Projected Finish: 2nd Place
2012 Record: 68-94
The biggest question mark for this team is the pitching staff. Fausto Carmona, or Roberto Hernandez, or whatever his name is fled Cleveland to get a new start in Tampa (not a bad thing for the Indians) and they are now looking at starting a rotation that includes Dice-K. Cleveland broke the bank two years ago to obtain Ubaldo Jiminez, but have not had a decent return on investment. He went 9-17 in 2012 with a 5.40 ERA. The ace of a staff needs to be much better than this. Justin Masterson is their opening day starter and he gives up more hits than Jive records. Brett Myers is trying to turn back time and convert back to starter after being a closer for two years in Houston. I mentioned that Daisuke Matsuzaka was going to be a starter, right? That is all you need to hear to understand the pressing issue of the starting pitching of this team.
The Indians are going to try to out hit everyone they play. They are going to put out one of the deepest lineups in the game so they certainly can't be blamed for trying. They have every attribute you could want with some speed, some power, good eyes, and some average hitters to keep all pitchers on their toes. The expectations are going to be high as they did make a splash in every sense they could. Will that turn into success?
Projected Finish: 4th Place
Reason for Projection: The Indians are going to see just how hard it is to win without pitching. It isn't like their staff is serviceable, it is down right terrible. Their top two pitchers have a combined ERA over 5. You need pitching to win in today's MLB. Francona will bring a buzz around this team, but this year will ultimately be a disappointment. They have Trevor Bauer who they received from the Diamondbacks. He could come up and be a difference maker, but he seems to be another year away from making a real impact. It will be a down year in Cleveland, but what else is new.
2012 Record: 88-74
Your American League Champions have somehow found a way to become better. They already have one of the best pitchers in the game and the reigning MVP (this year that statement wasn't talking about the same person). Then you add a nine time Gold Glove outfielder who can still hit and you get back a DH with an over .300 batting average on his career and the last year he played with you he blasted 52 extra base hits. This team will no doubt be one of the favorites to go back to the Series, if not to win it. They have Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera. That is enough to carry most teams to the playoffs. Then you add Victor Martinez, Omar Infante and Torii Hunter to a lineup that already has Prince Fielder and Austin Jackson.
This may be the deepest team in the American League. There are no easy outs in the lineup and their number five starter has never won less than ten games in his four year career. The only question is whether rookie Bruce Rondon is ready to take the closer's role after Jose Valverde was allowed to walk. If not there are other viable candidates such as Phil Coke, Joaquin Benoit and Octavio Dotel. With so much talent, the holes seem so minute that they shouldn't be a problem. They could use some veteran bench depth, just in case an injury happens they would be covered. There is still time to make a small time trade or even sign a Johnny Damon type.
The Tigers have all the talent to go far, but will it result in wins? We have all seen the teams that on paper look like they make the rest of the league look like they are playing in the minors, then the games are played and the roles are reversed. Is this the fate of Detroit or are they destined to lift up the Commissioner's Trophy in 2013?
Projected Finish: 1st Place
Reason For Projection: This team is too good and the division is not very deep. Your team is stacked in the rotation and the lineup. Unless an unforeseen injury to someone irreplaceable (i.e. Verlander or Cabrera) or the bullpen situation just can't be fixed, expect to see this team glide on to the playoffs. They will have a hard fight with Chicago for most of the season, but they will end up on top for the second year in a row. They may have been in the right place at the right time when they played an over matched A's team and a slumping Yanks team so they are going to need to prove that they have what it takes to beat the best when they're at their best.
2012 Record: 72-90
Projected Finish: 3rd Place
This team will not be very good this year, and the way things are going it seems it will be a long time before they are again. They have one of the best managers in the game wallowing away with a team that is just atrocious to even look at. Baseball is a law of averages, and that says that they will win some games over the season. However, this is still one of the worst teams in the league, and the future doesn't look so bright.
Projected Finish: 5th Place
Reason for Projection: Because they suck. I really don't know how else to put it. They don't have up-and-coming talent that can fuel the franchise to win games when they aren't supposed to. They don't have veterans who can teach the kids what it is like to win. They only have two home grown boys who seem destined to be stuck on a middling team for the rest of their careers. So much for this generation's version of the M and M boys.