Heading into the 2015 regular season, it seems that most every American League team fancies themselves as a contender. As I’ve talked about earlier, this center-heavy distribution of talent should have interesting implications on the playoff race. This post is not about that. This post is me being a mean person who sees the flaws in everything. This post is about how every team in the American League will finish below .500, mathematical impossibilities be damned*.
*technically not a mathematical impossibility but certainly a statistical impossibility.
Baltimore Orioles: After posting the second-best record in the American League, the Orioles have their share of problems. Losing AL Home Run champ Nelson Cruz will hurt, as will the departure of Nick Markakis. They will be starting Alejandro De Aza and Travis Snider in the outfield. Their pitching rotation lacks impact talent.
Boston Red Sox: They made many additions, but this is a team that lost 91 games last year. They may have added enough to have an elite offense, but even then their pitching rotation is garbage. Just one of their projected started five had an ERA+ over 90 last year, with Clay Bucholz and Justin Masterson being miserable in 2014.
New York Yankees: They’re old and very reliant on a multitude of players not getting hurt. If CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka are healthy, they should have a solid rotation, but if not, things could get ugly. Seeing Alex Rodriguez play again should be fun, though.
Tampa Bay Rays: They won 77 games last year with the contributions of Ben Zobrist and more than half a year of David Price last year. Their rotation is deep with talented young arms, but their offense could be terrible.
Toronto Blue Jays: They scored the fifth-most runs in baseball in 2014, and added an elite bat in Josh Donaldson, but are also starting Michael Saunders, Dalton Pompey, and Justin Smoak. Their pitching rotation is heavily reliant on a repeat performance from breakout star Marcus Stroman, and otherwise is thin and weak.
Chicago White Sox: Nothing. There are no problems with this team. Obviously the best team in the American League that will assuredly blow past the 2001 Mariners’ record 116 wins en route to a World Series (in all seriousness, there has been plenty of talk here in the problems with the White Sox, no more is necessary at present).
Cleveland Indians: They were an 85-win team last year with absolutely amazing performances from Michael Brantley and Corey Kluber, and could be hurt immensely by regression. Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher are both very expensive and very bad. Brandon Moss could be a key to their offense in 2015, but after a miserable second half and then being traded for seemingly pennies on the dollar, could there be something wrong with him that made the A’s willing to get rid of him?
Detroit Tigers: After four consecutive AL Central wins, age could catch up to Detroit in 2015. Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera will both miss spring training and potentially more. Replacing Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello with Alfredo Simon and Shane Greene could prove fatal for their playoff hopes.
Kansas City Royals: After a run to the World Series where seemingly everything went right, the Royals head into 2015 after losing James Shields and Billy Butler. The Kendrys Morales contract seems like a disaster waiting to happen, and Alex Rios is hardly the stud of his earlier years. Their lack of run scoring could really hurt a team now worse at run prevention.
Minnesota Twins: They’re the Twins.
Houston Astros: They have Jose Altuve, a couple solid pitchers, and a bunch of question marks. That I’m giving them more space than the Twins is more a comment on how people have been talking about them than their own quality as a team. I fully expect another year near the basement of the AL, if not returning to their familiar location at the top of the 2016 draft.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The Angels were really good in 2014, but are not without their flaws. They have the best player on the planet in Mike Trout, but a lot of aging or suspect players at other positions. Their rotational depth thins out really quick after Jered Weaver and Garret Richards.
Oakland Athletics: They collapsed in the second half and lost their best two pitchers as well as their best position player. Their newly revamped roster is certainly interesting, but may not have enough to match their early 2014 success.
Seattle Mariners: Their rotation behind King Felix and Hisashi Iwakuma is relatively thin, and their offense is weak beyond Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, and Nelson Cruz. If Cruz cannot repeat his 2014, they may really struggle to score runs.
Texas Rangers: Yes, they were absolutely decimated by injuries, and yes, they have a good chance for a bounce back season after losing 95 games in 2014. Then again, it’s really hard to jump from a 95 loss team to a contender just from injury recoveries and a trade for a back-end starter. I also do not think I have ever heard of the player currently listed as starting left fielder on the team’s webpage.
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