The 2013 MLB regular season will get underway in just a few hours with the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros playing the Sunday Night game on ESPN. Then everything will really get going tomorrow as the rest of the league begins playing.
I can’t believe that MLB would have a team coming off a 107 loss season like the Astros playing in the season opening showcase game, but it must be a reward for them moving into the American League.
I’ll quit rambling and get into my season outlook and predictions for the 2013 season!
A.L. East Division
The division is wide open in my opinion, but a lot of people are proclaiming the Toronto Blue Jays as the favorite. I admit the Blue Jays had a great offseason and loaded up with all kinds of veteran talent, but games aren’t played on paper. Remember how good everyone thought the Miami Marlins were going to be heading into last season after loading up their roster. Just adding high-priced, big name players guarantees you nothing.
The New York Yankees seem to be in total disarray with injuries and free agent defections making them almost unrecognizable as the regular season starts. But I wouldn’t write them off just yet because they have enough pitching to keep them in games until they can start getting healthy.
Are the Baltimore Orioles for real or was last season’s A.L. Wildcard berth a fluke? They have some talent, but far to many questions remain for me to buy into them 100%. The Boston Red Sox are a team in transition and could finish in last place again this season.
The Tampa Bay Rays will be their usual scrappy self again in 2013, but do they have enough pitching after trading away ace James Shields and starter Wade Davis for prospects? They will need to get a full season of health out of third baseman Evan Longoria and new center fielder Desmond Jennings must take the next step in his development to help makeup for the loss of B.J. Upton for this team to contend this year.
Prediction: Blue Jays
A.L. Central Division
This division looks to be the Detroit Tigers and then everybody else. The Tigers stumbled along last season before seizing control in late September, but they have too much talent for that to happen again. They need to find a reliable closer, but I’m confident they will.
The Chicago White Sox were one of the surprise teams last season but were unable to win the division after leading it for most of the season. Had several veterans make meaningful contributions and will need them to do it again this season if they are to stay in the hunt. Pitcher Chris Sale has looked great this spring and could be in line for a huge season.
The Minnesota Twins finished in the cellar for the last two seasons and made some trades in the offseason to inject life into a starting rotation ranked last in the American League in ERA (5.40), strikeouts (541), innings pitched (880) and average against (.287) in 2012. Did they do enough to contend? I don’t think so.
Another team that remade a lousy pitching staff is the Kansas City Royals after a fourth straight season with at least 90 losses. I like the commitment to finally building a respectable staff and think the Royals will be a better team in 2013. But I don’t think they are ready to challenge the Tigers for a division title. Could be a possible A.L. Wildcard contender.
The Royals have some nice building blocks in place and could be a surprise team.
It looks like a long season ahead for the Cleveland Indians and a last place finish wouldn’t surprise me at all. I do like the hiring of manager Terry Francona, but he doesn’t have enough pitching to get this team turned around this season.
A.L. West Division
Can the Oakland A’s repeat as division champions? They were one of the big surprise teams in MLB last year with a young pitching staff leading the way. This will be one of the best divisional races in MLB and will be a lot of fun to watch.
Has the window closed for the Texas Rangers? They still have a lot of talent, but other teams have caught up to them and having slugger Josh Hamilton leave as a free agent will hurt. There’s enough talent to keep this franchise in the mix all season, but not enough pitching to win anything.
The L.A. Angels have the most talented team in the division without a doubt, but also have major questions about their pitching staff. Their lineup will be a nightmare for opposing pitchers to deal with on a nightly basis.
The Seattle Mariners brought in some veteran hitters with pop in the offseason and Mike Morse hit nine home runs during spring training. I think more pitching is needed before the Mariners will be a contender in this tough division. They could be on the fringe of the A.L. Wildcard race if everything goes right.
It’s going to be a very long first season of playing in the A.L. for the Houston Astros and that is putting it mildly.
A.L. Wildcard Teams:
White Sox, A’s