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2012 MLB predictions Part 1 -- American LeaguePosted Tuesday, March 27, 2012, at 10:03 AM
By COREY NOLES
With a week to go before baseballs start to fly all over the country, now is the time to offer up my predictions for 2012. As those of you who read regularly know, the United Cardinal Bloggers do a monthly project. This week's coming predictions are my contribution.
Today, I'm tackling the American League. On Wednesday, read about the National League on Wednesday. Later in the week, I will offer up my take on the postseason and the end of the year awards.
Don't forget, these are only predictions. There are sp many dynamics in play in baseball that are unpredictable that in a couple of weeks I could be proven entirely wrong. On the other hand, after Adam Wainwright's elbow surgery, not a soul would have picked the Cardinals to do what they did. Common sense dictates that when a team loses their ace you don't pick them to win the trophy.
American League East
I fully expect the American League East to take a turnaround this season. Due to the semi-truck load of talent in this division, it is very difficult to pick. While Tampa Bay does have a rotation that continues to shine and improve, the key to their success this season will be run production. Bobby Valentine's move to Boston, in my opinion is a good fit that may very well energize a team that frankly should have not only made the playoffs in 2011, but gone fairly deep. The talent is definitely there. The Yankees are still the Yankees. If they finish higher in the east, I won't be surprised at all. However, while the Yankees addressed some issues this year, I don't feel like they did enough to ensure being able to hold up against Boston and Tampa Bay as they continue to grow.
American League Central
The Tigers obliterated the AL-Central last year and with the addition of powerhouse slugger Prince Fielder, I fully expect more of the same. With an underappreciated rotation after Verlander and protection in the lineup for Miguel Cabrera, they only stand to improve. I would not be surprised one bit to see them go all the way in 2012. While the Royals are a young team, they're growing and putting together a solid team that could put up a fight for one of the two Wild Card spots this year. I really struggled with where to put Cleveland and Minnesota in the division. While Cleveland is improving, I think they're still a year away from real contention. For the Twins, the key will be to stay healthy. All of 2011 was just horrible for that team and with a little luck in the health department should move up a couple notches in the division which is why I have them at third. Over the next couple of years this division could really turn into a hotspot.
American League West
While I think Texas will still be a powerful team in 2012, the importance of the moves made by the Angels this offseason can't be overstated. Acquiring Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson allowed the Angels to address a pair of needs: better run production and increased depth in their rotation. While I still think the team has some building to do offensively, their rotation is one of the best around. If Kendry Morales can stay healthy, the team should take the division. For Pujols to do what Pujols can do, pitchers have to throw strikes to him. If there aren't serious threats around him, I expect him to see a lot of walks. Texas, after losing Wilson, picked up Darvish and hopes to have Neftali Feliz in the rotation as well. If their insane offense stays healthy, they should outslug any team in the AL. I would have given that title to the Tigers, but Comerica Park isn't exactly the home run derby destination like the Rangers Ballpark at Arlington. Both the Mariners and Athletics are still quite a ways from being in contention. It's going to take a lot of improvement to make a good showing against Texas or Anaheim either one.
Regardless of whether these predictions come to fruition at all, I still think American League fans have a wild season to watch for 2012. The addition of the National League's two most powerful sluggers will make it all the more fun.
Don't forget to check back in tomorrow for my 2012 National league predictions.
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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.
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