Another look around the American League

Sunday, May 10th, 2009   (7 years, 11 months ago)

…a league with one division and a lot of really irrelevant teams

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Toronto Blue Jays
As we approach the quarter mark of the season the Blue Jays still have the best offense in the majors and are still the winningest team in the American League. At sports desks across America a hundred old-schooly typewriters have already completed drafts of articles comparing the Jays to the 2008 Rays. Expect them to start hitting your local papers and internets right after next week’s series against New York. If the Jays dominate the Yankees comparisons will be favorable but filled with statements of caution - otherwise the articles will be about how foolish it is to compare the 2009 Jays to the far superior 2008 Rays.

Boston Red Sox
Their offense has been building steam as the weeks roll by and may in fact be better than Toronto’s at this point. The pitching? Not so good - they’re giving up a ton of walks, are allowing over 5 runs a game, and are in the bottom third of the Major Leagues in team BAA, OPS against and WHIP. None of those are good signs but no one expects Lester and Beckett to stay this bad all season, and the offense is carrying them for now even without David Ortiz in the lineup.
…he is in the lineup? Wow.

Kansas City Royals
Obviously the best pitching in the majors right now. Zach Greinke is putting up a start for the ages. Is manager Trey Hillman saving Joakim Soria for something more important than the games the Royals are currently playing? A special super-game that counts for 10 points in the standings perhaps? The Royals have played 32 games and Soria has pitched 8 inning.
The offense came to life for a stretch but has gone right back to sleep in the series against the Angels. How about the Royals going 1 for 1 in the 8th inning Thursday yet somehow scoring 2 runs and 3 outs: HPB (0-0, 0 out), RBI sac fly (0-0, 1 run, 1 out), intentional walk, HBP, RBI single with a runner throw out at home (1-1, 2 runs, 2 out), runner picked off first (3 out). That’s a special blend of inept and lucky right there…

Detroit Tigers
The pitching has been stellar, which is a good thing because the hitting has been mediocre to bad. Miguel Cabrerra has been an absolute monster at the plate this year, but after him… well, there’s a bit of a drop off. The next best everyday player is Brandon Inge - yes the same Brandon Inge they’ve been benching, moving from position to position and trying to trade for the last 3 years. One out of every three hits Curtis Granderson has this year is a homer (9HR while going 30/117). That would be a lot better news for the Tigers if Granderson’s OBP wasn’t a paltry .333 - which is still the third best among everyday Tigers players by the way.

Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays are slowly waking up from their somnambulant start which could make the best division in baseball a lot tougher. Last year 4 of the best 8 teams in the majors were in the AL East (Tampa, Boston, NY, Toronto). If the Rays and Yankees turn things around (and the Angels don’t) all of the best teams in the AL will be in the same division. I think it’s safe to go ahead and remove the “future” from “future superstar Evan Longoria” now. When men hear the name “Evan Longoria” these days most of them may even be picturing amazing glovework and towering home runs instead of… something else.

LA Angels
The pitching has been mediocre to good, and the hitting has been mediocre to bad. Are we looking at the end of the road for 34-year old Vlad Guerrero? The numbers have been declining the last couple of years and some executives are saying they see him as only a DH now. If the Angels don’t get back to their 2008 form there isn’t a team in the rest of the American League that could finish better than 3rd in the AL East. As many as 2 undeserving teams may go to the post-season in the AL this year while better teams stay home.

Texas Rangers
It’s tough to take a team seriously when their pitching is this bad. The pitching has been bad for… well let’s call it forever… and outside of a surprising start to the season by Kevin Millwood the pitching is garbage again this year. The offense hasn’t been awe-inspiring like Toronto and Boston but Texas may be able to bash their way to the post-season in the comically weak AL West. Despite that this is really not a good team overall.

New York Yankees
The offense has been very good and getting Alex Rodriguez back can only help. Their total runs scored is just a tick below the Rangers but the pitching has been jaw-droppingly bad. Everyone in baseball still believes they’re going to turn things around and become a factor again this year, but with each passing day the Yankees pitching staff pushes the team closer and closer to irrelevance in the AL East.

Seattle Mariners
The pitching is good but not good enough to compensate for the ridiculously anemic offense. Seattle is right there with the White Sox and Oakland when it comes to not getting players across the plate. Sadly they still might end up winning the AL West.

Minnesota Twins
The offense is weak and the pitching is mediocre to bad yet somehow they’re managing to stay around .500 and somewhat in the picture in the AL Central. What does this tell us? Nothing except that outside the Royals hot start the Central is pretty bad. No team in the Central except Kansas City has a winning record against the East, but every team in the Central except Cleveland is .500 or better against the AL West.

Chicago White Sox
They were mediocre in both offense and pitching for the first few weeks. The ChiSox have improved to among the league’s best at preventing runs but when it comes to scoring runs the offense has been… I’m going to go with “putrid”

Oakland A’s
Speaking of putrid - when a team has allowed the second fewest runs in the league and still has a -5 in RS/RA it can mean only one thing - they must have the league’s worst offense. Yep, that’s Oakland.

Cleveland Indians
Nothing is working on this team and it looks like it’s going to be another lost year for the Tribe.

Baltimore Orioles
This team has zero chance to compete in the AL East. Expect them to finish with somewhere around a .100 winning percentage against their division.

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Pissed? I would be too if I was a fan of AL West or AL Central, you should definitely complain about it...