1. Astros – 89-73: After a disappointing season from the bullpen, and an injury riddled season from the starting rotation, all there is is up. Brian McCann should help improve the pitching staff’s performance.
2. M’s – 88-74: With 223 homers in 2016 and a low team batting average of .259, the addition of Jean Segura atop the lineup should help produce more runs. James Paxton and Gallardo are the X-factors here. However, the performance of the slim bullpen is also an X-factor.
3. Rangers – 82-80: Another offseason with no significant changes in the pitching staff. The bullpen is even thinner to begin the season as Jake Diekman is out until all-star break. However, the X-factor is the pitching staff. With tough division competition, along with the potential of lots of close games, their lack of bullpen talent, and Bannister’s lack of success in the recent playoffs, Texas will finally have their downfall season.
4. A’s – 72-89: A season away from being potentially at 81 wins or more. Good depth in bullpen and on bench, but starting rotation may be worst in AL. The youngsters are not ready to take on productive 150+ inning campaigns.
5. Angels – 71-91: Record doesn’t reflect how competitive they will be nigh in, night out. Should be one of the best defensive teams in league, and have solid offensive production. However, other than their closer, they have no bullpen. Starting rotation is decent with pitchers like Shoemaker and Skaggs who can pitch a good 4+ innings, but will eventually get hit hard, leaving the game to the poor bullpen.
1. The Tribe – 97-65: Should run away with the division if they stay healthy. Won the division and lost in WS without Michael Brantley, a full season from Carrasco and Salazar, without Yan Gomes for much of the season, and only having Andrew Miller for the second half. Other than Jason Kipnis starting the season on the DL, Brantley, Carrasco and Salazar are all healthy. Encarnacion is now batting in the middle of the lineup, and Andrew Miller will be a Indian for a full season. Lastly, of course, Terry Francona is still at the helm.
2. KC – 83-79: Well balanced lineup will keep them in hunt for a while, but absence of Wade Davis and Ventura will drag the Royals back down. Raul Mondesi Jr could be big sleeper for the Rookie of the Year award.
3. Tigers – 83-79: Miguel Cabrera, K-rod, and Verlander will keep the Tigers’ head above the water. However, Brad Asmus has proven every year that he is not the right fit as manager in Detroit. Injuries and lacking of performance from different players will continue to bite.
4. White Sox – 70-92: When a team clearly states that they are rebuilding by trading away stars, they usually play like it. But will still be fun to watch with all of the top prospects they have.
5. Twins – 62-100: Possibly worst team in all of baseball. No pitching at all. If they were in a different division, then maybe their offense could keep them somewhat competitive, but they have to play the Indians and Tigers a whole lot.
1. Jays – 90-72: Will be one of the most productive rotations in the AL. However, lack of bullpen depth and uncertainty of survival without Encarnacion could sting a little.
2. Yankees – 88-74: Arguably the best bullpen in all the land. Have power everywhere including the new additions of Matt Holiday and Chris Carter. However, the X-factor is the starting rotation. Tanaka, Pineda, and Severino had very productive Springs. But rotation is still slim.
3. Sox – 86-76: Uncertainty of health of David Price, the pen leading up to Kimbrel, and the absence of Big Papi. However, Chris Sale and production from rest of lineup will be lethal.4. O’s – 83-79: Like every season, starting pitching is dealing with injuries and depending on guys like Gausman and Bundy to produce. But, the offense and bullpen are still going to be top notch.
4. O’s – 83-79: Another off season without improving starting rotation, as it again will be the X-factor. However, offense and bullpen will still be top notch.
5. Rays – 74-88: Very deep everywhere. Alex Colome is one of the games next great closers, and Blake Snell has the potential to be a top 10 lefty starter in all the majors. But, they are in arguably the most competitive division.