Today was supposed to be one of the best sports days of the year: Opening Day. We all know that we won’t be getting any baseball to watch for quite some time, as the date for the MLB season is still to be determined due to coronavirus (COVID-19). I know we are all bummed about the delayed start to the MLB season, so I wanted to give readers something to get excited about and get you all ready for the season.
I am going to predict how I believe the American League is going to look like at the end of the season, including how I think the playoffs will go. Of course, my predictions are based on a full, 162 game season, but here is how I think the division will pan out.
New York Yankees: 105-57
Tampa Bay Rays: 90-72
Boston Red Sox: 82-80
Toronto Blue Jays: 78-84
Baltimore Orioles: 59-103
The Yankees are yet again stacked and primed for another AL East championship. The question is: Will the addition of ace Gerrit Cole get them over the hump and into the World Series? I believe so. If the Yankees can stay healthy throughout the year, they will be the favorites to represent the AL in the World Series.
The Rays will have another solid year behind their great pitching and will grab the second Wild Card spot, just missing out on the first spot by a game. The Red Sox had an eventful offseason as they traded away star outfielder Mookie Betts and left hander David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers and lost ace Chris Sale to Tommy John surgery. These blows will make the Red Sox hover around .500. The Blue Jays have a nice young core and the addition of Hyun-Jin Ryu is a big help to their rotation, but I believe they are still one or two years away from making some noise. The Orioles will have another tough year, but let’s see just how many home runs they give up this year.
Minnesota Twins: 99-63
Cleveland Indians: 88-74
Chicago White Sox: 86-76
Kansas City Royals: 63-99
Detroit Tigers: 53-109
The defending AL Central champs, the Minnesota Twins, will win the division again. After a 101-win season last year, they will just miss the 100-win mark by one game. The Josh Donaldson addition strengthens a lineup that broke the MLB record last year for most home runs hit in a season with 307.
The Indians will miss the playoffs again, but will be competitive as long as they keep Francisco Lindor and Mike Clevinger.
The White Sox will make a big jump, but will be about another year away from making a move into a playoff spot. After a strong offseason that added catcher Yasmani Grandal and slugger Edwin Encarnacion, along with pitchers Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez, the White Sox will have a much better year than last year.
The Royals are still in the early stages of their rebuild and will just avoid a third-straight 100-loss season. The Tigers will again be the worst team in baseball, but at least they won’t be as bad as they were last year.
Houston Astros: 101-61
Oakland Athletics: 91-71
Los Angeles Angels: 83-79
Texas Rangers: 78-84
Seattle Mariners: 65-97
The Astros had an offseason that will be remembered throughout time. Their sign-stealing scandal shook the baseball world and we are all eager to see just how much of their recent success was due to the sign-stealing. I see them taking a slight dip in the win column, but the talent on their roster and the players wanting to prove the sign-stealing wasn’t their only key to success will win them another division title.
The Athletics will win a few less games this upcoming year, but it will still be good enough to host the Wild Card game in Oakland as they will grab the top Wild Card spot. The Angels had an interesting offseason as they missed out on the Cole sweepstakes, but they managed to sign Anthony Rendon and have a great new manager in Joe Maddon. The Angels will finish above .500, but Mike Trout will yet again miss out on the playoffs.
The Rangers missed out on Rendon, but added pitcher Corey Kluber. The team still needs more help both in their rotation and lineup and will finish below .500. The Mariners could have a bright future, but are still in a rebuild and will have another tough year.
AL Wild Card Game
Tampa Bay Rays (5) @ Oakland Athletics (4)
In a rematch of last year’s Wild Card game, the Athletics will get their revenge against the Rays. The Athletics will score early to get their home fans involved and hold on in what will be a pitcher’s duel.
Oakland Athletics (4) @ New York Yankees (1)
The Athletics will get over the hump and win the Wild Card game, but will meet a loaded Yankees team that has home- field advantage. The Yankees will win this series rather easily as they will sweep the Athletics in three games.
Minnesota Twins (3) @ Houston Astros (2)
This series could be a very entertaining one. It will be the rotation of the Astros against the bats of the Twins. Pitching usually wins in the playoffs and I believe that will be the case in this series. The series will go the distance, but the Astros will win game five in Houston.
Houston Astros (2) @ New York Yankees (1)
In a rematch of last year’s ALCS, the Yankees will this time have home-field advantage and a legitimate ace to start game 1 in the Bronx. You know how badly the Yankees want to beat the Astros after their sign-stealing scandal might have cost New York two trips to the World Series. I believe that motivation and the addition of Cole at the top of their rotation will finally get them back to the World Series. As long as they are healthy, I think the Yankees beat the Astros in six games.
The Yankees are primed for a run to the World Series after their offseason addition of an ace in Cole. The loss of Luis Severino hurts their rotation a bit, but I still believe it is deep enough to get them through the American League. If no major injuries occur during the regular season or playoffs, the New York Yankees will be representing the American League in the World Series and will have a great shot at bringing World Series Championship No. 28 back to the Bronx.
Photo: (Mark Brown-Getty Images)