athletics
2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
3. Texas Rangers
4. Seattle Mariners
5. Houston Astros
Alright, alright. The A’s have finally made believers out of me. I’m not sure how they’ll do it, but I believe they’ll find a way to get it done. Of course, the ability of other also-rans in their division to falter predictably couldn’t hurt. The Angels will likely finally pull things together and figure out how to win more than they lose. The addition of David Freese should help, and a healthy Pujols can’t hurt either. After that, look for the Rangers lineup to punish the Mariners and Astros just enough to finish third. God help the Astros. Will they ever win again?
That’ll do it for the American League. Check back later for National League predictions a division at a time. And check out the UCB site for more blogger predictions for 2014 beginning March 24th.