AL has seen unexpected, but thrilling occurrences so far in 2012.
By: Dustin Dietz
As the month of May comes to a close, and we enter the scorching summer months, Major League Baseball has hit the 1/3 portion of the season. One of the things people in the loop enjoy doing is to hand out awards and analyze the season’s first two months. And since I contribute for the Sports Page Weekly, I figured my article this week would be my opportunity to do just that. For fun, I will compare my preseason AL predictions with what has happened so far just for the readers to have the ability to ridicule me.
*Note: I have only included the American League because I refuse to acknowledge a league which requires a pitcher to step in the batter’s box.
- Texas 31-20
- Los Angeles Angels 26-26
- Oakland 22-29
- Seattle 23-30
- Los Angeles Angels
The Angels made the biggest splash in the off season when they signed free agents Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson on the same day back in December. LA then became many expert’s pick to represent the American League in the World Series.
Los Angeles got off to a dreadful start in April as they began the season 7-15, and Albert Pujols did not hit his first home run until his 147th at bat. The Angels would fall as far as 9 games back of Texas in the standings at one point.
Since the team recalled the 20 year old phenom Mike Trout from the minor leagues, the Angels are 19-11 and have closed the gap on Texas to 5.5 games as the two teams begin a three game series this weekend in Orange County.
The Rangers began the season on fire going 15-4 in the first three weeks, but have treaded water since. They have lost series to Seattle (twice), Kansas City, and Toronto. The Rangers should win the division as they are more talented, and deeper than the Angels, especially after signing former pitching ace Roy Oswalt. However, with the Rangers seemingly stuck in neutral, and the clubs set to meet 16 more times, anything can happen.
Making fun of the Angels early in the season was entertaining (#toomanygreatplayers), but I believe it is time to start taking Los Angeles serious again. After allowing 31 runs to a putrid Seattle lineup the last two games, taking two of three in LA this weekend would be huge for the Rangers.
1. Chicago White Sox 29-22
2. Cleveland Indians 27-23
3. Detroit Tigers 23-27
4. Kansas City Royal 21-28
5. Minnesota Twins 18-32
10. Kansas City
56. Chicago White Sox
Yes, I thought the White Sox were so bad that they would finish 56th in the division. This is why the game is played on the field. Detroit added power hitting first baseman Prince Fielder to an already potent lineup, and expected to win the Central with ease. At no point did the Tigers expect to be 5.5 games behind in the standings.
However, teams still have to play defense, and Detroit has not done that well. One of the problems with signing Fielder was moving the hefty Miguel Cabrera across the diamond to 3B. To say Cabrera’s range is limited is an understatement. The statuesque Drew Bledsoe moved better in the pocket than Cabrera does in the field. Fielder and Cabrera have combined to make 13 errors already, and unless something drastically changes, that number will continue to increase exponentially.
Chicago has been one of MLB’s biggest surprises up to this point. With new manager Robin Ventura at the helm, the White Sox are playing an exciting brand of baseball with a mix of youth and experienced veterans.
55 year old (not his real age) Paul Konerko is leading the league in hitting at .381, and Adam Dunn (comeback player of the year so far) appears to have found his stroke again as he has clubbed 16 home runs (tied for third in the league). Young flame thrower Chris Sale leads the American League in ERA at 2.34, and is third in the league with 9.5 K/9.
The Pale Hose have won 8 games in a row, and 12 of their last 13. I do not expect the Sox to continue their current torrid pace, but if they continue to put distance between themselves and Detroit, the Tigers season could be in serious peril.
1. Baltimore 29-22
1.Tampa Bay 29-22
3.New York Yankees 27-23
4. Toronto 27-24
5. Boston 26-24
1. New York Yankees
2. Tampa Bay
Well, looks like my AL East prediction is as affable as my AL Central prediction. I thought the Orioles were so pathetic, they were not even worthy of being in 5th place in the AL East.
The AL East is the best division in baseball as each team is over .500 this late in the season for the first time in the current three division format.
Baltimore was 13 games over .500 a couple of weeks back, but has cooled recently as they just suffered a sweep in Toronto. The Rays continue to be underappreciated by their own fans (13th in the league in attendance), but continue to play excellent baseball despite being without 3B Evan Longoria the last month.
The Yankees have somehow remained slightly under the radar, if that is even possible, as they hope to go on one of those Yankee type second half winning streaks. Derek Jeter has discovered the fountain of youth as he leads the league in hits with 71, and CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova each have six wins.
Rafael Soriano has filled in nicely for the injured Mariano Rivera with a 1.96 ERA, and has 6 six saves as Soriano tries to fill the role vacated by the legendary closer Rivera.
The Red Sox got off to a terrible start under new manager Bobby Valentine, but have bounced back nicely and are trying to climb out of the cellar.
Brett Lawrie of the Toronto Blue Jays is the rising star many fans have not heard of. Currently, Lawrie is second in the league among positions players in WAR (Wins Above Replacement) at 2.9. The Jays young 3B has the range of a short stop and reminds me of a young Scott Rolen at the hot corner. Lawrie has all the tools, and the potential to be a 30/30 player one day. His only negative are his arm tattoos. Please, try to ignore them.
Baltimore is not nearly as talented as the other four teams in the AL East. If they are competing in September, I will be really surprised. Expect the O’s to fall into the cellar soon, with the Yanks and Rays battling for the division at the end of the year.
Preseason awards predictions.
Manager of the Year – John Farrell (Toronto)
Rookie of the Year – Yu Darvish (Texas)
Cy Young – Jered Weaver (Los Angeles Angels)
MVP – Robinson Cano (New York Yankees)
Actual award winners to this point.
Manager of the Year – Robin Ventura (Chicago White Sox)
No one expected the White Sox to play this well. People in the game might have scratched their head at the decision to hire Ventura back in the off season, but they are not anymore. Ventura deserves major credit for the early season success the White Sox ae having.
Rookie of the Year – Yu Darvish (Texas)
At least I got one award right so far. Darvish has struggled with his control at times, but has been impressive for the most part early in the season. Yu leads the AL in wins with 7, and is second in the league in K/9. Darvish has to maintain his control better as only three other pitchers have more walks. But overall, Darvish has easily been the league’s best rookie.
Cy Young – Justin Verlander (Detroit Tigers)
Verlander is this generation’s primo pitcher. He brings no hit stuff to the mound every night. He leads the league in WHIP (0.89), strikeouts (82), innings pitched (81.1), complete games (3), WAR (3.2), and is second in ERA (2.55). Verlander was two outs away from his third career no hitter two weeks ago. The reigning MVP and CY Young award winner has only 5 wins, but that is due to lack of run support. Angels ace Jered Weaver was a contender, but his back injury will take him out of the running. If Verlander maintains this pace, he will win this award easily.
AL MVP – Josh Hamilton (Texas)
Words cannot describe how great Josh Hamilton has been this season? The man has played in a different galaxy. If there was a league above MLB, Hamilton would be in it. Hamilton leads the league in WAR (3.7), Home Runs (21), RBI’s (57), Slugging % (.764), and OPS (1.184). The man is also second in the league in hits and runs scored. Oh, and he also became the 16th man to hit four home runs in a game. What Hamilton has done is nothing short of phenomenal. If Hamilton can stay healthy, he will put up ridiculous numbers and win the MVP unanimously.
Follow Dustin Dietz on Twitter @DustinDietz18