1 Minnesota Twins – Reluctantly, we’ll guess 84 wins and another postseason berth despite the loss of closer Joe Nathan. Went with Minnny because each of the other four teams chasing the Twins is flawed: White Sox don’t have the bats, nor do the Tigers, and the Tribe has no pitching.Too bad Minnesota’s postseason fate is already written: Another first round loss to the Yankees.
2 Chicago White Sox – We’ll go with 81 wins (15 from Jake Peavy), and 90 percent of them will be thanks to the pitching staff. Pathetic bats – Andruw Jones? Really? – will hold this team back. Whatever the Rays are dumping in July, Ozzie should convince his team front office to go after to make a push at the postseason. Gordon Beckham – ready for a monster fantasy year? – is the 2nd most famous Beckham in the world. And here’s your obligatory Juan “Lucky” Pierre reference.
3 Detroit Tigers – Essentially swapped a speedy, power-hitting outfielder (Curtis Granderson) … for a 36-year-old (Johnny Damon). Other than Damon, the offense is just too young. Love that staff, though. Could Verlander and Porcello win 20 each? Sure. Toss in Max Scherzer and you’ve got a 3-headed beast that’s good enough to win the division. We’ll guess 78 victories and go about our business and silently root for Austin Jackson, their new leadoff hitter and former Yankee.
4 Cleveland Indians – What a precipitous fall it has been – choking away a 3-1 ALCS lead in 2007, falling to 81-81, and then bottoming out at 65 wins last year. Can the Indians slug their way back into contention in a division whose winner might win 85 games? If Matt LaPorta’s bat can explode, if Choo can have another outstanding year, if Grady Sizemore can find his 2006 form, if Jhonny Peralta can forget last season, then maybe the Indians can overcome the fact that Jake F’in Westbrook is their opening day starter. The guess here: 76 wins.
5 Kansas City Royals - In a division where the other four teams could finish in any order, the Royals seem to be the only certainty. One winning season since 1993 (that would be 2003, the year of Beltran and Sweeney and … my goodness, how the hell did that pitching staff win 83 games!). Let’s not waste anymore bandwidth on these jokers. A grand total of 70 victories and a gaggle of breathless blog posts from Joe Posnanski about all the nice players who visit Kauffman Stadium.
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